3 Strategies for Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing

Forget Zombies. The world has already been taken over...by digital.

If you’re anything like me then your email inbox dings at you every 5 minutes, you “google” several times a day and you’re lucky that your phone plan has unlimited texting otherwise you’d be paying an arm and a leg for all the messages between you and your “circle.”

You get the point.  We are inundated with technology.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the internet has made it easier to find information and stay in touch.  It has done wonderful things for marketers – we can now instantly share interesting videos, relevant images and write informative blogs.  I could bombard my audience with email marketing messages multiple times a day, every day, at virtually no additional cost.  There are no limits to the potential audience one can reach through digital.

Great, right? Not necessarily.

Put aside the relatively low cost of email marketing for a moment and think about how many emails you delete a day without even opening them.  Mailchimp states that the average email open rate for the financial industry is 21.65%. 

"78.35% of recipients are NOT reading emails from senders in the financial industry."

If digital mail is the only channel used to stay in touch, particularly with prospects, it can cause an individual’s, or a company’s, marketing program to be unsuccessful.

A successful marketing strategy depends on balancing different channels, such as digital mail and postal mail.  In the recent rush to have an increasing digital presence, postal mail has been left in the dust.  This largely overlooked media, though, offers benefits that one cannot get from marketing through email:


Increased open rates

And what we call, the “extra mile” effect.

Our strategies for when to use postal mail vs digital mail:

Strategy #1: Send a paper note to say thank you

Saying thank you is one of the most important things you can do to show your clients that you care and is a key opportunity to “go the extra mile.”

Harpers Bazaar sat down with Heather Wiese-Alexander, founder of Bell’Invito Stationery and etiquette blogger, to discuss modern etiquette guidelines in the age of technology.  Following a meeting or a sale, Heather was a vocal advocate of the paper thank you:

“Sending a quick email is fine, especially if you perceive the need to promptly follow up on something…(however) there is no substitution for the effort it takes to procure good paper, write a note, seal it, address, stamp and mail a sincere note.  You are saying as much with the effort as you are with the words.  Send them properly.”

Strategy #2: Send a paper note to stand out

There is a ton of digital clutter out there.  Email may present endless low cost opportunities if you have targeted and relevant messaging.  However, the 90’s paper jam in our mailboxes is now happening within our inboxes.  And quality print mail is a rare thing to behold.

When you are looking to stand out, send personalized print direct mail.  It’s a tangible component that clients can physically touch and hold in their hands.  Karren Madson of Epsilon wrote that:

While your presence should be balanced across the marketing channels preferred by your audience, direct mail is an ideal opportunity to provide an “out-of-the-box experience” that clients “actually look forward to receiving.”

Strategy #3: Send a paper note for balance

Karren also wrote that digital is “a bit of a Catch 22 – greater applied force can actually negatively impact desired outcome.”  The same can be said about print mail.  There’s a reason our mail campaigns typically range from monthly to quarterly.  It’s because no matter how amazing your direct mail messages are, if your clients received them every day they would no longer be exciting and fun.  They’d be monotonous.  Much like email.

How can you deploy our strategies?

We suggest establishing a marketing schedule:

Our print campaigns typically run once or twice a month. Research has shown that it takes this many contacts to stay top of mind with producers and clients.

Do you have any digital marketing in place? For example, maybe you send a quarterly email newsletter.  Are you seeing good results from this piece?  If so, incorporate it into your schedule.  If not, now’s a good time to create an updated version.

Lastly, decide on your “add-ons;” items that are crucial but aren’t as easy to schedule ahead of time:

            Thank You’s: You could send for new business, after a meeting, or to your top

clients on a monthly or a quarterly basis.

Birthdays.  Not only an opportunity for personalized off-the-schedule contact,

birthdays are a chance to make your message all about the recipient.  People are

often inclined to be more loyal to companies when they feel that they come first.


Holidays.  Holidays are perfect for surprising your audience because they stand

out from your schedule.  Less common holidays such as Memorial Day or St.

Patrick’s Day have an even greater impact since your card will likely be the only one

in the mailbox.

            Event messages.  It’s always ok to deviate from the schedule when you have

something exciting to share.  These messages could share a new product or invite

recipients to a seminar. 

“Let’s remember both the promise we saw in email and why we like direct response as a marketing channel.  Creative, smart and technically a little edgy…each doing its own work very effectively – helping to drive excitement, engagement and convergence.”  Karren Madson, Epsilon