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Reaching the right customers is the key to a successful marketing campaign.

In the modern world, there are two obvious ways to directly target people: through their actual mailbox or through their email inbox.

For businesses with a limited budget, it’s important to put the money towards the most efficient strategy. Decisions have to be made about where to focus marketing efforts.

So when it comes to a direct marketing campaign, which is the best way to go—email or traditional mail?

Direct Mail Isn’t Dead

Though young people might call it “snail mail” for being slow and inefficient, traditional mail is still a valid form of communication.

Direct mail marketing has been around for generations. Thanks to the US Postal Service and government census information, we have years’ worth of demographics research information available based on address. As a marketing strategy, it allows a business to target their demographic precisely by location.

Traditional mailing lists are dynamic and can be broken down into target groups like zip code, profession, or even interests of the people at each residence.

Entrepreneur magazine argues that inbox overload keeps people interested in traditional mail. Since email inboxes don’t have a physical limit, people often glance through multiple pages without getting engaged.

Traditional mail has that personal touch. For locally-owned businesses, handwritten postcards or short-term promotions can make a real impact.

As traditional mail is used less, there is also the argument that a physical piece of mail has less competition for attention than a full email inbox.

The Case for Email

Though traditional mail has its appeal, people increasingly spend their time online.

The sheer number of people using the Internet has been steadily rising for decades. This move from traditional media consumption to spending time online shows no sign of stopping.

The number of people online has more than tripled from 1 billion in 2005 to 3.58 billion in 2017.

Around the world, the majority of the population has widespread and convenient access to email.

What about seniors? Aren’t they behind the curve? Don’t they still read the newspaper and check the mailbox?

Some might argue that traditional methods are the best way to reach older adults, but the statistics tell another story. A Pew Research Study from 2017 reveals that 4 out of every 10 seniors now own smartphones. A shocking 44% of the US population over 88 years of age says they regularly use the internet.

Even at work, people are staring at their inboxes. Forbes Magazine reports that the average office worker spends 2.5 hours of their day looking at email.

That amount of screen time is impossible to ignore.

Cost Analysis of Email Marketing & Direct Mail

The other important consideration for launching a marketing campaign is cost.

The simple fact is that per piece, email is cheaper. Traditional mail has printing and mailing costs associated with implementation. Email, on the other hand, is entirely digital.

At its most basic, email is free. At a more sophisticated level, automated email marketing is available at a relatively low price point.

The price for maintaining a customer email list typically rises incrementally with size, so at the low end they are quite affordable.

Scalability is also not an issue with digital marketing. There are no printing costs. For a large business, this is a cost effective choice for an attractively-designed piece of marketing material. Once the design is paid for, it can be multiplied without an increase in cost.

The Future of Direct Marketing

Though it can be argued that traditional mailers have their place, the general trend is clear.

Traditional mail remains a smart option as a specific marketing strategy. Local promotions and campaigns that require a quaint, personal touch will fall in the realm of physical mailers.

The general population though, regardless of demographics, spends their time online. People of all ages are accessible through their email inbox.

For the price, especially for a large distribution campaign, email marketing is the clear choice.

Will you consider an email marketing solution for your next campaign?

To find out about how to run an email marketing campaign for your business, contact our digital marketing experts at Yellow Box.