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Since 1967

Using opt-in e-mail can be a great way to generate leads and sales. But so can regular snail mail. Here’s a quick guide to the pros and cons of direct mail and email to help you choose the right way to contact prospects and build your business. E-mail vs. Direct Mail – let’s find out which is better?

Email Inbox

Email Pros

Email can be cheap

Which is why spammers love it. They don’t care whether response rates are low because their costs are negligible. If you want to reach a large number of people and if you have access to a solid, opt-in list, go for it. A test sure won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

However, that there is a part about Email Marketing (done right) which is not cheap at all, it’s actually more expensive than the most expensive form of Direct Mail : Getting leads. If you use existing list of customers’ email for marketing – that’s an excellent way to communicate, develop brand relations and up-sell existing customers. But what about acquiring new customers? If you shop around for “email lists” you’ll find they’re often more than 10 times more expensive than Direct Mail list, and they contain “dead leads” (email addresses that no longer respond, as they are closed (bounce), or the users have applied high-level of spam protection).

Email is fast

In two senses. First, your production time is minimal. As soon as you get an idea to test, you can write a motivating email, and hit the send button. Second, your prospect gets your email instantly so responses can start pouring in within minutes. Speed, from start to finish, means you can be a super-agile marketer.


Email is a fabulous testing medium

As a result of the speed I mentioned above, you can get virtually instant answers to your marketing questions. Is a cross-sell offer going to be a winner? Send a group of prospects an email and you’ll have an answer. Have you written two great headlines but can’t decide which one to go with? Do some email testing and get your answer fast!

Downloadable fulfillment pieces are instantly accessible

For example, if you’re offering prospects a White Paper filled with valuable information, they can click through to your landing page, fill in a little qualifying information, and download your White Paper in under two minutes. The fact that they don’t have to wait long to get their free fulfillment piece boosts response rates.

Email Cons

Email “environment” is poor

Thanks to the spam avalanche, sorting through email messages is a real drag. That means your prospects are looking for messages from colleagues, family, and friends, and everything else is out. And fast.

Email messages have to be short

When prospects are going through their email, they want information quickly. So long copy is out. Complex offers are out. Supporting facts and arguments are out.

Emails limit your creativity

An all-text email is obviously visually quite boring. The message is the whole ball game. Even in an HTML email, you can throw in some color and photography, but the look is never great. Let’s face it. With email, your graphic designer is fighting with one hand tied behind her back.

Great email lists are hard to find

Yeah. List brokers promise you a high-quality “opt-in” list but you’re often playing with fire. The simple fact is that the direct mail list business is a lot more mature and you can find ethical and helpful list brokers if you shop around.

Direct Mail Pros

Direct Mail; Positive Connotation, Credibility

Mailbox with Letters
Direct Mail

Sure, people call direct mail “junk mail”.
But they use the term with a lot less anger than they do when they speak of “spam”.
When you read through your email, you’re sitting at a desk staring at a monitor and you’re busy. When you sort through your postal mail, you’re probably much more relaxed and feel less put upon. This difference in receptivity is, in my judgment, incalculably important.

Further more, research shows people develop trust towards brands who use Direct Mail.

Direct Mail gives enough space to tell the whole story

If you write a compelling letter, readers will stay with you. They will NOT stick with you in an email.

Direct Mail creates emotional response

In your letter or flyer you can inspire, frighten, cajole, convince, make cogent arguments, and motivate. Readers just don’t want that in an email. They want you to tell them the facts and get out. Which, for a writer like me is very limiting, indeed.

Direct Mail lets you include different pieces you can hold in your hand

I’m talking about a colorful flyer, a testimonial sheet filled with raves, objective product reviews, you name it. You never know what’s going to capture a reader’s interest or attention. With an email you get pixels on the screen and nothing more.

Direct Mail Cons

Direct Mail can be expensive

Postage is sky high and heading higher. Printing often costs a ton of money and there are list rental and letter-shop costs to consider. Not to mention creative development.

Direct Mail vs. eMail – Conclusions

The bottom line? Direct Mail can be very cost effective but there’s no question that your front-end costs are going to be higher. That’s the only big “con” I think you have to worry about.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from the pros and cons listed above, email and direct postal mail both have their advantages. Lately, direct mail has been in a bit of a decline, partly because of the economy and partly because email marketing has made inroads. My own feeling is that direct mail will be making a huge comeback as spammers continue to destroy a legitimate marketing channel.

My advice? Keep on testing email but don’t neglect the proven, money-making power of a letter package or self-mailer!

When it comes to Homeowners Marketing Services, we play by the rules and beyond that, we value people’s privacy, whether they are our customers, our targeted marketing audiences (New Homeowners, New Businesses, New Movers) or visitors of our website.

Contact us at your earliest convenience and let us answer all your questions regarding the cost, time and work related to starting with Direct Mail – you’ll discover it’s way easier and cheaper than you thought.

based on an article published in BusinessKnowHow, written by Ivan Levison, an award-winning freelance direct response copywriter who creates direct mail sales letters, emails, and ads. He publishes a free monthly newsletter. Visit his website at