Direct Mail

Direct mail trumps email every time

Written by Steven Johnson
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Originally published
February 22 2017,
May 27 2020

We all have favourites. There’d be no fun in a tin of Quality Street otherwise and most British families’ Christmases would descend into carnage with everyone fighting over the same treat! And, while we try and remain “channel agnostic” we’re always drawn to direct mail as our favourite marketing channel. Here’s why:

1. Where’s the pleasure?

People are overwhelmed by emails. And, with 2,501,018 emails being sent EVERY SECOND, that’s no surprise and means there’s no fun and definitely no novelty in receiving one. But there’s something about receiving physical mail that makes people feel good. 56% say receiving mail is a “real pleasure,” and 55% “look forward” to learning what they’ve received in the mail.

2. It’s an open and shut case

Email rates for a house list only have an open rate of 21%, a click through rate of 10%, and a conversion rate of 5.5%. Contrast that with the massive 77% of people sorting through their physical mail as soon as they get it! 

3. Email sucks at customer acquisition 

For a prospect list, the above rates decrease to an open rate of 16.4%, a click through rate of 5.9%, and a conversion rate of 4.3%, proving that email just isn’t an effective channel for customer acquisition.

4. Mail has taken a LEAP

In 2016 direct mail response rates took a leap registering a whopping 5.3% to house lists and 2.9% to prospect lists. Online display was the next most effective (though hardly a close second!) while email trailed at 0.6%  and 0.3% respectively. 

5. And that trend is UPWARDS

These are the highest recorded levels since 2003.

6. Who can you trust?

Phishing, scams and hacking. Modern day issues that every day our headlines reflect, with fake news being the latest thing we have to fear. But people trust print. Direct mail doesn’t face the same privacy issues and people feel still feel secure about opening and receiving mail.

6. Creativity pays dividends

Getting creative with email is restricted. However funky the design, it’s only ever going to be one-dimensional and sensory appeal is limited. Which accounts for the fact that people spend 10x more time with mail - an average of 30 minutes on any given occasion, in fact. 

8. Forget the cost

Cost is always an issue, of course. And it’s probably the most oft-cited objection to direct mail. But work with a knowledgeable provider with access to mailing discounts and schemes, and who can design and re-engineer direct mail pieces to ensure best value, and ROI from direct mail can soar.

8 good reasons why direct mail still steals the show for us. In case you were wondering, along with 21% of the population, our favourite Quality Street is “The Purple One”… we can’t all be wrong”!


You focus on the campaign and let us manage your direct mail marketing.


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