Direct Mail vs Digital Marketing: Finding the Right Balance

In the great marketing debate of direct mail vs. digital, where does your business stand? Both strategies certainly have their advantages (and challenges). Rather than pick sides, many companies opt for an integrated approach. 

More on that later. First, let’s break down the benefits of each strategy:

Direct Mail

Essentially, direct mail relies on printed pieces like postcards, brochures and catalogs to connect with customers in a tactile, personalized way. Research shows consumers who hold a letter or postcard in their hands—however briefly—form stronger connections with a brand and are more inclined to make a purchase.

 Despite advances in the digital realm, direct mail still offers higher response, open and engagement rates. At the end of the day, customers appreciate something they can physically touch and save, or share with family and friends.

 Other advantages:

Highly Targeted

Direct mail is a highly targeted strategy for maximizing marketing efforts and minimizing waste. Say you own a moving company. You can purchase a mailing list targeting residents in specific zip codes who just sold their homes. This ensures your mailed brochure or coupon is only seen by those who actually need it. 


Direct mail makes it easy to incorporate personalized notes and special offers that address a customer’s needs and tug at their heartstrings. This prompts customers to form an emotional connection with your brand. 

Increased Brand Recognition

Did you know direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to mentally process? Since it’s simpler to digest and consume, direct mail is an excellent tool for building brand recognition. 

High Response Rates

Consumers are more inclined to respond to a physical marketing piece than an email or social media ad. Think about it—it’s far easier to delete or ignore an email than to discard a printed piece in your mailbox.

Drive Website Traffic

Printing a QR code or the link customers can use to access your website will drive additional traffic.  Making it as easy as possible for customers to visit will increase response and allow you to capture their information.

Digital Marketing

Through email, social media, mobile apps and other online platforms, digital marketing dazzles customers wherever they are, across multiple devices like laptops, tablets and phones. It’s a great way to reach larger audiences, connect with customers in real time and build brand awareness. And an ROI of 124% is hard to beat.

Other benefits include:

Global & Local Reach

Compared to direct mail, digital marketing is well-suited for larger, more geographically diverse audiences. Even small businesses can easily and affordably build an international following through digital marketing.   

Increased Engagement

Digital marketing offers a wide assortment of channels and tools to engage customers, with new platforms emerging each day. Social media, email marketing, Web sites and mobile apps enable businesses to reach their target audiences instantly—and often.

Faster Results

Unlike a printed piece, digital marketing can be released and revised quickly, at any hour of the day. Customers around the world will see your email immediately, responding as soon as it appears in their in-box. Businesses can also check results and tweak language in real time.

Higher ROI

Digital offers an outstanding ROI compared to direct mail, especially email marketing. With its lower costs and broader reach, digital marketing offers the most bang for your marketing bucks.

Direct Mail vs Digital Marketing Statistics

Response Rate4.9%.12%
Open Rate42.2%21.5%
Engagement Rate95%4.15%

Direct Mail vs Digital Marketing: Which Is Better?

While direct mail and digital deliver decent results on their own, they work best when integrated. Plus, most customers prefer a mix of print and digital advertising. Combining the two is easier than you think. Your next direct mail piece could include a QR code links to your Web site or campaign landing page. Through USPS Informed Delivery® integration, customers can view an image of your direct mail piece along with a full-color clickable ad.

Omnichannel Marketing: How to Combine Direct Mail with Digital Marketing

Certain platforms, such as United GMG’s Omni-Bridge 2.0®, do the heavy lifting for you by taking your initial direct mail piece and automatically spreading it across multiple digital channels.

With Omni-Bridge 2.0®, customers who received your direct mail piece will view a digital (ad) version while scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or other Web sites they frequent. A centralized dashboard measures your campaign’s performance in real time and makes it easy to target your customers repeatedly and strategically, without seeming intrusive or redundant.

Get Started on Your Direct Mail & Digital Marketing Campaign Today

Need help integrating your direct mail and digital marketing efforts? Curious about Omni-Bridge 2.0®? Contact your United GMG sales rep today or call 312-427-3537.

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