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Direct Mail Preferred Over E-Mail?

May 4th, 2010 by Bob Bly

In his column in Target Marketing (5/2010, p. 42), Denny Hatch said that a large percentage of the population — 18 to 34 year olds and 62-plus — prefer direct mail to e-mail.

If you are in these groups, or outside them, which would you rather receive — e-mail marketing, direct mail, both, or neither?

If neither, what’s the best way for marketers to communicate with you?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 9:41 am and is filed under Direct Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

73 responses about “Direct Mail Preferred Over E-Mail?”

  1. Morgan said:

    Definitely e-mail. Less wasted paper and it’s a lot more convenient for the recipient.

  2. Clint said:

    Both direct mail and email work with me if, and this is a big IF, they are relevant to my work or my interestes. If not, both are a complete waste of time, money and resources.

  3. Joseph McBee said:

    I prefer direct mail. I find marketing via email to be annoying. Besides, I am more likely to read the direct mail if the packaging is attractive and the writing excellent than I am the email, which I usually just automatically delete.

  4. Dustin Hoyman said:

    I agree with Joseph. I rarely read email unless its something of extreme interest, a huge sale (like 80% off) where as a direct mail piece is more likely to grab my eye.

    Plus I tend to judge email by the headline alone (subject line), where as with direct mail, i absorb a little more as I scan the whole piece.

  5. Brett Owens said:

    I almost never read unsolicited email. But email that comes from a trusted 3rd party (such as yours Bob), I will usually read, and then will often make a purchase if it’s a relevant product.

    I still read all my mail but rarely make a purchase – perhaps because it’s usually lame credit card offers. Plus I do most of my buying online, so email is a better medium to catch me in my buying cycle.

  6. Suresh Nair said:

    As Joseph says, both the direct mail and the email better be relevant before I open either.

    On the one hand, an attractive package and the thrill of opening it…on the other, the convenience and ease of both opening & disposing of an email.

    Hmmmm 🙂

  7. Ryan McGrath said:

    I like direct mail, as I can keep it handy and examine it later. Even if an email gets my attention, I rarely keep it to read later.

  8. John Soares said:

    E-mail marketing — if I’ve opted in to the seller’s list.

    Lately I’ve been swayed by the endorsements of a few bloggers I trust. They’ve reached me through their blogs and Twitter.

  9. Ari Herzog said:

    Define direct mail and define email.

    If you refer to UNSOLICITED, neither captivate me and I toss both equally. If you refer to coming from a person or organization I know and respect, I’ll look at either media equally.

    How’s that? 😉

  10. S.P. Gass said:

    I fit into one of the two groups defined above. I agree with those above who only like to get “opt in” correspondence. It doesn’t make a huge difference which media is used (except that I hate phone call marketing). Overall, I’d say I prefer email since I’d rather have a cluttered inbox than a cluttered kitchen table.

  11. Justin said:

    Neither. If you have something for sale and I need it, I’ll find you. Just make sure I can easily find you using search engines or links from other Web sites.

  12. Photographer said:

    I presume you are talking about unsolicited mail. I always open direct mail. I open my mail when I have time to deal with it, so it is not a problem for me. When you send me unsolicited email, I view it as an unnecessary interruption of my work, so I won’t be in any mood for doing business with you.

  13. Phil Dunn said:

    I like both so I can see what’s going on in the direct repsonse world… but as a consumer I do something different..

    I use search to find the products and services I need (this includes Google, Yelp, CNET, TripAdvisor and so forth). Sometimes I used trusted social connections (online and off).

    It’s an active process, rather than a more passive receiving and responding process.

  14. michael lockyear said:

    I ignore all commercial email. If I have to join a marketing list to gain access to a website I use a special address which sends everything to the bin. Unsolicited commercial email gets reported as spam. For companies that I do business with (as a consumer), I use an email address which sends their emails straight to archive.

    As for direct mail, I do not bother to open the envelopes.

    I have noticed an increase in SMS advertising and telephonic cold calling (in my country) which might be a temporary (and irritating) solution to advertisers.

  15. William Reynolds said:

    If the mailer contains a coupon or discount offer for a local store, I prefer it as direct mail because I like the convenience of simply carrying the thing with me to the store rather than having to print it out first. If, on the other hand, it’s primarily an information blast, I like having it delivered to me online because I like to gather all my incoming information in one fell swoop, and that’s easier to do when it’s all hitting my email inbox.

  16. cassius brown said:

    Direct mail is still the best way to make sure your campaign is effective. email works great for maintaining existing relationships but direct mail is best for prospecting. thanks for the article. also found great stuff at

  17. Stephanie said:

    It depends. From marketers I’ve never heard from before, with direct mail, there’s potential to create a very seductive piece, both visually and textually, and thus, create a desire I might not have even had. Email – not so much. A lot of that is the spam factor. Just too much unsolicited mail comes in, none with subject lines so compelling I can’t resist opening the message.

    With marketers I do know, the same applies regarding direct mail. Email, I might be more likely to open if subject line is relevant to me, or intriguing.

    Just in writing this post, I’m thinking that email marketing will be more effective when precisely targeted and personalized.

    (Funny spam verification for this post: “c
    ornmeal This”!)

  18. Stephanie said:

    Photographer said: “When you send me unsolicited email, I view it as an unnecessary interruption of my work, so I won’t be in any mood for doing business with you.”

    Even for offers relevant to your business? i.e., discounted photography supplies?

  19. Sam Reiki said:

    Direct mail is more natural for me compared to email. It’s very hard to notice which emails are spam messages or which are not. Unless of course you already know the in and out of the internet world.

  20. Rob Miller said:

    I am a real estate broker and I prefer email because it is up to date and much easier to keep proof that something was done. Especially with this “Short Sale” market. One always needs to keep record of conversation and sort.

  21. Matthew Graham said:

    Since I was exposed to computers as I grew up, I will choose email over direct mail. Anywhere you go, you are sure that you’ll be able to get other’s message on time. As we all know, there are so many factors that might affect direct mail that can really piss you off.

  22. George Crankovic said:

    In the fundraising world, studies are showing that it is direct mail that is prompting donors to give online, much more so than email. More donors are giving online, but it’s DM that’s taking them there.

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