Direct Mail vs email Preference

Direct Mail vs. Email: What do Consumers Prefer to Receive?

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The fact that we live in a digitally driven world may have you thinking that there’s no longer a place for traditional marketing methods like direct mail, but have you stopped to think about what your customers value the most?

Many brands make the mistake of assuming their customers would prefer to receive emails from them, but recent findings from Royal Mail’s ‘The Private Life of Mail’ report suggests differently.

Below we’ve explored some of their key findings and what it means for direct mail and email marketing strategies.

Royal Mail’s Findings…

According to a survey carried out by Royal Mail in 2013, 63% of people said they are more likely to take a brand’s marketing message seriously if it is delivered via direct mail, compared to 18% who preferred email. This suggests that if brands want to get their messages out there, direct mail’s the way to do it.

The survey also found that only 17% of people felt valued by a brand that sent them marketing emails, compared to 57% of people who said that direct mail marketing makes them feel valued. Seeing as marketing is all about building a strong two-way relationship between a brand and its customers and them feeling valued is an important part of the process, these results prove that direct mail still has a crucial role to play.

When asked which gives them a better impression of a company, Royal Mail’s survey respondents voted in favour of direct mail. 55% of people said direct mail gave them a better impression of a company, compared to just 25% who said email.

A total of 51% preferred receiving both direct mail and email. Direct mail is useful when integrated with email, with the survey showing that 13% more visited the promoted website, 21% made a higher level of purchases, and an impressive 35% more responded to vouchers or coupons.

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Why is Direct Mail so Effective?

Part of Royal Mail’s report looked into why direct mail creates such a powerful emotional response in consumers. After looking into scientific research on the power of touch, they believed this was the crucial link. Direct mail responds directly to the human sense of touch whereas email never can!

People Value Things They Can Touch

After applying this notion to consumers’ responses to direct mail, they found that people (in general) placed more value on what they can touch. So if they received an email containing an offer and a piece of direct mail containing an offer, they would consider the offer sent via direct mail to be of more value to them.

Direct mail and email are both part of the direct marketing family

Direct mail and email are both part of the direct marketing family


It Creates a Stronger Bond

The survey also found that 57% of people feel more valued by brands that send them mail, with their reasons being that it creates a stronger and more genuine relationship between them and the brand.

Direct Mail Sparks an Emotional Response

Unlike email, direct mail seems to have the power to spark an emotional response from recipients. 38% of Royal Mail’s survey respondents said that direct mail influences how they feel about the sender and therefore helps to reinforce the brand values they stand for.

Direct Mail is (in General) More Personalised and Targeted Than Email

Organisations tend to spend longer planning and personalising a direct mail campaign because the costs are much higher (materials, postage cost, printing, etc.) than for email. The direct mail campaigns have to create an ROI, so aspects like direct mail personalisation and data segmentation are very important.

Email marketing, when used correctly, is undoubtedly effective but has developed a bad reputation over the years for “spamming” the end-user with constant emails. It’s true that organisations using email marketing send messages more often than in direct mail campaigns; one main reason is the reduced cost.

Direct mail is often regarded as a more trustworthy and personal type of direct marketing activity, whereas email is regarded as quick, less personalised, and more informal.

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The following four articles are all recommended reading as a follow-up to this topic:


The thing we want you to take away from this is the knowledge that direct mail is still relevant and important. Even in today’s digital world, it still has a crucial role to play and with the power of touch is able to create emotional and physical responses that digital-based marketing materials cannot.

If this article has interested you, let us know by giving Baker Goodchild a call on 0800 612 1972 to discuss your requirements in direct mail and print. Also, read our contact us page for information about contacting us.

Image Credits: Jurgen Appelo and Adobe Stock – Mindscanner

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