Junk Mail vs Junk Email: What’s Most Effective?


Go to your mailbox day, and you’ll likely notice a few personal pieces, some junk mail addressed to a couple pieces addressed to resident. Open your email inbox, by contrast, and there is probably a long screen full of emails from mailing lists you’ve signed up for as well as unsolicited email from advertisers. Direct mail and door drop marketing were once the most popular forms of marketing, but now, they’re being overshadowed by their digital cousin, email marketing. Before you decide whether to use direct mail/door drop marketing, email marketing or a combination of the two, let’s examine which is better received by its audience.

Let’s start with some facts on mail. In 2005, the Royal Mail estimated that there were 19.7 billion letters sent. Of those, 6.17bn were ‘direct mail’ – marketing letters from companies, addressed to the individual. By 2012, this had fallen to 13.8bn total letters, of which 4.4bn was direct mail. Forecasts for the future see mail dropping even further. By 2023, there’s a forecasted 8.3bn total letters, of which 3.1bn will be direct mail.

What does this mean to an individual? In 2013, the City of London estimated that the average UK household received approximately 650 pieces of direct mail each year.

In addition to this, door drop marketing – unaddressed promotional material sent by individual distribution networks, not sent by the Royal Mail, is measured separately.

Despite the number of mail received, postal marketing is far less common than email marketing. We get an average of 2 pieces of direct mail each day, but we receive an average of 121 marketing emails per day.

How much email is floating around each day? There are around 205 billion emails sent per day in 2016, with email marketing accounting for 56.52% (as of March 2016.) That means there are over 115,866,000,000 pieces of email marketing sent per day. The latest population estimates that there are 7.4 billion people on planet earth – meaning there are enough marketing emails to send 16 emails to every single person on the planet…. every single day.

The response rates…

According to the CMO Council, 44% of people do not open direct mail. This means 56%, or the majority of people who receive it, do.

Emails have an average open rate of 22.87%, making direct mail doubly as effective at getting a message in front of an audience.

Not only that, but, 2012 figures show the response rate for direct mail was 3.4% – compared to just 0.12% for email. Simply put: more people read and respond to direct mail than they do to emails.

In terms of responses, door drops inspire the most brand recollection – 88% compared to 60% for direct mail and 36% for internet adverts.

Email versus post – the contrast

It’s no surprise when you take into account the sheer volume of emails versus letters, that a contrast would occur.

There are around 74 trillion emails sent per year. 13.8 billion letters are sent in the UK, making 37,808,219 a day, 12,098,630 of which are direct mail.

Do 12,098,630 ‘direct mail’ letters per day sound like a lot? That number is just 0.01% of the amount of email marketing pieces that are sent each and every day around the globe!

The verdict

So, with the amount of physical mail sent falling each and every year, direct mail and door drops will still remain useful.

Offering a higher open rate, higher response rate and higher recall rates than emails, a good direct mail or door drop campaign can put you in front of an audience and make you stand out.

Don’t contribute to ‘email overload’ – opt for a better marketing campaign with memorable door drop solutions.


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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who shows women entrepreneurs how to use solid marketing strategies to turn their life’s passion into a profitable, service-based business. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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