Looking to start a new marketing campaign for your business? If so, you’ve probably come across many options, including email marketing, direct mail, social media marketing and more. While it’s great to have options, the huge selection can make it hard to know where to begin. For example, which is better – email marketing vs direct mail vs social media? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Two of the most common and effective types of marketing campaigns include email marketing and direct mail marketing. But what’s the difference between email marketing vs direct mail?

We’ll walk you through each type of campaign so you can get a better sense of which option will work best for you.

Ready? Here’s what you need to know about email marketing vs direct mail.

Email Marketing vs Direct Mail

First thing’s first – are email marketing and direct mail marketing the same? Let’s take a look at how each type of campaign works to better understand the big picture.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing. It involves sending out informational or promotional emails to a list of contacts.

Typically, with an email marketing campaign, a group of people receive a single marketing message. Each email contains personal details, such as the individual’s name or business, to create a more customized message.

Email marketing is a great way to build brand awareness, promote products and services, and even strengthen relationships with current clients and customers.

One To One Mailing printing a direct mail campaign

What is direct mail marketing?

Direct mail marketing is also a form of direct marketing. However, with direct mail marketing, a list of recipients receive print advertising. You heard right – print! A physical piece of mail is delivered to the homes and/or businesses of specific contacts.

Like email marketing, direct mail can also be personalized. Personalized aspects can include custom offerings, the inclusion of the recipient’s name, as well as other personal details or messages.

Direct mail marketing is a great way to grab the attention of both potential and current customers and clients. Similar to email marketing, direct mail can develop brand awareness and recognition, promote brand engagement and strengthen existing relationships.

Similarities Between Direct Mail vs Email

In many ways, email marketing and direct mail are similar. In fact, email marketing is often seen as the digital form of direct mail marketing. Two significant similarities between direct mail and email include:

Ability to track

Like with email marketing, tracking direct mail is also possible.

Option to use valuable technologies

Of course, an email marketing campaign can use many different tech tools. But, did you know, technology can be implemented with direct mail too? QR codes on direct mail are becoming very popular and can help with tracking and engagement.

Although direct mail and email marketing have similarities, some noteworthy differences set them apart.

Creating an email marketing and direct mail campaign online

What is the difference between email marketing and direct mail?

One of the most obvious differences between email marketing and direct mail is the nature of the message. While direct mail is a physical form of communication, email is electronic.

That being said, the timing and effectiveness of each strategy also differ. Understanding these differences between email marketing vs direct mail can help you use each type of campaign to its full potential.


Email can be sent out and received almost instantaneously (after some planning and development, of course). Direct mail, however, takes a little longer, as the materials must be printed and delivered by hand. For this reason, email marketing is a good option if you need to quickly respond to a situation or opportunity.

That being said, Canada direct mail and print companies, like One To One Mailing, can help you create and send out a highly effective direct mail campaign just as quickly as a well-planned email marketing campaign.


When it comes to competition, direct mail has a clear advantage. This is because not nearly as many organizations use direct mail vs email marketing.

Consider this – every day promotional messages fill people’s email inboxes. In many cases, these emails are deleted or go straight to junk mail (unless your email campaign has a really strong message, of course). With direct mail, however, your marketing message doesn’t have nearly as much competition. And, if you provide a piece of mail that offers value, the recipient will be even more likely to keep it. For example, include a delicious recipe on the back of the postcards you send out!


Direct mail is much more enduring than email. What do we mean by this? Well, as we discussed above, recipients can discard email at the touch of a button. Direct mail, however, is much more persistent and long-lasting. In fact, if you provide the recipient with something of value, for example, a branded calendar, they will likely keep your mail for some time. This means that your brand will be present in their home or office, helping to keep you top of mind.

So, given these differences between email and direct mail, which is better for your marketing campaign? Let’s take a look.

What is better email marketing or direct mail?

We’ve presented you with both pros and cons of email marketing and direct mail. So, you’re probably wondering – is email marketing better than direct mail? Or is direct mail the best choice?

To help answer this question, let’s get a better picture of how each form of marketing performs in the real world.

Real estate agent looking at email marketing vs direct mail stats

Direct Mail vs Email Statistics

When it comes to direct mail vs email statistics, direct mail marketing wins in terms of open and response rates.

According to the Data & Marketing Association, up to 90% of direct mail is opened by recipients. In comparison, email open rates fall between just 20% to 30%.

Direct mail shines when it comes to response rates too. Direct mail has an average response rate of 5% to 9% (depending on who is receiving the mail), while email has a response rate of approximately 1%!

That being said, direct mail costs are typically much higher than email. This is because direct mail must be printed and then delivered through a mail carrier service.

Statistics from the Data & Marketing Association show that the cost of acquiring a new customer using direct mail is double that for email. More specifically, the cost of acquisition for direct mail is approximately $44 vs $22 for email.

Overall, the statistics show that there are advantages and disadvantages to both email marketing and direct mail marketing. So, which should you choose – email marketing or direct mail marketing?

Our Verdict – A Combination

When it comes to email marketing vs direct mail marketing, one thing is clear – they’re better together!

Email marketing and direct mail are often considered competitors. Business owners and managers commonly believe that employing both strategies will be redundant. However, the opposite is true. Direct mail and email marketing complement each other very well.

All things considered, using direct mail and email marketing combined is the best way to go for a highly impactful marketing campaign. In fact, research suggests that you can significantly improve the results of your marketing campaign by combining email, direct mail and other forms of digital marketing like social media and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Here’s what you can expect when using an integrated marketing campaign that includes direct mail:

  • 45% increase in response rates when compared to digital-only campaigns
  • 39% increase in attention
  • 5% more emotional intensity elicited (i.e. increased arousal)
  • 10% higher brand recall

Marketing Pro Tip: when you run an integrated campaign that includes email marketing and direct mail, ensure your direct mail is delivered directly after emails are sent out. Why? Media sequencing matters! According to Canada Post, brand recall increases 40% when direct mail follows email!

Direct marketing team at One To One Mailing working on a direct mail campaign

Run Effective Direct Marketing Campaigns with the Help of One To One Mailing

Ready to create an integrated marketing campaign? One To One Mailing can help!

Our direct mail and printing services, along with our complete digital marketing suite, will ensure your campaign gets the results you’re looking for!

From campaign design and targeting to final delivery – we do it all. One To One Mailing will ensure the most important aspects of your marketing campaigns are perfectly optimized for your business and target audience.

As a Canada Post partner, we can also help you reduce one of the most significant costs of direct mail – postage. We’ll help you get the best rates possible so you can maximize your return on investment!

Check out our online direct mail campaign builder or give us a call to get started today! 1-888- 561-1764