How Direct Mail and Email Work Together


I want to share a case study about how direct mail and email work together to increase response.  For many businesses, using multiple channel marketing can really increase business. But knowing how to use them together is the key.

Much of this information was gleaned from an article by Ray Schultz that I read in MediaPost. There is a link to the complete article at the end of this blog.

Direct Mail and Email Go Hand In Hand

“Email and direct mail go hand in hand,” says Rachel Schulties, chief operating officer of Marketsmith, a New Jersey-based agency owned entirely by women. “In a loyalty or retention program, coupling both will almost always yield a high ROI.”

Direct mail coupled with digital media increases conversions by 10% or 25%, Schulties says, based on her firm’s analysis. And it works for all digital channels — from programmatic to social to email.

Developing the right sequence

Direct mail is especially useful in the nurturing stage, which I always call the start of the purchase journey.

Typically, a brand might have two mail drops, and three emails. They would alternate between an email, then a direct-mail drop, then another email and a direct piece, and finally an email.

If the goal is to drive a quick sale, they should be run “tightly together,” Schulties says. “You want to make sure they connect.”  But “the data will drive the strategy,” she adds. “You have to understand the open rates on email and figure out the timing.”

What this means is always going back to your analytics to see what worked best.


Testing is critical not only in helping brands weed out losing tactics, but also in finding new directions.

Case in point:  Marketsmith has a client in the utility business. It had been sending postcards, or self-mailers to their list. This has usually been a highly effective format when used in tandem with email. Then they tested something new — a letter in a traditional envelope.

The letter outperformed everything because it lent credibility, Schulties reported.

It’s all about the Data

Summing up, Schulties stresses that data is the most important thing in all types of marketing.

Remember, you can take your direct mail list and append email addresses to it. Email appending is a simple process. You can append emails on either an individual or household level.  Other marketers may want to chase their direct mail with phone or digital display advertising.  Telephone numbers can also be appended to your list.

For marketers who want to chase their direct mail with digital display advertising, that same list can be used for addressable geo-fencing. According to MarketingLand’s research, responsive digital display advertising can give a marketing campaign a big lift in response. Their study showed:

Two Last Comments about Direct Mail and Email

If the recipient isn’t interested in the mail, do they consider it junk mail? Can it hurt response? “Hardly. The riskier area is in email if people unsubscribe”, Schulties answers.  Going overboard on email “really tarnishes your brand”.

Last, Schulites reminds marketers that direct mail is an intimate experience. “People enjoy direct mail,” she says. “And it makes them happy.”

It makes me happy, too!

If you want to read the complete article – click HERE.