Why direct mail usually works better than email

In an era of electronic communications such as email, instant messaging and Skype the good old fashioned sales letter can seem irredeemably redundant.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, it’s precisely the fact that we are all subjected to a torrent of messages every day via our inboxes that the quiet arrival of an envelope has a much more positive impact than virtually any other form of sales communication.

And there is a wealth of research to prove that this is the case.

For example, Orbital Mailing found that "91% of sales letters are opened compared to only 11% of e-mails!" Whilst Central Mail’s findings were that direct mail offered a Return on Investment that was more than double that of alternative marketing methods.

What’s more, a neuroscience study by Millward Brown shows that direct mail has a deeper effect on people’s brains than digital advertising. Using FMRI scanners it was found that when the same message was viewed as both a physical piece of direct mail and an image on a computer screen, the direct mail generated deeper emotional processing. It also proved that the brand stayed in the memory for longer.

This isn’t to argue that there is no case at all to be made for email sales messages. If you’re sending a reminder for example, or a follow-up message, nothing beats the speed and convenience of email. But for making your customers feel valued, catching their attention and projecting a professional image, the well-designed, well-written piece of direct mail would seem to be in class of its own.