Direct Mail or Email? Stamp or Swoosh?

Direct Mail or Email? Stamp or Swoosh?

As a member of the direct marketing space and for the last 20 years a recruiter that has serviced Direct Marketing companies — I am consistently asking myself if that keyword is obsolete. I think Kim Davis article below reflects my sentiments. Oh, and I’m hedging my bets and adding Digital Marketing to my keywords ASAP!

Victoria James Bayley, President
Victoria James Executive Search, Inc.
Call: 203-750-8838

Direct Mail or Email? Stamp or Swoosh?

Kim Davis, Editor-in-Chief, DMN
January 25, 2018

Remember that “swoosh” sound emails used to make when you sent them? It has enduring appeal to fans of all things vintage. But wait? When did emails become vintage? Vintage is folding up a piece of paper, putting in an envelope, stamping the envelope, and asking the postal service to deliver it.

The truth is, even in these days of machine learning, predictive analytics, and programmatic, email remains one of the most important channels for B2C and B2B marketers; and direct mail hasn’t gone anywhere either. What’s the state of play with these two standbys, and how do they measure up?

Stamp it

One fact is beyond dispute. The volume of direct mail sent for marketing purposes is relentlessly declining. But the decline is super slow. According to the DMA, direct mail volumes have been declining 1.9% year-on-year since 2015. At that rate, we’ll all be long retired before direct mail falls into disuse. At the same time, the DMA says, spend is up, and there have been some spikes in data spend. That’s important, and we’ll come back to it.

Based on statistics from Compu-Mail – admittedly a direct marketing solutions vendor – there are other signs that the mail piece remains alive. Household response rate is still way higher than email, paid search, or social media, let alone the online display advertising to which we consumers have become all but oblivious. A response rate over 5% is not to be sniffed at.

It follows that the ROI from direct mail is better than those other channels; perhaps more surprising is the response rate among 18-21 year olds of over 12%. Of course, these figures don’t take volume into account. A 0.5% response rate on 5,000 emails is no worse than a 5% response rate on 500 mail pieces. Continue reading…

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Victoria is an accomplished direct and digital marketer with more than 20 years of industry experience. The Founder and President of Victoria James Executive Search, Inc. direct and digital marketing search firm, she has had a successful and accomplished career, holding senior level sales and marketing management positions in companies such as Citicorp Diner’s Club, Donnelley Marketing. Victoria understands the need for premium talent in the Direct and Digital Marketing industries, is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association, NEMOA and other associations, and holds an Executive MBA from Bernard M. Baruch College. Contact Victoria today to learn how her team of recruitment experts can accelerate your efforts and help you quickly accomplish your goals.


  1. Michael 6 years ago

    I have found that Direct Mail still works. We routinely send “Snail Mail” to customers that don’t open their emails (non-openers) and get very strong response rates. Direct Mail as a prospecting tool is diminishing, but its not obsolete.

  2. Marc Davis 6 years ago

    In our digital age, the cost of online communication is near zero. However, the effort for the customer to delete an online communication is likewise near zero. Generally speaking, direct mail has a tactile effect that is familiar to older consumers and novel to younger consumers.

    Different problems have different solutions. There is a role for direct mail today, sometimes as a solo solicitation channel but often as part of an integrated channel strategy. The best solicitation channel or channels are determined by several factors including an understanding who is being targeted and how they are likely to respond.

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