Digital Marketing vs. Direct Mail

by wp_adminFebruary 6, 2017

Digital Marketing vs. Direct Mail

By Eric Haugen

Unless you are an online super-behemoth like Amazon or Facebook, emphasis on digital marketing is, and always will be, insufficient for a company looking to drive sales. By far you will find that both are essential for a beautiful marketing mix to blossom into a bigger bottom line with more sales, and gain more from the right clients who are really looking to find a loyal business to work with.

This comparison of digital vs physical is like comparing speed to power:

On one hand, while speed can spread the word quicker, is more versatile, and more responsive.. Power breaks through the walls likely you and many other businesses face: First instinct, response, and trust being made in seconds.

So, you’re a quality business, but many are, but there is no shortage of those who aren’t. Consumers filter the two using a variety of different methods, but one of the most reliable methods consumers use for doing so, is research. Getting them to do that step, is the lack of balance between their digital marketing and direct mail. A lot of companies will simply struggle with seeing returns on their marketing efforts scale properly.

There’s a few reasons for this, and the psychology of sales, influence, and trust are all at play. If you look at the “value” aspect of digital vs. physical, you’ll probably see that digital wins every time. However as covered in a previous blog post, a company culture obsessed with value won’t become a company culture obsessed with satisfaction and success for employees and clients. So today, I will cover, truthfully and in depth the actual marketing process between these two mediums are, and why the “apparent” advantages of digital marketing are also actually limiting factors to your successful campaigns.

The advantages of Digital marketing:

1.) You can send thousands of emails containing the same message for free.

2.) Plenty of services exist to help with e-mailing campaigns

3.) It’s cost efficient, but overlooks quality clientelle.

4.) You may think it’s a more convenient way to draw customers into your website.

Why each of these can very easily be bad:

Clients, Consumers, employees, and email companies themselves understand thousands of emails get sent for free, easily.
– The obvious outcome of 10,000 e-mails being sent by one company for free have lash-backs in place, not only in our minds, but in the technology that allows it itself. The receiving end is aware this isn’t personalized, and they’re aware that it’s so easy to do, that someone claiming to be a business but actually is a scam artist, can, and have been doing it for years. A website can be made by people, who can’t deliver, and an ad can be misleading in nature.

– While the message, the words, the design, everything can be absolutely the same, it will /never/ be the same, and it will /never/ achieve the same effect. It simply cannot be done, when you open up your email, it’s the same faint blue glow from your monitor or phone right by your gmail inbox home around the border. Where your actual advertisement in print would immerse someone in a story, it’s being told second hand with Google, Yahoo, or any other email providers logo and toolbar right where your logo SHOULD be, front and center.

– It’s no longer your story, it’s your story being filtered through Google and given to your client like a robotic assistant delivering a message confined to a corner of your window space.

-People will never feel the weight or heft of YOUR story, your advertising. It will be limited to a 2 dimensional array of pixels on their bluish glowing screen, even though your content is unique, powerful, and deeply engaging, the delivery of that message is a lot like the tone of voice when speaking. It can never be changed if you’re confined to email, and you can never make a sale if your tone is too monotone to even be human.

– The time of day people read emails is absolutely different than the time of day people read print. Most Americans will be reading their physical mail when they get home, making decisions within a window time span afterwards in a relaxed state. You have the chance to present something pleasant when normally they are confronted with bills the first chance they get home to relax.

2.) Plenty of services exist for cheap emailing, and so, everyone is doing it. Leaving the delivery method for your sales campaign to be a very over-saturated market, and the cheapest way to prove you’re focused on being cheap and efficient.

– Your service may be different again, truly a beautiful story, but competing your quality content against the flow of emails sent every day is much like pouring a bottle of fresh water into a swamp and trying to tell a story about the journey of that water bottle. Noble and beautiful, something that works and has purpose, lost in a mire of junk folders.

– Quality content is held more into question and suspicion over email. There is a very significant reason why scam artists use email, and not direct mail. Because it’s cheap, easy, and convenient on both ends. Companies with real people, heart and true value on the line don’t skimp out for just speedy email, powerful content has to back your company up. Otherwise, it’s just as convenient to press a delete button than it is to feel and carry your mail to the trash after opening it.

3.) It’s cost efficient for a good reason.

– People who click are not people who look. For anyone familiar with digital analytics, this is exactly a measured key metric. You can get PPC for great results, don’t misinterpret me, PPC is absolutely a key player in any successful modern campaign these days. But if you’re trying to sell well, a ppc makes no promise that people actually looked at what you had to show. People can’t “accidentally open” someone else’s mail, while people can accidentally click a link they decided wasn’t the one they wanted quickly.

– Unless you’re in the practice of misleading marketing online, people will have a good idea of what to find clicking your link. Well, at least, you only have a few lines to give them that idea. Sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes, if you wanted someone to really look into you, you’d make them interested. Imagine an envelope, it’s thick, why? What does it feel like? Does it shake?

– Your advertisements give you a tiny, reallllly tiny window of showcasing what you really want to display. It’s cut-throat, and we’re seeing a resurgence back to quality over quantity. It’s a different numbers game now.

4.) A website doesn’t say the same thing. As mail, brochures, flyers, or anything else.

– You can spend minimal amounts of money to get a quality looking website for cheap if you hire the right people. You can have a budget to start a company with nothing else to show other than a website costing $400-$4,000 and make something “convincing”.

– A website doesn’t speak for production capacity, it is not a result itself of what you can do and what resources you have available, unless you are skilled in website appraisal, which, big budget websites usually have features and tools built in to them.

To summarize the above, the most effective marketing campaign or mix is to use both Digital Marketing and Physical Marketing Collateral such as direct mail, with as many varied forms and shapes as possible using materials and design that stands out from your opponents.

The job of print is to fill in the exact roles of what digital marketing fails to accomplish in the above list. The rest of this article is about exactly how and why it will always have a throne in any successful and forward-moving marketing mix:

A study conducted by the and published in Print in the Mix explains the fragility of over-emphasizing digital marketing (unless, of course, you happen to be an online super-behemoth like Amazon or Facebook):

“Physical Mail is granted immediate attention, a logo, the memory and feel of the envelope. 10% greater percentage of consumers arrive at a brand’s website if given direct mail as opposed to responding to email. It is viewed as more trustworthy and representative of quality service, with 56% saying they found printed marketing to be the ‘most trustworthy’ of media channels.”
“For direct mail that offers information, over 48% of consumers retain it for future reference, with 17% doing so regularly.”
“additional senses go into handling mail that are not present in reading an email.”
In addition to the study from, also published a similar study on the effects of printed advertising and its effect on memory, which as we know is the end goal of market presence and true growth. Here are their key findings:

“Creative that encourages people to touch a print ad produces even stronger brand impressions. Touching print ads increases people’s belief that the brand is honest and sincere by 41%, quality perceptions by 20% and purchase intent by 24.”
“The touchable format of newspapers and tablets increases reader confidence, satisfaction, reliability and trust in advertised brands.”
Touch is simply a critical element of how we perceive the world. In a world of skepticism and high-velocity decision making, a website without brand loyalty already established in the mind of its user, can be filed into a part of people’s brains that they subconsciously see as being capable of deceit.

Photoshop is now a career skill, scam products have their own high-end looking websites, emails are automated. But printed material reflects true business. It was manufactured, and that requires considerable capacity to produce. While some people may look into it that far, almost everyone is simply being influenced by the fact that their brain is storing the same information being validated as both seen and felt.

Paper with unique or high quality feel to it also affects the memory, it’s associated with the brand as well. Texture that stands out or feels unique and different, or fresh and authentic, tough or rough, they all generate additional selling firepower in the back of a consumers mind. Where paper feels tough or mildly rough, it feels to stand the test of time, an association inevitably leading to indirect correlations between two separate entities; your letterhead proposal, and someone’s opinion of your company. If anyone in a company has vision of it, it affects your company. The quality, weight, the feel. An email always feels the same, blue glow flowing from a computer screen next to the terminal you always access email from.

There is in fact, a reason why regular books, and therefore printed marketing collateral have not died yet. Because they affect our brains and memory differently through something called haptic dissonance. You can read some studies on paper vs. digital material on memory and experience here at, but to summarize, our brains are designed for so much more than pixels on screens, as convenient and cheap as they are, they also come across as such.

When we look at a book, we see its weight, we see the pages, the age, the heft, the design on the cover down to the binding of its pages. We feel the paper of the pages, hear them flip, and use our muscles in unique ways to move them about. It provides a level of sensation incapable of being produced by digital media, which can only cater to sight. Remembering that markets are human and engineering your marketing efforts with sensory information in mind allows you to not only produce stronger sales figures, but create an impression and story that generates brand loyalty like no other, because the senses used to experience how that brand is represented are also senses unlike any other that can be felt in an email or ad.

By innovating and transforming itself, print is a vital component of personalized multi-media marketing campaigns – creating emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-pace, digital world. Your story should -NOT- be able to be summarized in just a website, email campaign, or advertisements. It should be palpable, something people can touch and be a part of.

If you want to know more about some of the print and marketing industries biggest trends, and hear from a company in business for over 28 years, send us an email at [email protected] or call us. As a digital and offset printing company invested personally in our clients’ success, we’ve heard about what does and does not work for marketing campaigns. By no means are we claiming to be a marketing firm, but rather, a reliable provider of successful material for Southern California Marketing Firms.

Print Makes Things Real

My passion for print runs deep for a lot of reasons. Here’s one: print makes things real in terms of trustworthiness. Check out this study published by Print in the Mix that showed some interesting results:

There is a 10 percent increase in consumers visiting a brand’s website in response to printed direct mail, as opposed to email

56 percent found printed marketing to be the ‘most trustworthy’ of media channels

33 percent would have a negative view of a brand not offering printed communications

48 percent retained direct mailing for future reference, with 17 percent saying they regularly do so.

So, don’t let your marketing campaign succumb to the illusion of value, it will ultimately not make the impact you’re hoping for, the market is very saturated. More importantly, stop confining your story to two dimensional digital screens that are made with fraction of the effort. If you want quality clients, give them quality. Digital has become too easy for “quality”, to where an impressive heavy set brochure with pocket folds, that says you have production capacity, and quality control.

A lesson learned is getting what you pay for. Make it what you also stand for! E-mails won’t do the trick for some. Surely hand-fulls of consumers and higher-end clients need more value brought to the table immediately than just an email, which anyone can just scrap together using a YouTube video tutorial. No, send the clients you’re really wanting to keep around something that will make them want to sign up for your newsletter.
Send them a brochure, one that tells a story, and teaches them something they didn’t know about, using something that impressed them. Then, and then they see your website. They’re sold.

Here at Corporate Color Printing, we live for that moment when you secure your high-end clients with the right material. Your story is important, and should deeply impress your clients with something worth showing. The trend for delivery is seeing Direct Mail and higher-end quality printing to fit the market for your consumers who demand quality, short on time, and want to work with the best. Which may be why you are here. Quality material proves them you can solve all of their problems; a website says nothing of quality control or production capacity.

We will work with you and even bring it to their doorstep, for free in Southern California. We have engineered impressive presentation standards, and we deeply seek to make sure you can astonish your clients with a story of your choosing, on flyers, letterhead, brochure, books, and any of the other endless promotional products you see in stands filling the role of trade show material. Thanks for reading!

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