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Direct Mail Outperforms Digital for Acquisition

Direct mail isn’t as glamorous as digital marketing, it isn’t as innovative as mobile marketing, and it isn’t as recognized as email marketing. But direct mail achieves one important strategy better than any other medium.

Direct mail acquires customers; it simply outperforms digital channels.

Here's a look at response rates based on a 2015 DMA report

  • Direct Mail: 1.0%
  • Mobile: 0.2%
  • Social: 0.1%
  • Paid Search: 0.1%

Undervalued in the Digital Age

Digital has become the primary medium for acquisition, flooding the market with display and social ads. Yet consumers are increasingly learning to filter out banners and carousels. With the cost of digital and social ads steadily rising, many brands are turning back to direct mail as an alternative to pricey digital options.

Cost per acquisition

Many customer marketers have an aversion to print materials. Often we can almost feel the cost of the collateral simply by holding it.
But, digital advertisers are growing exponentially and there’s limited prime real estate and with a flooded digital market, pricing is highly competitive for direct mail.

Often it’s a better rate considering cost per acquisition statistics.

  • Internet Display: $41 - $50
  • Direct Mail: $19
  • Paid Search: $21 - $30
  • Social: $18

Tracking & Analytics

Customer marketers are obsessed with dashboards; trust us we’ve been there too. We have dashboards for every time table, customer type and marketing channel possible. Having a wealth of data at your fingertips is empowering and motivates marketers to find the hidden gem that can drive KPI’s.

We often stigmatize direct mail analytics based on digital dashboards. Somehow because it’s print material, many believe the level of analytics will drop.

But direct mail offers the same level of reporting as its digital counterparts. By tracking unique identity and promotional codes marketers can easily attain all core measurements such as response rate, transaction value, units per transaction, average unit retail, even A/B testing and location-based metrics.


Direct is also a great strategy for omnichannel and ecommerce retailers. Potential customers need to actively make a decision on your collateral since they’re holding it; that’s not the case with digital advertising which is passive.

With direct, consumers need to decide whether to toss it or keep it. By keeping it, consumers are much more likely to review and explore your brand as a fit for their needs.

Think of direct mail acquisition as an email to a new file of prime consumers perfect for your brand. A customer keeping your collateral is essentially an email click-through.
How valuable would that consumer be to your brand on first purchase? How about their lifetime value?

Direct isn’t the front-line of technology, nor is it as glamorous as some digital channels, but it is successful. And while social may seem cooler, a Facebook like simply can’t compete with a tried-and-true purchase.

Trying to grow your customer file? Please contact Morgan Conklin for information on Baesman Insights & Marketing’s unique approach to customer acquisition.

Morgan Conklin
Director, New Business Development
[email protected]

Sources for this Article
DMA 2015 Response Rate Report
IWCO Direct