Is postal mail more effective than e-mail?

Email marketing has matured to such an extent that many marketers have entirely dropped postal mail from their arsenal. But is that the right decision? This was the question posed in a recent issue of DMNews’ popular “Gloves Off” point-counterpoint column.

Arketi principal and creative director Rory Carlton gamely took up the challenge of making the case that postal mail remains relevant in an electronic world. In this issue of Core, we bring you the case for snail mail. The complete DMNews article – including the rebuttal on behalf of email – can be read here.

Is postal mail more effective than email?

YES. Email is the new junk mail. Email is tired. Email is ever-diminishing in impact.

Direct mail, on the other hand, is hot. Direct mail is fun to receive. And direct mail gets attention.

How did this happen? To put it simply, email has jumped the shark. Every inbox is flooded with spam, and everyone has signed up to – or mysteriously found themselves on – way too many lists. Heck, even my shoeshine guy has a newsletter. (I’m serious. This month: “Caring for Cordovan.”)

We’re all overwhelmed, and the same filters that routinely consigned junk mail to the circular file now work even faster in our electronic mailboxes.

As all the low-dollar, high-volume junk mailers move online – where it’s even cheaper and faster for them to blanket us with their coupons and phony offers – the big opportunity for serious marketers to get noticed is to go postal. There’s a lot less filling up the mailbag these days, so it’s easier to stand out.

But you’re going to need a twist. So why not take advantage of what email can never do: let me feel it. For example, the lumpy mailer – it’s hard to resist opening an envelope with some type of physical object inside. Doesn’t have to be expensive: we’ve used a penny, a bead, even a toothpick, provided it’s relevant.

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Another tack is the formal-invitation-looking envelope, with a crisp, clean appearance and prestige paper. Email can never convey that level of must-see-inside anticipation. And nothing beats postal mail for letting customers touch, feel, smell and even taste a sample of your product.

As to the argument that direct mail isn’t green enough, I say this. Marketers are cleaning up their act. Paper is inherently a renewable, recyclable resource. And in the grand scheme of things, junk mail is way down the list of environmental worries.

So, sorry, email. What goes around comes around. You were the new kid on the block, but today you’re just... junk.

We hope this article has given you something to think about as you are crafting BtoB marketing plans. If you are looking for guidance, or assistance in launching your direct mail program, we’re happy to help. Contact Arketi at

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