What are the advantages and disadvantages of direct-mail advertising?

Hannah O’Brien

Updated: Dec 06, 2023 · 5 min read

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Marketing trends: what are the advantages and disadvantages of direct mail advertising?

What seemed to be a trend of the past, direct-mail marketing has recently gained popularity again with companies among the effects of the coronavirus. Consumers have also been appreciative of this approach, as customers feel valued by the businesses they buy from. This marketing strategy is becoming an important factor in the “new normal” that the pandemic has created and your own business should consider adapting this to your own advertising plan.

Pros and cons of direct mail marketing

Whether your brand decides if direct-mail advertising is worth implementing into a marketing plan or not, will depend on what your company is looking to get out of it. Is your company a start-up with little to no online presence and trying to gain attraction? Have you just opened up a store in your local community and want to spread the word? Is your target audience more likely to be interested in paper-form advertising? Does your target audience even use the internet or can only be reached through the mail? These are all the questions your company should be considering when developing a direct-mail marketing plan.

What are the advantages of direct-mail advertising?

For small local businesses or companies with a specific target audience, the advantages of direct-mail advertising is mentioned below:

  • Cost-effective: Using direct mail advertising is a very effective way for your company to save money in comparison to digital advertising methods. Also, the return on investment from direct mail advertising is 29% after the first delivery, unlike digital ads that need to send out numerous rounds of email campaigns to gather information and see any ROI rates.
  • Personal: Consumers are able to perceive direct mail as a personalized message to them from a brand they like. Reports have even shown that 59% of mail recipients find excitement in retail mail about new products and campaigns.
  • Target audience: When your company is utilizing direct-mail advertising, you are able to reach a targeted audience that has an existing interest in your company, or in a localized region. It may also be possible for your brand to physically place mail in people’s mailboxes, which can be greatly targeted at a specific community for local businesses.
  • Trustworthy: Unlike email marketing, direct mail allows your business to build trust with its consumers. As some recipients may be confusing discounts sent through email as spam, sending a physical form of a discount will help gain trust and familiarity with your consumers. People, specifically during the pandemic, want a sincere message from businesses, meaning physical mail will help create a bond for consumers in the “new norm” of marketing and customers’ needs.
  • Get noticed: Sending direct mail may be the only feasible way to reach an audience. If your business does not yet have an online website, this form of advertising can help your brand reach customers quickly and overall help your store gain traffic.

What are the disadvantages of direct-mail advertising?

Mentioned below are some disadvantages your business should be aware of while taking on direct-mail marketing:

  • Perceived as spam: It’s easy for direct-mail advertising to come across as “junk mail” to its recipients if not correctly worded. Your company will have to work on the overall brand messaging within its mail content to persuade consumers that the mail is, in fact, valuable to them.
  • Redundant: There is a chance your contacts will find your business mail to be annoying if your brand sends them out too often. You’ll need to be smart with your approach as to which specific consumers you send emails to so not all recipients are receiving every single email your company creates.
  • Digital world: As the world is pushing more and more toward digital use, direct-mail advertising may be perceived as “dated” by some consumers.
  • Non-ecofriendly: As time goes on, sustainability is becoming a larger part of not only people’s lives but also industry standards. Sending out mail to hundreds if not thousands of people is not exactly abiding by an ecofriendly lifestyle, as some of your audience may find it wasteful and damaging to the environment.

Knowing the answer to, “what are the advantages and disadvantages of direct marketing?” will help your company better plan its direct-mail marketing strategy, along with identifying your target audience and understanding your store’s best approach needed for success.

Direct-mail marketing examples

When your own brand takes on direct-mail marketing, the below examples are great ways of showing how your own company can take full advantage of this approach and put as much creativity as possible into making a successful strategy.

1. Green Belgium: Water company Green Belgium had sent out interactive mail to their target audience and companies that were associated with its brand. In an effort to grow its presence, the business sent out mail to celebrate World Water Day, which instructed recipients to hold the mail under water until a message appeared. Green Belgium, from this creative direct-mail marketing strategy, was able to gain attraction as people shared on social media the cool effects of their water-inspired message.

2. Nestlé: As the food company Nestlé was launching its new candy bar, the Kit Kat Chunky, it decided to utilize direct-mail marketing by sending consumers mail “apologizing” for not being able to send the candy directly through the mail because it was too chunky. The mail also offered a coupon giving one free Kit Kat Chunky bar to consumers for their next visit to the grocery store. Nestlé did a great job of bringing brand awareness to its newest campaign as well as encouraging people to try out their new product.

3. LavOnline: Young professionals were targeted by LavOnline to help increase sales and traffic to its online laundry services using direct-mail marketing. The audience was asked to “squash” a fake tomato onto the mail that was in the shape of a white button-up shirt, to show consumers that they would need a laundry service to fix the dilemma. LavOnline’s marketing strategy helped the brand convert 32% of the targeted audience into customers.


As part of post-pandemic marketing trends, direct-mail marketing will help reach desired consumers in a personalized manner. The use of direct-mail strategies allows businesses to not only market themselves and their messages, gain brand awareness, and potentially increase sales, it also shows that these brands truly value their customers.

About Author:

Hannah O’Brien writes for the digital marketing agency Aumcore, which specializes in generating a prime digital experience paired with a top-notch content marketing plan.

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