Email Marketing Competition: What’s Next?

by | Feb 19, 2013

Email Marketing Competition – A decision to decrease the use of first class mail delivery may have a huge impact on the marketing world. The United States Post Office has been in talks for years now on how to turn its very failing business around. With technology increasing by the second and so many consumers switching to e-statements, email, and e-bills, this may be the only choice left for the USPS. Especially since there’s only so many more postage increases America can handle before boycotting snail mail all together.
mailboxThis decrease means the post office will no longer be delivering first class mail on Saturdays. Normal delivery will continue Monday through Friday at this point. Priority mail and packages with expedited shipping will still be delivered on Saturdays. Bulk mail will be discontinued over the weeks as well. It’s hard to predict what this will mean for businesses and their marketing plans. Is it good news? Bad news? Does it even impact businesses at all? What’s next for direct mail marketing? And further, how does this change affect its competitor email marketing?

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the average cost of sending out marketing by email is $0.40 apiece. That same piece of marketing sent by direct mail through the United States Post Office though can cost upwards of $1.53. The price difference is obvious but even more so than the price is the time saved and the immediate delivery to consumers. The DMA also included in their study the typical responses to each form of marketing. Email marketing sees an average of 10-15% return (when permission based emails were used) where direct marketing may only see 1 to 2% return. And with an almost constant increase in postage rates, the benefits of direct mail seem to continually decrease.

Is email marketing definitely the way to go than? Well with substantially lower costs, higher returns and delivery immediately and any day of the week, it would seem like a no brainer. Keep in mind though that an estimated 294 billion emails are sent per day. The amount of these that are filtered into spam folders or stopped by virus blockers is shocking. If you don’t take the proper time and care to ensure your email is of good quality, you could be spending your marketing budget on a message that never gets seen. Legitimate, tangible emails account for about 1.9 billion messages a day.

Comparatively the USPS processes about 165 billion pieces of mail per year. It’s hard to say what percentage of this mail is marketing, promotional or sales related versus letters, cards, gifts, bills, payments, etc. but even just putting the two numbers side by side is enough to show that you simply cannot reach the same amount of people the slow way. Ever heard of the tortoise and the hare though? A study done by Epsilon Targeting says that Americans actually prefer getting marketing by postal mail. It’s unclear exactly why this is, especially when the DMA’s figures seem to dispute this but with marketing physically in their hands, people can take their time, do their research and make a decision on the business they use. With so many emails going to one person each day, it can be too overwhelming. Many get deleted with barely a first glance. A physical piece of mail though, only two or three pieces come along. Consumers can take the time to look it over thoroughly, set it aside, post it on the fridge, etc. They can make the choice later where the mail won’t get lost in an inbox.

This news isn’t really about which form of marketing is better. If your business uses direct mail campaigns you’ve seen the benefits. You pay out more but you hopefully see more in return. Will you suffer because mail isn’t going to be delivered on Saturday? It is highly unlikely in my opinion. Shuffle your strategy to give the mail a little more time to get delivered but don’t expect a drastic decrease in response just because of one day. Direct mail still is and will long be a competitor for email marketing, Saturdays or not.

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.