Direct Mail: Outdated or Underrated? 


Mia Keay |

When you think about marketing strategies, direct mail probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Your mind probably goes to digital marketing: email campaigns, Google, TikTok, X (Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook. Which is not surprising since we live in a world where our eyes are glued to screens – be it TV, phones, or tablets – all these digital outlets supply our brains with endless streams of advertisements.  

In fact, the average American spends a staggering 7 hours, 4 minutes glued to screens  every single day. Now, you might think, that’s a solid reason to stick to digital ads!  

Digital Marketing Strategy Competition

Effective digital marketing strategies can help financial institutions (FIs) align with modern consumer expectations and present themselves as forward-thinking and relevant. However, when it comes to digital marketing, you are diving into fierce competition from industry titans such as Bank of America, Capital One, and Chase, non-traditional players like Walmart, fintechs and neo-banks like Chime and Ally – everyone is gunning for attention through digital ads.  

According to the Small Business Association, there are 33 million small businesses in the United States. Nearly 60% of small businesses (nearly 20 million) use some form of digital marketing to reach consumers. Without a solid marketing strategy, competing in the digital marketing realm is like trying to stand out in a crowded room where everyone is shouting over each other.  

So, with that information, are we led to believe digital marketing is king? Well, the answer is no. Despite all the digital noise, mail is quietly making a comeback. In fact, in 2022 direct mail outperformed every other form of advertising by a whopping 43% in terms of return on investment (ROI). Surprising, huh? 

Is direct mail making a comeback?

While everyone is busy fighting for attention in the digital realm, postal mail is quietly carving out its own space. It is like a handwritten letter in a sea of emails – it stands out. Direct mail packs a serious personal punch, which is why the response rate according to American Marketing Association, direct mail response rates are often 4 to 6 times higher than either email or paid search results.

Not only does physical mail lead to tangible results, but it also opens the door for the consumer to discover even more of what you have to offer.  Why is good old “snail mail” the unlikely winner when it comes to results? Well, for starters, it is a breath of fresh air in a world suffocated by screens. Believe it or not, millennials – yes, one of the most tech-savvy generations – are actually 64% more likely to read direct mail advertising over a digital ad.  

Why? Because they are tired of the digital overload, the endless scrolling, the constant bombardment of ads popping up on their screens. Why? Because they are tired of the digital overload, the endless scrolling, the constant bombardment of ads popping up on their screens. A Canada Post Neuroscience Research Into the Power of Direct Mail Report found that direct mail is easier to understand, resulting in 21% lighter cognitive workload and higher brand recall. Using mail as a marketing strategy gives our brains a break from constantly consuming digital ads.  

Combining direct mail with digital marketing – that’s where the real marketing magic happens

When everyone is scrambling to outbid each other on Google ads, you can swoop in with a personalized piece of mail that lands right on your consumer’s doorstep. It’s the perfect one-two punch: digital for reach, direct mail for impact. A well-crafted marketing campaign that utilizes digital and direct mail marketing to reach your target audience is almost guaranteed to succeed. This synergy ensures a comprehensive approach, capturing audiences who may prefer physical mail while maintaining a strong digital presence.  

While digital marketing offers real-time analytics, personalization, and broad reach, a letter or postcard provides a tangible, sensory experience that resonates deeply with consumers. Integrating both strategies can leverage the strengths of each, such as using digital footprints to enhance the traceability and personalization of direct mail, thus creating a more impactful marketing campaign. For instance, QR codes can bridge offline and online experiences, driving traffic to digital platforms and providing a seamless consumer journey. 

By balancing these channels, community banks and credit unions can target segmented audiences more effectively, boost response rates, and achieve higher ROI. Utilizing both digital marketing and direct mail not only caters to diverse consumer preferences, but also strengthens brand loyalty and engagement across multiple touchpoints. 

So, is direct mail outdated? Far from it. It might just be the underrated secret weapon your marketing strategy has been missing. 

Interested in running a digital marketing and direct mail campaign to acquire new accounts? Contact us for a complimentary analysis of your market, which could reveal new opportunities to help you stay ahead of the competition.

Watch our on-demand webinar, “Maximizing Market Share and Checking Accounts
to gain useful insights to grow core deposits and strengthen your competitive position.

About ADVANTAGE, powered by JMFA
ADVANTAGE is a leading provider of consultation services for credit unions and community banks. With a 40 year history of excellence, we help our clients navigate the ever-changing financial landscape, providing solutions that give them a competitive advantage. Our services include account acquisition and retention marketing services, overdraft compliance and change management, contract negotiation, and technology strategy evaluation and selection.  From growing market share and improving non-interest income to contract negotiations and technology strategy, our experts offer the best solutions for you and your account holders.

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