War Of The Boxes: Study Pits Mailboxes Against Inboxes, But Is It Really Either/Or?

People in the 55+ age group prefer direct mail to email -- at least when sent by brands they don’t know or have a relationship with, according to The State of Direct Mail Consumer Insights, a study released Wednesday by Lob in partnership with Comperemedia. 

The study implies that there is great meaning in this. But it is not as dramatic as it seems. 

Take the finding that 62% would choose postal mail from brands they don’t know, versus 27% who prefer email. In essence, that means that over a fourth would rather receive an unsolicited email. 

And 56% would prefer a direct-mail piece from a brand they know but do not yet have a relationship with, versus 34% who would like an email. 

Mind you, these are people in an upper age bracket. Among younger consumers, the nod goes to email in almost every case.   

Then there is this over-the-top headline: “Email is the new junk mail.” That’s quite a statement, given the long, checkered history of junk mail in America. And it’s not at all accurate. 



Of the consumers polled, 50% say the emails they get are too frequent. But it’s a wash: Another 47% say they are getting the right amount of email, and 3% say they would like more. 

Of course, consumers have understandable security concerns about email. They say:

  • I prefer not to receive text messages from brands I do not know — 73%
  • I am concerned about the potential security implications of opening an email from a brand I do not know — 73%
  • I prefer not to receive emails from brands I do not know — 67%
  • I am more likely to engage with a message/communication from brands when it is personal to me — 64%

On the positive side (for direct mail), 85% of consumers read postal mail on the same day they get it, and 62% say a direct mail piece has inspired action.

But should it be either/or? The study advises: “With the majority of consumers opening direct mail immediately, you should invest in triggered omnichannel campaigns based on mail delivery date. Coordinate emails to go out the day after the direct mail arrives or an email to look out for a promotion that’s on the way.”

Meanwhile, here’s what motivates shoppers to act on direct-mail pieces:

  • Offer or promotion caught my eye — 64%
  • Was already interested in brand/product/service — 54%
  • The piece was personalized to me — 20%
  • I found the piece particularly creative — 17%
  • Someone I know recently purchased from this brand and recommended it to me — 17%
  • Other — 2%

Lob and Comperemedia surveyed 2,111 consumers. 




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