How suitable is Digital & Direct Mail advertising for today’s savvy marketers?


Digital Marketing has evolved rapidly over the past years, so much so that oversaturation of social media channels has created an inefficient marketing investment for most businesses. Surprisingly in the UK, only 60% of businesses use paid social media advertising in 2022 (Office for national statistics, 2022). With a recession well on the way on top of an already expensive and competitive space, Marketers are now allocating budget into creative new channels that can provide a higher return on investment with higher CTR and CPA.


It’s important to understand that social media marketing has low engagement rates across the board. Hootsuite has estimated that the average social media post engagement rate is between 1% to 5% with Hootsuite personally measuring their own engagements at 4.5%. On the other hand, direct mail marketing in 2021 had a 9% response rate which is a metric that is more impressive. Online engagement can be considered as ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ which doesn’t always mean an actual purchase will be made, direct mail engagement will almost always lead to a purchase.


Digital marketing can be very expensive. Growing an organic audience is difficult and it would take months or even years to accumulate a large audience without paid adverts. Programmes such as LinkedIn sales navigator and Facebook ads are almost always required to boost efforts. Not to mention google keywords costs can add up very quickly based on clicks and traffic i. With an average 2.35%, conversion rate  Google marketing and social media marketing could prove costly without amazing returns to back up the investments.


E-Mail marketing is a foundation of all businesses to allow for ease of communication at a relatively low cost compared to other digital formats. And although the use of email is consistently on a rise,  digital fatigue has unfortunately also caused this medium to dwindle in response (<1%)


Pain points 

Social media platforms have billions of users on them with facebook having just over 2.9 billion users. Social media as a marketing platform has huge potential with over 84% of people aged 18-29 using some form. At the same time, this young generation is using social media to get more information on brands before making online purchases suggesting social media marketing would have good conversions and engagement rates.


However social media marketing poses challenges. It may be ineffective for many marketers due to changing algorithms that each social media platform uses, the frequency at which these algorithms vary and the favouritism that social media platforms have towards certain content. Platforms such as TikTok rely on post engagement and ‘watch time’ to recommend different content. Posting frequently on such a platform rewards the business for having their ads pop up more often in the algorithm. On the other hand media such as Instagram don’t reward frequent posting anymore. Noticing a business account is posting too frequently will push its content further down the funnel and make it less visible to users.


Getting engagement with social media is another pain point that can often come with social media. Creating content which is more engaging, gripping or being able to tell a story through social media marketing is difficult. This content is difficult to create as attention spans have decreased on social media. Studies suggest that the average user has an 8-second attention span across popular social media platforms. This leaves the marketer with the huge task of designing and taking the monetary risk by creating content which they believe can be gripping enough to share or like whilst keeping it digestible within a few seconds.


Conversion rate standards across social media suggest that having a 3% conversion rate on paid social media ads is a very good turnout for B2C and B2B content. This conversion rate may be disappointing to many marketers especially when direct mail in the UK was close to a 5% conversion rate on exclusively B2C marketing (and Paperplanes average 14%!). Making social media marketing less of an attractive option to certain marketing teams, and possibly less desirable to business selling products with small profit margins that won’t cover the costs of social media marketing.

And lastly, there are issues revolving around the use of 3rd party cookies, data storage and data storage legislation which can interfere with retargeting systems developed in recent years. 

Direct mail


The tangible, physical component of a piece of marketing content has psychological attributes that will forever remain unmatched by digital marketing. Being able to read and digest the content at your own convenience is a huge bonus. No stress salesman on the phone, no 5-second click window ad banner or social media post before the feed/page refreshes. The content stays at home – no rush and the recipient will likely go back and look at it a few times, acting as a constant reminder of your brand.

Thanks to the aforementioned over-utilisation of digital retargeting, customers are paying less attention to the many promotional ‘spam’ emails or ads, and are quite happy to open up and read a real-world letter addressed personally to them. The tactile and personally addressed factors also act on the human senses, strengthening the relationship with customers and having them more engaged with your brand,


The issue with direct mail in the modern era is the lack of data, which causes a poor outlook for the future sustainability of this channel compared to its digital counterparts. Although data privacy here is not problematic, marketing campaigns have to use a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all campaign approach and send large volumes. Each mailing piece is far more expensive than an email, but the conversion and response rates are far greater, sitting at an average of  10%.

Programmatic Direct Mail


Luckily there is a new channel with a bright sustainable outlook which takes the best of both digital and direct mail marketing and cuts out all the mentioned roadblocks.

Programmatic Direct Mail (PDM) uses only first-party cookie data from your website to automatically generate hyper-personalised letters with content and promotions relevant to each individual, sent in the form of a physical letter shortly after your engagement online.

This is exactly what we do at Paperplanes, hitting better targets than mass direct mail campaigns with up to 80% less volume, and attain 30% conversion rates and response rates.
The cost per acquisition is up to 5x lower than social media or email and creates an incredible experience for customers.


Get in touch to learn how a Paperplanes intelligent direct mail campaign may look for your business.