Case Study: Direct Mail vs. Email

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We love email. It is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with an engaged set of customers and prospects.

We also love direct mail. There’s not an easier and better way to get your brand in your prospects hands and stand out from your competition.

A frequently asked question is:

“When is it better to use one medium over another?”

While every audience, every message, and every customer journey is different, here’s a case study that shows that to answer this question you have to dig deep, understand your customers and understand your business processes.

A recent study by the utility Natur-Enegi A/S out of Denmark compared the cost of billing primarily small and medium sized customers using direct mail and email. The results were surprising.

Cost to get paid:

Direct Mail: $3.25 / customer
Email: $5.75 / customer

Natur-Energi experienced 43% savings using paper invoices over email invoicing. Although actually sending each email is a neglible cost, when looking at the overall cost of doing business, for Natur-Energi, direct mail cost much less.

The Details

A test population of 2,879 new customers was selected and their behavior monitored through a two month billing and payment cycle.


For the non-payers that failed to pay after a second bill and the management of each of these customers cost an average of $11.

*Direct mail in Denmark is more expensive than in the US. Each mail piece cost Kr6, or US$1.06. With US postage much less than this, the savings for using direct mail would have been even more in the United States.

While this is just one example, it shows that the entire customer experience and all business processes need to be accounted for. It also helps show where improvements can be made. For example, setting up automatic bill pay could significantly reduce costs.

You can read more about this case study on the PIworld web site.

Call us at 503.223.49874 or email the author at to discuss how email and direct mail can integrate into your marketing mix.

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