Direct Mail v. Email: What Drives Responses

We have all received an invitation in the mail; many of us have also received one through email. When it comes to business outreach, corporate events or even your daughter’s wedding, which way of delivery is the most effective? With the invitations used for our recent Connect Daily Seminar, we decided to find out which delivery would garner the highest response rate. Here’s what we found…

Three weeks before the seminar, we sent out an email blast to all the invitees. A few days later, the direct mail print invitations arrived at all of their prospective homes. We then looked at (a) how many responses we received from each media and (b) whether the response was by RSVP card or online portal.

The Facts:

  • Lots of responses the day the email was sent (7/23) but they quickly dropped – as you can see on the chart, 2, 0, 0, 0 RSVPs
  • After the direct mail postcard arrived (7/28) there were consistent responses with only three of those 16 days having zero RSVPs
  • 20 people responded via the email, 19 YES responses and 1 NO
  • 89 responded via the direct mail, 71 YES and 18 NO
  • Of those direct mail responders, 11 responded via the RSVP postcard and 78 via the landing page
  • Almost 90% of people who responded YES attended the seminar and brought their print invitation (for prize drawings)


What was the most effective invitation? A direct mail print piece with a landing page RSVP.

That doesn’t mean the email invite was necessarily bad! People are on their computers or online all the time, so registering via an email doesn’t require any extra work. As you can tell, it was effective with many responses in just the first day!

However, registration drastically dropped off for the four days following the email, suggesting that the people who received it either (a) registered and deleted it, (b) simply deleted it or (c) ignored it.

Then the direct mail piece arrived. There were consistent registrations almost every single day after the invitation was mailed until the day of the seminar. The only times there were no registrations were on the weekends (as it should be!).

Being able to hold, see and touch something like a direct mail piece cannot be compared to a similar message via email. A printed invitation can be hung on a fridge to see, placed on a desk to remind you of the event and not simply deleted.

The landing pages and online response portals allow people to respond to a message in a way that is easy, fast and comfortable. That technology along with a direct mail piece is the most effective way to continue to garner responses from a message over a longer period of time.


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