Why handwritten direct mail marketing should be added to your email marketing strategy (+ 5 ways to start today)

direct mail marketing, email marketing, marketing strategy, handwritten letters

Macaroni & cheese. Cake & ice cream. Cookies & milk. Peanut butter &well, anything!

Some things are just better together.

Handwritten direct mail marketing and email marketing strategies are two of those things (though I think we can agree they’re not nearly as edible as the rest of that list!)

Adding handwritten letters to your current email marketing efforts increases your response rate, adds a personal touch to your communication, nurtures your leads and boosts your ROI.

But before we jump in to combine these marketing strategies, let’s look at each of them separately.

Email Marketing

Automated email marketing strategies are fantastic tools for B2B and B2C communication. Emails can be personalized, set to go out with certain triggers, and they’re quick and virtually effortless once you have your email marketing plan in place.

Research shows email marketing works:

  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. (Experian 2013)
  • 95% of online consumers use email.(ExactTarget)
  • According to a recent study published by Target Marketing Magazine, the highest scoring form of marketing for B2C and B2B marketers was direct mail. (Truth be told, this may in part be on account of the fact that digital marketing forms are evolving along with the best way to measure ROI, but the power of direct mail cannot be ignored).

But, email has it’s downfalls….

handwritten letters, direct mail marketing, email marketing, marketing strategy

  • 69% of subscribers say that too many emails is the number one reason they unsubscribe from email. (Chadwick Martin Bailey)
  • On average, subscribers receive 416 commercial messages a month. (ExactTarget) With all these emails, your messages can too easily be ignored.
  • 18- to 34-year-olds prefer direct mail (TMR Direct)


Direct Mail Marketing

Handwritten direct mail marketing is an effective way to communicate as well as to nurture your leads. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (Hubspot), and companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (Hubspot).

It’s clear that as a marketer, it is important for you to nurture, nurture, nurture! Where emails can seem impersonal and mass-produced, a handwritten letter offers a personal touch.

An earlier post,6 Clever Ways To Nurture Leads With Your Handwritten Letters” has more on this subject.

The stats support direct mail marketing too:

  • If direct mail is optimized, response rates typically average around 6.5 percent. (TMR Direct)
  • Findings from 2013 show that four-fifths (79 per cent) of consumers act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45 per cent who say they deal with email right away. (CMO Council)
  • Traditional direct mail has an average success or response rate of about 4.4 percent according to the Direct Marketing Association.


For Best Results, Use Email Marketing And Direct Mail Marketing Together:direct mail marketing, email marketing, handwritten letters, marketing strategy

Don’t use just email marketing or just direct mail marketing. Use them both!

Integrating handwritten direct mail and email marketing throughout the sales and marketing funnels gets you the best ROI.

In Making direct mail and email work together, Greg Grdodian, EVP of the list management-data solutions group Infogroup/Edith Roman Associates-ePostDirect, says,

“Response increases across the board when direct mail and e-mail are combined in a multichannel campaign. If executed well, it should more than double! This two-ply marketing will strengthen your brand, especially if your marketing campaigns maintain a consistent look or theme across channels. You’ll gain mindshare, and that will lead to greater ROI.”

Additionally, in an article by Katie Smith, Communications Manager at thomsonlocal, she points out:

“Numerous studies have shown that combining email with other communication channels, such as direct mail, increases response rates.  A multi-channel approach can also help increase customer spend by almost 25%, according to research carried out by Royal Mail.”

The tendency in today’s technology driven world could be to put all your marketing efforts into email, but don’t limit yourself to one form of communication.

Try  incorporating these 5 strategies with your current email marketing strategy to add a personal touch and nurture your leads with handwritten letters.


5 Ways to Use Handwritten Letters With Your Email Marketing Strategy

1. Re-engage Qualified Leads You Haven’t Heard From In A While:

It’s important to re-engage qualified leads to stay top of mind, so that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll come to you. A carefully crafted letter focussing on how the lead can benefit from your product or services is essential. The letter shouldn’t be about YOU, but rather it should focus on the potential customer. Explain how your product or service would benefit them. A well-timed, well-written letter could be the touch needed to re-engage leads that would otherwise have been lost.


  • Send a time sensitive offer as an incentive to order.
  • Send a letter showing you haven’t forgotten about them and you want to offer your services to help them succeed or solve a problem they might have.

Why this works: Going out of your way to send a handwritten letter shows the qualified lead you care and you are going to show them personal attention. If they haven’t purchased or committed quite yet, use a handwritten note to close the deal.

2. Promotion (Product/Event)

Nobody would show up to your party if you didn’t send them an invite, and the same is true of new products or promotional events. Use a handwritten letter to spread the word. If you have a new product you know the customer would love, or if you are throwing an event from which she will benefit, be sure to let her know! The customer will appreciate the fact that you thought of her. This is a great way to nurture leads and show some love to current customers as well.


  • Handwritten invite to a promotional event
  • Note telling customer about a new product or service you are offering.

Why this works: In a 2012 study, “59% of U.S. respondents and 65% of Canadian respondents agreed with the following statement, ‘I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products'” (Epsilon’s 2012 Channel Preference Study). Give the people what they want. Let them know when you have new products or events you’re excited about.

3. Cart Abandonment Stage

Send handwritten letters to valued customers who abandon their carts.Don’t let huge order just sit in a cart! Get them to purchase. An email can be a quick way to followup up, but a handwritten letter offers a different medium. A multi-channel approach touches customers in two ways to remind them about their carts AND to show them some personal attention.


  • Send a reminder card personalized with information about the customer’s cart.
  • Offer a loyalty program to recover a cart abandoner

Why this works: One of the reasons people abandon their carts is because they start searching for a better price. Tommy Walker, Editor-in-Chief of ConversionXL says,

If a low price cart abandoner starts searching for a bargain, but instead finds a quick win and repeat value through your loyalty program, you’re greatly improving your chances for repeat purchases in the futureAccording to Forrester Research, loyalty program members also spend an average of up to 13% more  and increase shopper annual visits up to 20%.

4. Loyalty Offer

It is important to retain your best customers, so it is smart to offer them something for their loyalty. An email might not be enough to show your gratitude, but a handwritten letter can express your appreciation.


  • Send a thank-you card with a discount offer on the next purchase.
  • Offer loyal customers something only they have access to. For example, a 2-day sale only for loyal customers, or a sneak-peak at new products and the opportunity to purchase before the general public.

Why this works: Loyal customers want to feel appreciated. Offering them something special builds the relationship and lets them know you haven’t forgotten about them in the pursuit for new customers.  

“A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card but probably not more than a $200 gift card.”
Ross McCammon

5. Special Occasions

Show personal attention by acknowledging an important occasion. Sending a handwritten note or card is just another effective way to build a relationship with your customers. People work with and buy from people they like and trust, so acknowledge special occasions and let your customers know you care about them.


  • Send a card after a big life event such as a wedding, buying a new home, or the birth of a child.
  • Send a card a few days before Valentine’s Day reminding them not to forget to get something for their significant other. (Include a gift card for a massage or mani/pedi to really go above and beyond.)

Why this works: Special occasions mean a lot to your customers, so they should mean a lot to you too. Acknowledging important moments in a customer’s life not only shows you care, but it also shows you pay attention and really know your customer. 

These 5 ideas are a great way to start incorporating handwritten letters into your current email marketing strategy. Email is quick and convenient, but handwritten letters are an awesome way to go above and beyond to nurture your leads and your customers.

Use these 5 strategies and start reaping the benefits of incorporating direct mail marketing with your current email marketing strategy.

Nurture your leads and improve B2B and B2C communication by making it more personal with handwritten letters. And, with so many companies relying on email marketing alone, handwritten direct mail can help you stand out among your competitors.


For more info about direct mail and email marketing, check out the following links:

Drip Marketing: 8 Infographics That Will Teach You Everything You Need To Know

7 Steps to Effective Direct Mail

Direct Mail Plus Email Improves ROI


Author: Abby Hoban

Abby Hoban is a marketing expert who helped dozens of businesses succeed with handwritten letters in their sales and marketing campaigns. Abby consulted for MailLift and will always be part of the MailLift family.