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Go Inspire Group study reveals relative performance of direct email versus direct mail

Dec 20, 2018

(Leicester – 20th December 2018) New research data from Go Inspire Group offers marketers objective data on which to plan their channel strategy. The study, entitled “Hobson’s Choice” and run on scientific experimental principles, offers a comparison of campaign incremental revenue gains from direct email, direct mail, and a combination of both media. The results show that the best results are achieved by using both media in combination.

The second decade of the twenty first century has seen a major switch from direct mail to direct email for marketing communications. However, we are now seeing diminishing returns from direct email, and concerns over permission and legitimate interest under the General Data Protection Regulation are restricting the availability of email data.

Media-neutral Go Inspire Group recognised the need for objective data on the relative performance of direct email and direct mail – to help marketers strike an informed balance in their customer and prospect campaigns. As a result, the company established a randomised control trial (RCT) to deliver benchmark data on the issue.

With all input factors (offers, creative, etc.) kept consistent, and with balanced target volumes selected at random, the RCT showed that direct mail outperformed direct email in terms of incremental revenue after campaign costs, but a combination of direct email and direct mail then out-performed either medium in isolation.

“There is a crying need for proper evidence on which to base channel strategies in today’s marketplaces,” noted Andy Wood, Chairman of Go Inspire Insight. “As a media-neutral organisation, we are in a position to run this RCT with complete objectivity. It’s simply too tempting for marketers to default to online and email communications, often neglecting a proper investment in creative treatments.

“Over and over again, we have seen retailers going for online-only communications (email, apps, web, text), only for them to get a terrible shock when the incremental revenue generated halves in front of their very eyes. Of course, the issue in not a matter of either direct mail or direct email – the challenge is how to make the two techniques work in harmonious tandem. Our RCT clearly shows that this is how the most productive campaigns are conducted.

“We were careful to conduct this RCT with a retailer that has broad appeal across the population – young and old, wealthier and more modest means, gender-neutral, all geographies. The resulting statistics from the trial will not be exactly replicated for each different retailer, but their relative positioning of the media being tested is likely to stand – most importantly that the best commercial results come from a judicious pairing of direct email and direct mail.”

A copy of the Go Inspire research paper – ‘Hobson’s Choice’ – can be downloaded at: