The Pros and Cons of Email vs. Physical Marketing

Should a business be doing more email or physical marketing?  It's a question that irks many small business owners while they contemplate brand name marketing vs. cost.  Is it easier to send out an email marketing blast?  Yes.  Would it be more personalized if a letter was sent with your signature?  Yes?  Will both cost a pretty penny, especially if your list contains 500+ contacts?  Yes.

So, let's look at the pro's vs. cons.

Email Marketing

email marketing

As its name suggests, email marketing is a form of marketing being conducted through email campaigns. Through it, businesses can send ads and request business, among other things.


  • It can be personalized.
  • It is fast and easy.
  • It gets to people in the earliest manner possible.
  • It can be targeted to specific groups. (For example, a bookstore could send a different email to customers who have bought romance novels at the store than the one sent to those who usually bought murder mysteries.)
  • It is easier to track and monitor sales and successes.
  • It is easier to forward to others.


  • It requires people to give an email address.
  • People can easily unsubscribe.
  • It might be filtered as spam and sent straight to the junk folder.

Physical Marketing

Sears toy catalog

Physical marketing, aka direct marketing, consists of fliers, catalogs, pamphlets, and more that are directly given to people instead of being put in a digital form in the hopes that people will see.


  • It cuts out the middle man.
  • It can be cheaper than buying commercial ad space.
  • It allows businesses to talk directly to interested parties.
  • It is easier to build personal connections with current and potential clients through direct marketing means.
  • It allows for more direct feedback from the audience. This makes it easier to see why sales are being made and why they aren’t so that the product or service can be improved accordingly.


  • People tend to throw out anything they consider “junk mail.”
  • People tend to ignore telemarketers when they call.
  • Both of these considerations make it somewhat more difficult to reach the targeted audience.

The Verdict

Both forms of marketing offer benefits and concerns. Because of this, a smart marketing plan will rely on neither exclusively and will instead use a mix of various marketing formats.

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