Direct Mail - Myths & Facts.

When it comes to direct mail there are so many opinions and statistics that fly around we thought it would be helpful to pull the key facts together and help you decipher the facts from the myths.

Making a lasting impression.

MYTH: Direct mail no longer works.

FACT: Direct mail is far from dead and more than delivers in a digital world.

Mail is remembered: 49% more memorable than email. A more memorable message is more likely to lead to action, and mail has a more powerful impact on long-term memory encoding, 49% stronger than email.1

65% give mail their full attention, compared to just 35% for email.2

30% more dwell time when primed by mail, people spent +30% longer looking at related digital advertising.1

37% buy or order as a result of receiving direct mail.3

Direct Mail in the home.

MYTH: Direct mail is thought of as junk.

FACT: Direct mail stays in the home and is trusted.

27% of advertising mail stays in the home for over 4 weeks.4

59% of people prefer being sent mail, compared to 41% for email.2

Advertising mail is on average revisited four times.4

Mail is trusted at a time when trust is more important than ever.

87% of people describe mail as believable, compared to 48% for email.2

70% said mail made them feel valued and gave a better impression of the company that sent it.2

Email is increasingly seen more as the junk mail medium.

Measuring response.

MYTH: DM is not measurable.

FACT: There are many ways you can track your direct mail response rates; a campaign landing page; a campaign specific email address, coupon codes, QR codes or a campaign specific phone number.

By setting up campaign specific response routes and adding one or all of these in your direct mail campaign you can track response rates and conversions from your campaign.

Reaching and engaging an audience.

MYTH: Technology has made our lives digital – email has replaced direct mail as it’s more effective way to reach your audience.

FACT: Research shows that 97% of people don’t click links provided to them in sales emails, whereas 98% of people check their direct mail every day.

This coupled with the fact that 88% of online forms are intentionally completed inaccurately, so the email addresses captured are unlikely to be entirely comprised of people who are looking to buy your product or service. People who are interested in downloading your content, a webinar, ebook or whitepaper, may have no further interest in your brand or company and as such are likely to omit information that isn’t required like a phone number or fill in the form with bogus information.

MYTH: Millennials don’t engage with Direct Mail.

FACT: Despite growing up in the digital age Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) have been found to not only interact with direct mail but respond to DM quicker than any other age group.

Surprisingly the generation who are renowned for being glued to their phones are not only engaging with direct mail but 63% of millennials who respond within three months go on to make a purchase.5

Sustainability – the green story.

MYTH: Paper production is bad for the environment.

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products produced.

Paper is produced from wood, a natural and renewable material.

The Forest certification ensures wood comes from well managed forests, so by using responsible wood in paper production this ensures healthy growing forests.

As trees grow they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere – a mature tree will take up approximately 22kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. As a wood product paper also continues to store carbon throughout its lifetime.

71% of wood and 83% of pulp purchased by the European pulp and paper industry is FSC or PEFC certified.6

FSC is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organisation established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC logo when used on paper and printed products is assurance that it is made with, or contains, wood that comes from FSC certified forests or from post-consumer waste.

For more information visit

PEFC is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1999 which promotes sustainably managed forests through independent third-party certification. The PEFC logo provides an assurance to purchasers of paper products that the woodfibre originates from PEFC certified, sustainably managed forests.

For more information visit

MYTH: Paper is a wasteful product.

FACT: Paper is the most recycled product in the world.

The European paper industry is a leading recycler with it’s paper recycling rate at 72% and with plans to continually improve, recycling rates will increase even further.

At 72% the European paper recycling rate is approaching the theoretical maximum practical recycling rate of 78%.7 The remaining paper products cannot be recycled as they have either become contaminated or have been kept for long periods (books).

MYTH: All Forests are shrinking.

FACT: European forests have been growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day.

Between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by 44,000 square kilometres – that’s an area bigger than Switzerland and amounts to over 1,500 football pitches every day.

FAO data, 2005 – 2015

Today forests and other wooded land in the EU 28 amount to about 180 million hectares, making Europe one of the most forest-rich regions in the world, with more than 42% of its land covered by forests.

EEA, Landscapes in Transition, 2017

MYTH: Paper production is a big contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.

FACT: Most of the energy used in paper production is renewable and carbon intensity is surprisingly low.

Paper products and printing sector is one of the lowest industrial greenhouse gas emitters. Manufacturing industries account for 24% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Non-metallic mineral products 5.6%
  • Basic metals 4.8%
  • Chemicals and chemical products 4.3%
  • Coke and refined petroleum 4.0%
  • Food, beverages and tobacco 1.7%
  • Paper and paper products 0.9%
  • Printing and recorded media 0.1%
  • Other manufacturing 2.3%

Based on Eurostat data, 2016.

The European pulp and paper industry is the biggest single industrial user and producer of renewable energy in the EU: 60% of the industry’s total fuels consumption is biomass-based.

MYTH: Paper production consumes an excessive amount of water.

FACT: Paper production is dependent on water, yet relatively little is consumed.

93% of water used is returned to the environment in good quality, with the remainder either being evaporated, staying within the product, or being bound-up in solid waste.8

Around 40% of total water use in Europe is accounted for by agriculture, followed by 28% for cooling and 18% for manufacturing and mining, while public water supplies account for 14%.

MYTH: Electronic communication is better for the environment than paper-based communication.

FACT: Electronic communication also has environmental impacts.

How many times have you seen the message “Go Paperless, Go Green”? a common message sent out these days by organisations trying to encourage their customers to switch to electronic transactions and communications on the assumption that this is ‘greener’.

The truth is that our ever-increasing digital world has environmental impacts too. The ICT industry accounts for around 2.5-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and by 2040, the ICT carbon footprint is predicted to rise to 14% of the total worldwide footprint exceeding the current relative footprint of the Agriculture sector (9%), and almost half of the current total footprint of the industrial sector (29%) in the United States.9

The impact of the ever increasing number of electronic products is a colossal electronic waste problem that is constantly growing. In 2016 alone, 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste were generated globally, of which 435 thousand tonnes were mobile phones, representing more than the mass of the Empire State Building.10


  1. Royal Mail MarketReach Neuro-Insight, 2018
  2. Royal Mail MarketReach The value of mail in uncertain times. Kantar TNS 2017
  3. IPA touchpoints, 2018
  4. JICMAIL, Kantar TNS, 2017
  5. United States Postal Service
  6. Based on Two Sides analysis of FSC and PEFC published data, 2017.
  7. European Paper Recycling Council, Monitoring Report 2017.
  8. CEPI, Water Profile in 2015.
  9. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018
  10. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018

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