Direct Mail Vs. PPC: Which Is Better?

As we teach entrepreneurs to help local businesses with marketing, this question frequently comes up:

Should I focus on PPC or direct mail?

To answer that question, let’s review what they are before diving into their strengths and weaknesses.

PPC stands for pay-per-click, an advertising format most frequently seen on Google, Bing, and Facebook. It works by allowing you to bid on certain terms and only pay that amount when a consumer clicks on your advertisement. 

Most PPC campaigns are fairly short, easy to analyze and adjust on the fly, and the effectiveness is proportional to your budget. When you perform well on a PPC campaign, you tend to get the right bang for your buck.

Direct mail is an offline option. Mailers are ads and promotions on cardstock that you send to addresses in your local area. Chances are, you have some form of direct mail advertising in your mailbox as we speak. 

Why would businesses still use snail-mail, even in 2021? Because it still works! Direct mail is a fantastic way to gain local clients and generate revenue fast. At Offline Sharks, we confidently stand by direct mail as a machine to boost funds and build amazing relationships.

Also Read: How to Sell Marketing Services to Small Businesses

It’s Not An Either-Or Situation

To be clear: both tools serve their niche, rather than compete with each other directly.

Have you ever heard of “Inclusive-Or”? Even if you haven’t, the odds are you’ve seen it in action in a conversation between two people.

An “inclusive-or” happens when someone asks an either-or question, and both answers are feasible. In that case, the appropriate answer is “Yes.”

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Here are a couple of examples:

“Do you prefer to listen to music when you drive, or podcasts?”



“Do you prefer mountain biking, or surfing?”


Sometimes asking an either-or question artificially limits your options. Don’t make the same mistake in marketing. Rather than thinking in black-and-white terms, employ lateral thinking

To think laterally means you take a creative, outside-the-box approach to solve problems. For the aspiring digital marketer, lateral thinking could look like focusing most of your business offline

So think laterally when it comes to direct mail versus PPC. Both are important tools, worthy of your time to study. When our students ask us to recommend one over the other, the conversation always goes like this:

“Should I focus on PPC or direct mail?”


Also Read: How To Use PPC For Lead Generation

Direct Mail and PPC Strengths and Weaknesses

It’s far better to examine each method and compare their strengths and weaknesses, so you know when to deploy them.

Direct Mail Strengths

  1. Direct mail can reach people who don’t use the internet to find products and services. Though the precise number varies from location to location, we know that 60-70% of people search online when they want to purchase a new product. This means direct mail will help reach the other 30-40% of people… which is still a huge number. Better yet, there’s far less competition for that segment of the population.
  2. You might not hear it anywhere else, but direct mail works like magic for quickly generating revenue and clientele. Tom’s entire business was founded on the premise of “offline” mailers, which earned him $7,000 and 16 clients in his first week, when he knew nothing about marketing.

Direct Mail Weaknesses

  1. Direct mail campaigns operate more slowly than PPC. It may take longer to get the results clients want, due to the nature of snail mail. 

Businesses that agree to buy space on your mailer might not see noticeable results for a few weeks.

  1. It is almost impossible to adjust direct mail campaigns on the fly. You can’t change mailers you’ve already sent. Altering future mailers means you have to redesign and send them back to the print shop.

But, because so little changes during the process, it’s easier to track what actually works. 

PPC Strengths

  1. PPC is much faster than direct mail. In theory, you can design a campaign, launch it, and see results within an hour. 

The main platforms for PPC (Google and Facebook) make it easy for you to get started. It’s in their best interest to have as many campaigns running as possible.

  1. It’s highly adjustable and modular. Facebook and Google give you plenty of options on the front end for terms, audience, length, and budget. They also offer real-time analytics for you to track, so you can see what works and make adjustments on the fly.

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PPC Weaknesses

  1. PPC is incredibly competitive, especially for traditional businesses. Certain terms can break your budget, and there’s no guarantee your ad will be in front of the right eyes at the right time. Someone else’s ad might beat you out.
  2. The pay-per-click format is often seen as a strength, but it comes with some significant downsides. For one, just because someone clicks on the ad initially doesn’t mean they will go on to buy. PPC requires skillful follow-through to be effective. 

For two, paying for every single click can eat your budget fast, especially if you bid on more expensive terms. Sometimes, a less expensive (and therefore less competitive) term will provide better results. But it’s difficult to tell without trial-and-error.


Even though PPC is the newer, high-tech option, we still use direct mail on a regular basis. Both tools have a place in your belt. Don’t get stuck in either-or, inside-the-box thinking.

If you haven’t considered direct mail before, or simply want to break into a new vertical, then check out our core training called Coupon Cash System Unleashed.


Photos by Bianca Ackermann, Austin Distel, Burst & Luke Chesser on Unsplash

Nick Ponte

Nick Ponte

Born and raised on Maui, Nick was employed as an automobile mechanic before founding his own local marketing agency. Nick naturally wrestled with the change from tradesman to marketer (not an easy transition) but, like Tom, he wouldn't give up. Through years of commitment, Nick has grown to be a highly skilled web developer and marketing expert with a specialized skill-sets in a variety of fields. He has developed many high-traffic, high-quality websites that incorporate the best practices for today's digital marketing. Today, Nick eagerly shares his experience and knowledge by helping others in cultivating their business.

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