Direct Mail vs. Billboard Advertising

Last updated: April 27, 2020 | By Jessica Leone

The billboard: There’s a lot to like about this visually arresting form of roadside advertising. First off, consumers don’t have to do anything to view this type of ad. In fact, viewing billboard advertising is unavoidable, if you’re in the right place at the right time. This may explain why spending on billboard advertising (traditional and digital) and other forms of out of home advertising (signs, bus ads, wallscapes, etc.) is expected to reach $33 billion by 2021.

As you search for new methods to reach your target customers when ad blockers and ad blindness are the norm, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the costs. Before you decide on any form of advertising, ask yourself whom your business wants to connect with. Then, think about where you’re most likely to make that connection. It’s all about increasing interest in your business. Interest that turns into sales.

Comparing billboard advertising to direct mail – another popular form of local advertising – can help you develop a better idea of where your ad dollars should be headed: along the roadside and on the sides of buildings or in the mailboxes of hyper-targeted households.

Brand Awareness or Consumer Response?

The beauty of billboard advertising: It’s a proven way to grab attention. But as great as billboards are at helping companies establish and build their brands, they lag behind other marketing channels in moving consumers from paying attention to paying a visit to your store.

Only 20% of commuters who drive 20-60 minutes each way to work indicated they responded to a billboard or out-of-home (OOH) ad in the past 30 days. But 33% of these commuters responded to a coupon in their mailboxes during that same time.1

You could argue the audience for billboards is quite distracted. You must rely on the viewer to recall your phone number, address, even your business name, minutes if not hours after seeing your ad. It’s advertising at its most inefficient.

With Valpak direct mail, it’s more likely consumers will see and act on your ad:

  • 93% of households that receive Valpak open the envelope
  • 81% look at every local advertisement inside it
  • 61% use Valpak coupons once a month or more
  • 69% set aside 1-4 Valpak coupons to share or use later2

With billboard advertising, you can’t guarantee the people who view your ad live or work nearby, let alone want to purchase what you’re selling. Wouldn’t you rather know your advertising audience is local and genuinely interested in your products? Direct mail, not a billboard, is the sure bet to target owner-occupied, high-income households with your ad spend.

Direct Mail Targeting and Tracking

Why wait for your prospective customers when you can go to them?

With direct mail advertising, you can reach your ideal customers via prequalified mailing lists. Backed by the might of the right advertising firm, you can go beyond basic demographic features. More than just targeting an income range, you can focus on a group of consumers based on what they spend their income on.

Instead of just targeting an age group, you can connect with consumers based on life stages and shopping habits. Instead of only looking at a group’s geographic location, you can also look at what’s near them and how long it takes them to drive there. The ability to reach only the audience you want to connect with drives down the cost of a marketing campaign when compared to other, more passive forms of advertising.

Combining years of consumer research with the latest advancements in audience targeting, Valpak can help you reach a local audience with 32% more income that spends:

Billboard Advertising Costs

While billboards can reach thousands of motorists each day, other forms of advertising like direct mail can reach large audiences at a much lower price point. For small and midsize businesses with limited or newly allocated marketing budgets, there’s a proven high ROI that comes with mailing a few targeted neighborhoods for cents on the household.

With Valpak direct mail, your advertising cost is around 3 cents per household. To generate a solid return on investment (ROI), we recommend a minimum mailing quantity based on your advertising goal and business category.

Let’s say you own a grocery store. If you advertise on a traditional billboard in a small to midsize city for a month, you’re looking at $1,500-$4,000 in billboard advertising cost.

If 50 people come into your store after viewing your billboard in a given month, your cost per lead (CPL) could be up to $80.

If you mail Valpak’s recommended quantity of 40,000 targeted households in The Blue Envelope® at 3 cents per household, your CPL is $24.

Now, if you own a carpet and flooring store and 5 people visit your showroom after viewing your billboard, your CPL could be up to $800. The average homeowner spends more than $2,900 on new flooring, so that seems reasonable for your industry, until you compare it to a CPL of $540 for Valpak (mailing 90,000 targeted households at 3 cents each).

Direct Mail Increases Marketing ROI

Your Valpak direct mail coupon is a mini-billboard in consumers’ hands, featuring a lean design with best practice offers. (Check out our Coupon Lookbook for a complete guide.) Unlike with billboard ads, you don’t have to fight rush-hour traffic for attention. Your ad will be shipped to the local consumers most likely to spend money with your business.

One of the benefits of hiring Valpak is that we’re a full-service marketing agency. Our team of professionals do all the work for you, from audience targeting to performance tracking. Contact us today and your marketing rep will go over your goals and preferences to meet your marketing needs.

1. 2018 AudienceSCAN®.
2. 2019 Valpak® Readership Study, April 2019.
3. Compared to the average U.S. consumer. Claritas data with current year projections. January 2019.