Direct marketing includes all activities that eschew channel-based blanket campaigns in favor of specific and targeted communications between a brand and a consumer. Any time a company directly communicates with a consumer to promote a product or service is a form of direct marketing. For example, when a company sends a catalog, direct mail, email, calls a consumer on the telephone, serves a banner ad on the internet, tries to reach a consumer via television ads or places an ad in a newspaper or magazine, the brand is using direct marketing.
In any direct marketing strategy, three components are always present – who are you trying to reach, why are you trying to reach them and what is the business goal? Marketers must then choose a marketing channel or format that will be used to reach this target audience with a specific call to action (CTA) keeping in mind the business objective or goal. Additionally,marketers must have the ability to measure the results of their marketing campaigns based on these goals.After all, you cannot manage what you cannot measure
While direct marketing has roots in direct mail, telemarketing, and door-to-door sales, many modern marketers prefer to leverage digital channels and database information to target ideal consumer profiles using relevant calls-to-action.
Email has proven to be a very effective direct marketing tactic yielding as much as a 40 to 1 return on marketing investment according to the direct marketing association.
A direct marketing message can also appeal to consumers past activities. For example, if you donated to the Red Cross the year before, the company may call or send a personalized message thanking you for your participation and asking for your continued support.
To create a sustainable direct marketing strategy, brands must put more and more emphasis on data standardization, normalization, and overall data hygiene. The more data at a marketer’s disposal, the higher likelihood their messaging will resonate with their target audience which ultimately increases conversion rates and overall success.
Many direct marketers today invest in data appending services to fill in any missing data gaps they might have on a particular prospect or customer.
For example, a marketer might have a customer’s name, address and phone number on file but not their email address, household income or whether they rent or own a home. Marketers can pay database companies to fill in those missing data attributes and communicate on a more personal level if they know these things about their customers and prospects.
Advanced direct marketers are also appending social media data on their prospects and customers. This data not only allows a marketer to connect with their customers and prospects on social media channels but also to collect other data attributes like brand sentiment and causes there are most interested in.
Advances in digital printing allow marketers to personalize a message on any of the data attribute they collect on a customer or prospect. So instead of a one message fits all approach, marketers can send direct messages to the masses that are personalized on any data attribute. (One to One Marketing)
When combined with other marketing strategies, direct marketing serves as a useful and efficient approach for converting prospects and gaining insights into consumer behaviors. Far from the junk mail of yesterday, direct marketing can showcase a business’ willingness and ability to personalize the entire consumer journey (Customer Lifecycle).