What is Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing can take many forms. Generally, direct marketing involves businesses and organisations communicating straight to a customer or prospect. Direct marketing techniques include email marketing, SMS messaging, websites, display advertising, paper based fliers, promotional letters and other direct channels. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Below the Line’ marketing, though the reasons for this are not universally accepted.

Direct marketing focuses on data and measurable return on investment. Besides the direct communication itself, actionable insight, analytics, and measurement of results and return on investment, are critical to a Direct Marketing campaign. Typically Direct marketing campaigns involve:

  1. A database of prospects and/or customers. The data can be selected by contact address, demographic information,spend potential  historical company information, financial history. The enhanced information is used to develop a list of targeted entities with preferable characteristics. Creating such a database is a fundamental part of any Direct Marketing campaign.
  2. Marketing messages are addressed directly to the chosen list of customer and prospects. Direct marketing depends on directly addressing the records in a customer profile. Methods of marketing communication can include email addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and postal addresses.
  3. Direct marketing often attempts to drive a specific “call to action.” For example, an email or direct mail piece may ask the prospect to call a number, send a response or click on a link to a website.
  4. Direct marketing emphasises trackable, measurable response, results and costs from prospects — regardless of which channel is used.

Who uses Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing is used by businesses of all sizes — from start-up businesses to large blue chip companies.

A properly constructed direct advertising campaign can give a positive return on investment by showing how many potential customers responded to a clear call-to-action.

The demonstrable result of Direct Marketing is the reason for its increasing popularity, however due to the likely need for up front investment, this has caused some companies to prefer online marketing such as pay per click and search engine optimisation. This only increases the potential return on investment as there is less competition for the attention of the prospect.

In reality, as online marketing methods become more mainstream the costs are likely to rise to same or higher levels, as less people are delivering direct marketing messages.