What is Direct Marketing?

What is Direct Marketing?

Direct Marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods. A study carried out in 2010 by the Direct Marketing Association ( which in July 2019 changed its name to Data, Marketing & Analytics) in the United States, showed that in 2010 alone advertisers invested 153.3 billion dollars in Direct Marketing, which represents 54.2% of all advertising expenses in the United States. These reported sales gains are estimated at $ 1.798 trillion, which constitutes 8.3% of the total United States GDP.


That same year, there were 1.4 million jobs that depended directly on activities related to this type of marketing in the United States, and 8.4 million other indirect jobs were achieved through the sales generated, which translates into a total of 9.8 million jobs in this sector.

What is direct marketing?

Direct marketing consists of establishing direct contact with potential and current customers to promote products or services. Unlike advertising in the mass media; like television or radio.


Direct Marketing allows advertisers to target a specific audience with a personalized message. The audience in a direct marketing campaign must be very specific, to achieve accurate results.


It is called direct marketing because it generally eliminates the middle man such as the large mass advertising media.


What this strategy seeks is to initially attract potential consumers selected through particular attributes, through a call to action: request information, a visit to the store, or the brand’s website.


Lester Wunderman, the founder of Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, and who is considered the father of Direct Marketing, first coined the term in 1967.

How does Direct Marketing work?

Unlike most marketing campaigns, direct strategies are not based on mass media advertising; like television or radio. Instead, they deliver their promotions through individual channels; like the phone or email. Although the number of launches sent can be massive, an attempt is often made to personalize the message, inserting the name or city of the recipient in a prominent place.


Direct marketing campaigns target the people who are most likely to be interested in a company’s offering. However, like most things in the advertising world, the type of direct marketing that will work for your business depends on your budget, your industry, and the consumers you want to target.

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The call to action is a common element in much of direct marketing. The recipient of the message is urged to respond immediately by calling a toll-free number, sending a message or answering a question, or clicking a link in an email promotion. Any response is a positive indicator of a potential buyer. This form of direct marketing is often called Direct Response Marketing.


Direct marketing campaigns target the people who are most likely to be interested in a company’s offering. However, like most things in the advertising world, the type of direct marketing that will work for your business depends on your organization’s budget, industry or niche, and the consumers you are trying to reach.

Channels used for Direct Marketing

Email and SMS are some of the most widely used delivery systems today, although a few years ago the most popular channels were postal or traditional mail, fax, and telephone.


However, with the expansion of technology and the development of digital tools in the last decade, Direct Marketing is increasingly being done through online channels. Most online advertising is delivered to a specific group of customers, has a trackable response, and targeting is easier and more responsive. 


Direct marketing in digital channels

Some of these online channels that Direct Marketing uses are Displays Ads, or Screen Advertising, which are nothing more than interactive ads that appear on the web next to the content of the pages, or in mobile applications. Formats include banners, pop-ups, videos.


Customers can click on the ad to reply directly to the message or to find more detailed information. According to eMarketer research, online advertising, including social media ads, accounted for 45.9% of all ad spend in 2018, in the United States and estimated percentages exceeding 52% in the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and China. Ad spending is expected to grow to 60.5% by 2023 globally


Internet searches are another sector that has been widely and effectively exploited by Direct Marketing in recent years. According to eMarketer, 49% of spending in the United States on Internet ads goes to prominent placement in search engine or search engine listings on the Internet. Every time a potential customer enters a relevant search term, the ads are delivered based on these search criteria already indicated.


This paid placement industry generates more than $ 10 billion for search companies. Marketing agencies also use search engine optimization to drive traffic to their sites.

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Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, also offer increasing opportunities for companies to communicate directly with customers by creating content that they can respond to.


Direct marketing on these platforms is not just about throwing messages into the void. On social media, brands are expected to engage in valuable conversations with their target audience. This means that they will have to answer any questions their clients have and provide additional information when necessary. But this is not complicated if you create very specific ads based on demographics such as location, age, or even customer hobbies.

Segmentation in Direct Marketing

Segmentation occurs when the audience is divided into different narrow, small, and specific groups, based on various particular criteria such as demographics, age, profession, etc., and thus, sending messages only to those with the most potential characteristics. likely to consume what is offered.


For example, you can narrow down families who have recently had a baby, or new homeowners, or age groups of people with products or services they are likely to need. This way it is easier to achieve direct communication.

Why is Direct Marketing effective?

Direct Marketing is effective because it targets a specific audience with personalized content. This type of marketing is generally more profitable because it is precisely aimed at a defined audience. Therefore, the initial cost of starting up Direct Marketing projects will be less than that of traditional campaigns. This is due to the personalized nature of the campaigns.


Direct marketing allows companies to very easily measure the success of their campaigns and potentially report on future campaigns at the same time.


For example, if you connect with 1,000 people through an email marketing campaign, and you get 10 conversations, you will have a conversion rate of 1%. On the other hand, it would be difficult to know for sure how many people see an ad on a billboard or see your commercial on television.

Steps to create an effective Direct Marketing campaign

Although there is no definitive manual to follow to design an effective Marketing campaign, three fundamental steps must always be taken into account initially for the results to be successful:


Know your audience well.

This is to delimit the target to point to. Gather as much information as possible about the client’s key points, wishes, aspirations, concerns. For this, the Empathy Map tool can be of great help to better understand the audience.

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Be creative. Think outside the box”.

Today, consumers have more power and are more complicated than ever. Nobody wants to receive an automated call from a company talking about their latest product, or a boring and incomprehensible email. You have to build an impressive message, in a language that they understand, and that captivates them.


  • How does the customer use the products?
  • What are the customer’s needs and wants for a product/service?
  • What social, cultural, or current life themes can I use?
  • Where are customers using the product or service?
  • How can I inspire clients to visualize the service/product in their daily life?


Brainstorming while thinking about some questions of this type is a good way to stimulate creativity and to know the needs of the client, and their relationship with the brand, which will be necessary for the next step.

Build a Customer Loyalty Plan.

One of the main reasons companies use direct marketing today is that they want a way to build long-lasting relationships with their niche.


Direct marketing requires planning and research to transform potential customers into true fans of the brand. In this sense, for example, it is common to send ads to current customers with a “loyalty discount”, and campaigns to new customers with a “registration discount”. But it is also very possible to achieve customer loyalty by using these tactics:


  • Send personalized messages in response to your follow-up, a purchase, thank you messages, or personalized attention.
  • Submit special content such as teasers, previews, or glimpses of new things to come, among others.
  • Send promo codes or small gifts
  • Send a personalized greeting card for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and other special occasions.


We are sure that the definition of direct marketing as we know it now will continue to evolve as the decades go by, especially because innovative and creative strategies are increasingly being created that explore new possibilities in the era of Digital Marketing in which Marketing Directo has known how to adapt.


Bibliographic references


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