What is Direct Marketing?
Direct marketing is the business of selling products or services directly to consumers through a variety of different media rather than through a retailer. There are several methods of direct marketing: direct mail marketing, telemarketing, email marketing, online marketing and traditional door-to-door marketing, to name a few.
Almost all direct marketing campaigns are offer-driven and most include coupons or discounts off of products or services. These campaigns are sent directly to consumers, expecting a direct response from them. Typically, it takes a consumer seeing your message at least 7 times before making a purchase.
Is it a new thing?
Direct marketing has existed since the 15th century in England and Europe when publishers would print catalogues for distribution to the general public. These catalogues spread to colonial America, which gave rise to books and other literature utilizing the same distribution format. As time went on and technology got better, more and more people began using direct marketing as a means to distribute their message. In 1928, bulk mail postage rates were first established by the Direct Mail Advertising Association. Finally, in 1967, Lester Wunderman coined the phrase “direct marketing” and is considered to be the father of contemporary direct marketing.
How does it work?
Typically, direct marketing involves a direct sales consultant or expert whose job it is to sell products or services to consumers. In some cases, there may be no sales consultant, but a business owner instead, directly selling to consumers. Ultimately, anyone can be a direct marketer if you’ve got something to sell and someone to sell it to.
Because of its nature, direct marketing effectiveness is easy to measure due to its tendency to elicit a direct response. It is extremely attractive to marketers for this reason. For example, if a direct marketer sends out 1000 solicitations and 100 people respond to the solicitation, that’s a 10% conversion.
However, rarely is it that easy to achieve such results by a single solicitation. Cross-channel marketing has been proven to lift a campaign’s results. In fact, when combined with a one or more digital advertising media, direct mail campaigns experienced more than a 118% lift in response rate since 2017.
Is Direct Mail Marketing Effective?
Yes! Direct mail marketing is still amongst the most effective forms of direct marketing available to businesses today. Direct mail marketing is tied with social media marketing at 57% as the most used medium (Source: ANA/DMA Response Rate Report 2018).
Spectrum Marketing believes that successful direct mail marketing campaigns are made up of three major components: a great offer, an accurate list and an attractive creative design, or the 40/40/20 strategy.
How to Setup a Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaign
First, start with a great offer
The first step is creating an attractive offer – how do you know what kind of offer will get the best response? Listen to your customers. Research their buying habits – what’s the most popular amongst your clientele? What kind of offer would they jump at? Having an irresistible offer that your customers can’t help but take advantage of is the first step in any marketing campaign.
Coupons are a great way to entice your customers to take advantage of your campaign – whether printed or digital, a coupon gives your customer a tangible reminder of your offer and has a higher ROI overall.
Next, build a quality list
Whether your marketing efforts include direct mail marketing, email marketing or digital marketing, you want to make sure that you have an accurate list that you can target your intended market.
If you’re using direct mail marketing, you’re going to want to check out this post on EDDM vs. Smart Targeting. Eliminating waste by factoring out people who you know won’t be interested in your products or service is extremely important and makes your campaign more effective.
Finally, combine the offer with the creative
Once you’ve established your offer, and you’ve built an accurate, quality list, it’s time to design the piece that will help drive your offer – to communicate supporting details that will substantiate your business and your offer. The piece itself should bring everything together – your brand, your offer and your products or services – and should communicate your message clearly to your customers.
Other Direct Marketing Methods
Direct marketing is not just limited to direct mail – however, direct mail response rates rose significantly in 2018 when compared to email, paid search, online display and social media advertising. When combined with direct mail, email, online display and social media retargeting can help lift a campaign’s results.
Email marketing has become widely popular as a method of direct marketing largely due to its low cost to design, test and deploy, as well as being able to accurately measure its results.
Paid search and online display marketing help reinforce your campaign’s message by targeting users searching for a particular product or service. Through Google’s Display Network, your ad can be seen on a number of sites across the internet based on that user’s search.
Social media marketing, like online display marketing, helps reinforce your campaign’s message or could serve as a stand-alone advertisement to users of various platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The advantage to these platforms is that users are more likely to interact with an ad on those sites than anywhere else on the internet.
Telemarketing used to be a more common form of direct marketing, however, with industry results varying widely, it’s becoming less reliable as a marketing method. In fact, a mere 1% of cold calls actually converts according to a study by Keller Research Center at Baylor University. However, some marketers swear by telemarketing as a foundational cornerstone of their business. To stay relevant, telemarketers have had to adapt to changing consumer behaviors.
Which Direct Marketing Method Should You Use?
In short, all of them, together. Direct marketing is constantly changing – as technology gets better, newer ways to market to consumers emerges. However, even with all of the new digital marketing methods available, traditional methods such as direct mail and telemarketing still have their place in the marketing mix.
As stated before, direct mail campaign results can be lifted by adding in online display retargeting, social media advertising, and email marketing. Digital marketing alone is difficult to reach every demographic successfully. Since it takes 7 touches before a consumer is ready to make a purchase, it’s best to take your campaign on multiple channels and reach them wherever they may be.
By using creating a great offer to entice your customers, an accurate list to reach them, and an attractive piece to bring it all together, your next campaign will be nothing but successful and yield excellent RESULTS!