As the name suggests, direct marketing represents a marketing strategy for communicating directly with your customers. It can be employed by both businesses and non-profit organizations. Being cost-effective and powerful in generating sales, direct marketing strategy is considered to be ideal for small businesses with limited marketing resources.
The direct marketing strategy can be applied by both B2B and B2C. This strategy involves advertising techniques that can easily reach the targeted customer and communicate the intended message.
Direct marketing tools are as follows
- Text messaging
- Telephone calls
- Social media marketing
- Interactive consumer websites
- Online display ads
- Data base marketing
- Catalog distribution
- Promotional leaflets
- Targeted television commercials
- Outdoor advertising.
It was first used in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward. However, it has been given the name of direct marketing and it started to be deeply analyzed in 1967, by Lester Wunderman. Since then, the strategy is being used constantly to promote business and increase market share.
Considered as a very effective and efficient tool, direct marketing allows you to make direct contact with not only existing but also potential customers in order to promote your products and services. However, in order to be able to put the strategy into practice one vital element has to be put into place, and that is the focus on “customer data”. In other words, you need to have a fantastic MIS and the database has to be up to date and accurate.
Targeting your existing customer can be a simple process as long as you have implemented a customer data collection process for easily tracking your customers. However, in direct marketing, database is the most important when we are speaking about potential customers, whom you not only have to track and identify, but you to analyze them and present them products as per their needs.
For facilitating this process and helping you to implement your direct marketing strategies, numerous Customer Relationship Management programs and systems are available at your disposal. Once you have established a customer database which has all the data related to your customers, (such as preferences, geography, last purchases, etc.) the direct marketing strategy requires the creation of actionable segments, pre and post campaign analytics and measurement of results. In fact these three are the most important steps of direct marketing.
Three steps in direct marketing
- Actionable segments are parts of the database on which you can immediately act on. Similarly there would be parts which need more research and finally there would be a database area which is in the blind currently and you need to research on later. Thus, you have a pipeline of action in your hand.
- Pre and post campaign analytics tries to analyse what the customer looked like before initiating the direct marketing campaign. And post analytics then tells us which of the customers convert the best so that we can optimize our direct marketing efforts.
- Measurement of results is most necessary for the constant optimization of the direct marketing campaign. Results can vary based on geography, demography or even the season. Thus, constant measurement of results is needed for Direct marketing.
All these elements are considered irreplaceable components of a direct marketing campaign.
Another basic tactic of the strategy involves creating a personalized message for each type of campaign. Thus, an email mode of communication will have a separate type of personalized communication whereas a social media will send another sort of message which boils down to whatever the company wants to communicate.
The communication will most likely depend on your final goal and on what do you intend to achieve through the respective campaign. Common goals of direct marketing are
- Promoting a new event
- Announcing discounts or offers
- Increasing the number of existing customers
- Attracting a certain percentage of new customers
- Recapturing old customers
- Increasing sales
- Gaining more market share
- Generating new business
- Retaining the brand equity
The direct marketing strategy regularly tests and retests a market to find out the type of customers which are most responsive and converting the most to the brand so that they can have a targeted marketing strategy.
In order to be successful, the right communication method is vital and it should take into consideration the preferences of the group that you are targeting. The strategy should also take into consideration the cultural differences in the scenario that the company is involved in different cultural markets.
Given the current sensitive political situation, a direct marketing campaign shout not be offensive and intrusive also from a religious point of view. Another advantage of the strategy is that is presents a two ways interaction. On one side you share the benefits of your products or services while on the other side you get the chance to answer your customers’ questions, and the best example of such two ways interaction is the telemarketing as well as social media marketing.
As direct marketing presents many advantages, it can also incur a relative problem regarding the fact that unsolicited letters, phone calls, etc., must only be sent to businesses and people who have given the permission to be contacted. Many people nowadays register themselves in the “Do not disturb” registry so as to avoid the direct marketing efforts of the company.
Many sms companies like 160by2.com and other sms based marketing companies went in the drain as soon as “Do not disturb” was introduced in the market. However, in the long-term, there are always tools which can be exploited for direct marketing efforts. The most recent tools being used are Whatsapp and Instagram to attract customers.