What is Direct Marketing and How You Can Use it

Anna Sopova

Regular marketing has probably lost its appeal.

As corporations spend millions of dollars on promotions, the average consumer is bombarded with standard, straitjacket ads, which is why they’ve grown indifferent to them.

Everybody skips the ad pages in a newspaper, Instagram ads are more likely to be scrolled than tapped and with the rise of streaming services like Netflix, watching ads before a show has become a thing of the past.

The solution? Direct marketing!

Direct marketing refers to propagating tailor-made customized advertisements via direct and active means to consumers most likely to purchase your product or service.

Interested? You should be, let’s take you on a tour of the whole concept.

Finding the key to marketing success based on statistics

What is Direct Marketing?

In direct marketing, marketers do not restrict themselves to one mode of communication; instead, they utilize as many as possible, for example, email, SMS, social media (Facebook, Instagram), personal messaging applications (WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.).

A key element of direct marketing is the “call-to-action” or CTA. Unlike traditional advertising, wherein the consumer plays a passive role, direct marketers provide consumers with the option of immediately acting upon the advertisement.

For example, if an advertisement in the form of an email has a “Subscribe” or “Click here to buy” button, it is an example of direct marketing. Here are some more examples of CTAs.

CTA buttons in different colors

Another key element of direct marketing solutions is measurable response.

The impact of traditional advertising methods cannot be measured. For example, you, the marketer, will not be able to measure how many people buy your latest product based on the TV advertisement you just released.

You could have correspondents take surveys, but that involves spending precious resources and the accuracy of surveys is hit-or-miss at best.

However, with direct marketing, you will be able to measure precisely how many people have resonated with your marketing campaign. If you use electronic methods, say, email or personal messaging, the response can be tracked via, say, cookies.

Even if you use non-electronic means like mail, asking the consumer to post back can measure the response.

Types of Direct Marketing

Following are the various methods by which direct marketing can be practiced:

1. Post

Yes, snail-mail is still kickin’ around and is still very much in fashion, especially for direct marketers! Several organizations prefer to send promotional materials to those they believe are interested in the product.

In fact, as with electronic mailing lists, organizations have mailing lists for snail mail as well, categorized on the basis of consumer type, demographics, products, etc.

2. Email

Perhaps the most common method of direct marketing, emails are widely used for direct marketing purposes. The costs of sending emails are negligible; they have broad reach; they are easy to personalize, and tracking response is easy as it is automated.

3. Telemarketing

Telemarketing is another widespread method of direct marketing. Telemarketing refers to the process of an agent personally calling a potential customer to inform them of products, discounts, etc.

Telemarketing has the benefit of being personal and most likely to be noticed; however, it involves immense cost, and investment and response may not always be able to be traced.

4. Personal Messaging

This method may involve the organization sending personalized messages to potential consumers via SMS or social media. Apifonica, for example has apps for managing the growing needs of an organization, both for text SMS and social media which you can see by clicking here respectively.

With apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc, given how addictive these apps are, it is highly unlikely that your message will be missed.

However, personal messaging is a double-edged sword as nobody wants advertisements in their private sphere, and such marketing might harm the organization’s reputation. Same goes for B2B direct marketing. So, in a way there’s disadvantages of direct marketing as well.

Advantages of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing has several benefits, such as:

1. Targeted Advertising

Passive advertising cannot be targeted towards a specific set of consumers because everybody is going to see the advertisement, without any controlling or regulatory mechanism.

Therefore, most of the viewers will be consumers who won’t end up buying your product, leading to higher costs and decreased sales (when compared to potential sales).

Direct marketing solves this problem by allowing you to advertise only to consumers likely to convert into actual consumers.

2. Personalized Messages

Personalized messaging complements targeted advertising. Once you’ve sent your message to those who are most likely to purchase the product, you can customize the message to ensure it has the highest possible impact.

This is in contrast to passive advertising, wherein the best one can do is a straitjacket advertisement which cannot be tailored to each consumer.

3. Increase sales

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of direct marketing is that it has been observed time to  reduce costs (discussed below) and boost sales.

Advertising, in general, leads to a boost in sales, and when advertising in an effective manner, such as by contacting former customers who are likely to be interested in the organization’s current products, sales can be supercharged.

4. Data and Analytics

We’ve said this before, so we’ll keep it short; direct marketing, the impact it has, can be tracked and logged by several means, especially when it comes to marketing by electronic means. This allows the marketer to modify strategy, reduce costs, and increase sales.

5. Helps with planning, budgeting and policy formulation

Direct marketing allows the marketer and the organization as a whole with developing effective strategies that have the maximum possible impact on sales while making sure that expenditure does not exceed a predetermined limit.

This is not possible with passive advertising, as the organization is not aware of the number of consumers who are interested in the product and should, therefore, be advertised to.

6. Maintains public relations

Direct marketing assists the marketer with managing public relations. This is because most organizations have some loyalty program in place, which rewards regular consumers for their loyalty to the brand.

Direct marketing allows the organization to conveniently reward such consumers by offering them discounts, rebates, cashbacks, etc. in a targeted manner, thus allowing marketers to cultivate public relations.

7. Test products

No organization wants to have a liability on its portfolio, and why should yours be any different? Similarly, every organization needs to know which product is doing well, so it can focus on it and scale.

Direct marketing can help organizations with profiling their products. As consumer response to certain products is measured, marketers can experiment with their strategies by keeping other things constant and changing only the product, in order to understand what sells.

Direct Marketing Strategies that Work

Looking at statistics to find the best performing marketing campaigns to improve advertising strategy

Okay, now that we know what direct marketing is and the benefits it has, we’re sure you’re convinced that you want to adopt it as well. But how do you do it? Just follow this guide!

1. Identify consumers and procure contact details

The first step for an organization is to identify its consumers and procure their contact details. The means of procurement must not be unethical, as most means tend to be illegal as well and may expose the organization to a lawsuit. Besides, it’s plain immoral to do so.

An ethical and legal way of doing so is to have consumers fill forms and willingly provide data, such as email IDs, phone numbers, etc. A sign-up procedure is an excellent place to start.

Once done, categorize them into several strata, such as “Interested,” “Loyal,” “Uninterested,” etc.

2. Create the perfect message

Once you have the contact details of your potential consumers, create the perfect advertisement. The first rule of such an advertisement is that nothing must be overlooked. Each and every detail has to be accounted for.

For post, the stationery used, the colors employed, the format, etc., it all matters. For email, the format is most important, followed by how well the elements command attention. For telemarketing, the time of calling and the conduct of the telemarketer are crucial; hence, training them is important.

Moreover, identify the basis of your message. Are you targeting a particular demographic? Are you promoting one product over another, even from your portfolio? Are you sending different messages to consumers with different incomes?

All strategies are valid (as long as not illegal or unethical), and personalized messages must be created for them.

For guidance, refer to materials on how to leverage psychology to create the perfect ad.

3. Set up a logging mechanism

As mentioned repeatedly, one of the main benefits of direct marketing is its ability to gauge consumer response.

Logging is important as it will form the backbone of your analytics, the importance of which is discussed below. To fully utilize this benefit of direct marketing, you need to put in place some logging mechanism that’ll track user response.

For the popular methods of email and personal messaging, an identification pixel/code or cookies usually get the job done well. For post, an effective method is to send consumers unique coupons (remember those scratch cards?).

Logging consumer response via telemarketing is difficult, but possible if the representative is trained to record consumer response.

4. Test the campaign

Once you’re satisfied with how the advertisement looks and you’ve targeted some consumers, it’s time to release the ads.

At this time, it’s imperative not to get impatient, as there is usually a time lag between the consumers receiving your message and actual response. If, however, you feel that something is severely lacking, it is better to modify the ad while it is still in the nascent stages.

The point is, any change in the advertisement should be warranted and backed by proper reasoning. No change should be made for the sake of making changes.

5. Gather and analyze the response

This is perhaps the most important aspect of the process, and one that is often overlooked, it is crucial for you to analyze the response that you get from your campaign.

Why? Because a proper analysis will help you understand where your campaign is lacking, whether all interested consumers are exposed to your campaign, whether the ad aligns with the product, etc.

It is also crucial to understand that stagnation is not an option for your campaign, and you must always be innovating and finding ways to improve sales, and proper analysis is indispensable to the process.


Direct marketing has only recently been made possible, with the advances in communication technology. Society has advanced to the point where marketers are not restricted to passive modes of communication.

Two employees doing a fist-bump after a successful direct marketing campaign

Direct marketing, apart from being a novel concept, is also very beneficial to organizations. It helps create a streamlined marketing structure which helps the organization optimize each and every penny spent.

Besides, direct marketing is also beneficial to the consumer as they get to see ads most relevant to them.

This guide will tell you all you need to know about direct marketing and what is direct selling, their advantages, and how to go about it.

Happy marketing!

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