Direct marketing is dead. Long live direct marketing!

social fish
social fish

Direct marketing is all about communicating directly with people. This might be through a direct mail campaign, some banner advertising or SMS marketing (see GlobalMessaging for more information on this).

Like most forms of marketing, direct marketing has changed over the years and the old way of doing things is most certainly on the way out. Where you might’ve had success selling through a catalogue delivered direct to a customer’s door, it might be time to consider taking a leap into the modern world and selling through a website instead. This, of course, depends on your customer base as there are still a lot of people out there who prefer to buy from a catalogue.

Direct marketing campaigns need to work with your marketing mix

Direct marketing campaigns used to stand alone, they were tailored to a specific customer base and spoke to the needs of those people. There was no need for other kinds of marketing because you had a direct, uninterrupted line to your customer.

With so much information at our fingertips now, consumers are becoming more savvy to these techniques and they’re keeping their options open. In the new world of direct marketing, other techniques are needed to support it. For example, brand awareness is a huge part of any marketing campaign because it makes people more likely to pay attention to your direct communication rather than ignoring it in a world saturated by brand messages.

The same principle applies if you are an association marketing to members. Essentially, the relationship here is different, in that you are not aiming to ‘sell’ to a customer but connect with a person who has already invested in your association. You might be a supermarket retailer, a local sports club or an insurance company and while members have already made a commitment to you, you still need to ensure your communications with them are relevant and engaging.

Test, test, test

It always used to be that an advert or brochure was sent out and the response was measured by how many people bought a product or made an enquiry. Now, with so many levels to a direct marketing campaign, measuring return on investment (ROI) is so important.

It’s now important to test an advert before spending too much money on it. You should also measure what marketing techniques are bringing in the most profit, not just the most transactions.

Upselling and cross-selling

Direct marketing used to be about transactions. Now, sales people are determined to upsell a product or upgrade to add value to an order, or cross-sell a completely different product to their database of customers.

These sales techniques have called for a change in the way direct marketing works. Multi-channel marketing is now a much more effective way of building customer loyalty and getting them to purchase more than just a basic product. You might combine a direct mail campaign with targeted Twitter advertising and local events.


Mass marketing is over. It’s so easy to personalise something to fit exactly with what one customer is after. Gone are the days where we blanket an area in the same direct mail leaflet in a hope that we reach the right person.

Email campaigns can be tailored to different customer profiles, ensuring that the person getting the information will genuinely be interested in what you have to say. This personalisation makes direct marketing more affordable than ever.

Direct marketing isn’t dead but it’s evolving to be a distinctly different part of the marketing mix in a world that’s increasingly ruled by digital.

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