Direct marketing involves a non-channeling kind of marketing that enables business organizations to reach their customers directly without having to use advertising methods like promotional letters or catalog distribution. Instead it utilizes marketing techniques like telemarketing, direct mail and mobile messaging. Messages used in direct marketing are focused on customers, the available data and on accountability in the advertising process.
There are some characteristics that distinguish direct advertising and marketing from other forms of advertising, including:
- Addressing the marketing messages straight to the customer.
- Compelling a specific call to action.
- Emphasis on measurable and traceable responses from the customers.
Direct marketing offers numerous benefits to marketers and their organizations, as the positive results of direct marketing are quantifiable and can be measured directly. For instance, in a situation where a firm sends out two thousand promotion solicitations and receives two hundred responses, it can be interpreted that the marketing campaign led to ten percent of direct responses.
Marketers all around the world have recognized that there are financial benefits to increasing targeted consumer awareness through direct marketing, but some forms of direct advertising have come under a lot of criticism, because of the poor quality of generated sales leads, as a result of inefficient demographic information or a poor messaging strategy. This can be quite problematic for the marketers, as well as the end users. On the part of the marketers, sending money trying to reach consumers that are not interested is a waste of time and resources.
Direct marketing can also be effectively employed for use in various types of businesses, including commercial ventures and non-profit organizations. The results from a study carried out by the Direct Marketing Association suggest that in the United States alone, marketers spend about 153 billion dollars per year on direct marketing. This represents more than 54 percent of the total advertising expenses in the United States.
During the 2011 fiscal year, direct marketing expenditures generated almost 2 Trillion dollars in incremental sales and this kind of expenditure on advertising and marketing accounts for approximately 8.5 percent of the total GDP in the United States every year. Since the advent of the internet, it has become easier and more practical for marketers to measure the results and the effects of a direct marketing campaign. This also affords marketers and their business organizations the opportunity to compare the generated leads/projected sales against the actual sales resulting from a direct marketing campaign.
Properly executed direct marketing campaigns will most likely lead to a positive return on investment, as the number of potential customers can clearly be ascertained. This is much more effective than general advertising, which involves sending out messages that are aimed at building the emotional awareness of the consumers or their engagement with the particular brand.
There are also some financial benefits attached to direct marketing, although some consumers have expressed their concerns about the environmental implications and privacy issues involved in direct marketing. Such concerns are being tackled through the use of better consumer target lists, individual opt-out lists and variable printing.