Direct marketing is a form of business outreach that does not rely on conventional advertising. It is used by businesses to send information about its products and services directly to a targeted set of people who are predisposed to buy. This group is often called a target market.
Improve your marketing ROI with these 5 tools
Engage those customers who are most likely to buy from you with these strategies.
Targeted online display ads.
Before we delve into the details of these five tools, let’s examine what direct marketing is and why it’s a smart business move.
What is direct marketing?
Regular emails from an online trading platform offering you stock investment tips is an example of direct marketing. Another example is sale coupons texted to you from a merchant. Direct marketing messages can be conveyed to likely buyers via:
- Text messaging
- Online display ads
- Phone calls
Direct marketing is used by business organizations to both inform their prospects or clients about their products and services and to persuade them to buy or take a step towards buying. That step could be checking out a website or making a phone call to obtain more information.
Advantages of direct marketing
The ability to communicate directly with those pre-inclined towards a product or service gives direct marketing an edge over traditional mass advertising, which targets all and sundry.
The high level of precision that direct marketing can achieve provides unprecedented advantages to businesses. These include the following:
- You can tailor the message to the exact needs and interests of your recipient.
- It’s extremely cost-effective because you communicate only with those who are predisposed to buy your product or service.
- You can closely track and analyse response to your marketing efforts and make improvements for even better results.
- Businesses can bypass traditional distribution channels like retailers and sell far more cost-effectively directly to the consumers.
There are a number of highly efficient direct marketing tools that your business could use to reach out to your customers directly. Some of these are given below.
Put your advertising dollars to the best use
Unlike mass marketing such as TV ads, direct marketing appeals to a smaller group of likely customers.
Phone calls are a very effective direct marketing tool, as they allow a business representative to speak directly to a current or prospective customer.
Because it allows a more personal interaction, telemarketing works well for both the seller and the buyer.
A company can connect better with their customers by way of a direct human-to-human conversation. One can:
- Explain product attributes.
- Answer questions.
- Overcome objections.
- Reach out to a larger number of people than with personal sales calls.
You can also track and tabulate the performance of your telemarketing team.
2. Promotional emails
Almost half the world uses email, of which 200 million are Indians. It is an extremely effective way to reach out to your target audience — wherever they might be.
Email gives you the advantage of creating personalized messages that directly address the recipient’s concerns.
Personalized emails build rapport, helping you both add new customers and retain the existing ones.
Email lists are usually gathered via a signup form you place on your website, blog or social media pages. It is important to only send emails to those who have chosen to receive such marketing communications.
An email is a very flexible instrument that lets you send plain text and graphics along with attachments. You can also scale up an email campaign at will, as well as track and measure its success. Experts recommend every email includes a call-to-action in it to push response.
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3. Text messaging
Texting is the fastest and most convenient way for a business to reach out to its current and future clients anywhere, any time. People are known to respond much faster to a text than to email or a phone call.
The potential of texting as a means of direct marketing cannot be underestimated in a country like India, with its 600 million smartphones.
The principle advantage of texting is that a huge majority of the recipients of text messages read them within minutes of receiving them, leading to a very impressive ROI. Besides, with people always carrying their phones with them, texting is a great way to send time-sensitive messages. You can use information about your customer’s past purchase behaviour to send a targeted text message at an opportune time — say, during a sale.
4. Targeted online display ads
In today’s times it is not a question of whether one will opt for online display ads, but when. This is just as true of India, where 560 million people use the internet. Any business, regardless of size, cannot keep postponing the decision of tapping into the vast and enticing Google Ads and Facebook ad networks.
For the any Indian business eying a global market, online ads are the best way to achieve highly specific targeting at a low entry price. It lets it target very precise niches, thereby gaining them a competitive advantage. Besides, online display advertising lets one quantify ROI and calibrate one’s ad campaign, increasing or decreasing your spending according to the success achieved.
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One might have imagined that newsletters wouldn’t amount to much in the era of instant communication and social media updates. But businesses continue to use newsletters to inform and educate their prospects and customers.
Newsletters work well because they are the cheapest way of delivering quality information to one’s prospects and customers.
Modern desktop publishing software makes it quite easy to produce well-formatted and visually appealing newsletters that can be mailed to a dedicated email list. These can be sent out on a regular basis to create a binding relationship with prospects and customers.
Digital marketing is fast becoming mainstream in India, with more and more businesses realizing the importance of making it an integral part of their business strategy.
Telemarketing, email, text, online display ads and newsletters are time-tested tools that have worked extremely well for a very large number of Indian companies. Add one or more of these strategies to this year’s marketing plan … and watch your sales increase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most commonly asked questions about direct marketing are as follows:
Q- What constitutes a good direct marketing example?
Direct marketing has really come into its own in the digital age with the advent of the social media platforms. While traditional means of connecting with one’s prospects like catalogs, brochures and flyers still work, it is the digital means of outreach like emails, online newsletters and the premier social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that can convey algorithmically primed content that is defining direct marketing these days.
Q- Which are the four main types of direct marketing?
The four most important types of direct marketing are-
- Email marketing- Though this is one of the oldest forms of direct digital reach out, it is easily the most effective in terms of ROI across all businesses regardless of size. These emails can be of various types including newsletters, seasonal offers, collaboration proposals and referral programs.
- SMS or text messaging – Text messaging is an extremely cost-effective method of connecting with a large target audience. Considering the fact that most people check their text messages on their phone way more times than email, this form of direct marketing works beautifully across age groups. What’s more, text messaging can be a prelude to calling prospects. SMS and text messaging are ideal for sending reminders, promotional alerts and personalized messages.
- Telemarketing- This remains a highly effective manner of direct communication with one’s prospects on account of the fact that it provides instant personal access, which cannot be replicated by any other form of outreach. It can be used for a variety of purposes including cold calling and following up with old prospects as well as carrying out research and analysis.
- Social media marketing-This is the gift of the digital age to marketers. Social media marketing affords one an unparalleled opportunity to interact directly and intimately with one’s prospects and customers, allowing one the opportunity to regularly share the latest product or service offerings. What’s more one’s prospects can become one’s best advocates by sharing one’s content with their own networks. Besides, they can help provide real time feedback.
Q- What are the three main elements of direct marketing?
The three principal elements of direct marketing are as follows:
- Creating a prospects list- This is the crucial first element of direct marketing which lays the very foundation of a successful direct outreach strategy.
- Developing the offer- Crafting an offer that serves to meet the exact requirements of one’s prospects is an equally crucial element of the direct marketing process, for on that depends the prospects’ decision to buy one’s product or service.
- Choosing the media for message delivery- This assumes huge importance in the digital age where one can interact with a large number of one’s prospects in real time and in the most intimate manner possible. Choosing the media that are just right for one’s product or service can be the defining factor behind one’s direct marketing outcome.
UPDATE: This direct marketing post was updated on 21 April 2020 and 4 April 2022.