Direct Marketing for the Digital Age

We are all familiar with the pizza menus posted through our doors or the leaflets showcasing offers for new windows and doors tangled up with our post, but like with many other marketing and promotional methods, direct marketing has gone digital!

The best definition of direct marketing comes from Stone and Jacobs book ‘ Successful Direct Marketing Methods’ and cites direct marketing as:

“the interactive use of advertising media to stimulate an (immediate) behavior modification in such a way that this behavior can be tracked, recorded, analyzed for future retrieval and use.”

Although this is a very ‘marketing’ definition, the method of direct marketing can also be successfully implemented in a public relations strategy.

Direct marketing in the physical form isn’t all junk mail, and can be an extremely effective way to get your message out there. Ad Age estimated that in the US 25% of a marketers budget is spent of direct marketing. With studies, entire texts written on the marketing method and its own association, done correctly direct marketing is not something to be sniffed at and can be very powerful. Physical forms of direct mail are still used today and although in some cases it is junk mail, in other cases it is specifically targeted mail outs to an organisation’s target audience. These mail outs can contain special offers, vouchers or even just reminders of the organisation’s products or services. For example Nectar the loyalty scheme, sends out coupons for ways that their consumers can earn extra Nectar points. The more innovative the direct mail the more effective it usually, an Israeli charity wanted to raise awareness of babies being abandoned and so created this directing marketing campaign, leaving a picture of a baby on people’s doorsteps:

As today we spend more and more time on the internet, one of the best ways to target audiences is online. Direct marketing has followed the trend and gone digital. Cheaper and possibly more effective than the traditional method, digital direct marketing is gaining in popularity. Just like the traditional form, digital direct marketing can be used to target audiences with anything from vouchers, special offers and company news. You’ll more often than not see a link on a website to join a mailing list this is just one of the ways that companies can discover potential consumers online.

There are few tips that I would advise using when creating a digital direct marketing campaign and most of them are also transferable to traditional approaches as well:

1. Be Relevant or be deleted

With junk mail and spam filters becoming increasingly effective, make sure that your message is relevant to the target audience, or your message will be deleted before they even get to open it let alone read it.

2. Innovation

We see thousands of advertising messages every day, so to avoid your message being swallowed up in the mass, make it interesting. Some of the best direct marketing campaigns are innovative and make the recipient sit up and take notice of the message and in turn the organisation behind it.

3. Less is more

One of my own personal bug bears is a company that bombards you with emails. Make your newsletters monthly and do the same with your mail shots. If you’ve followed step 2’s advice then you don’t need to be sending out more than 2 or 3 of emails a month.

4. Have a plan and stick to it

Direct marketing isn’t something you should be throwing together in a day and sending out the next. Take time to plan the campaign, invest in a creative to design the graphic elements and a press officer to write the content. A well thought out message is going to be entirely more effective than an ad hoc one.

Although these tips aren’t extensive and don’t cover every aspect of digital direct marketing they do form a basis for a successful campaign. The one of the most important aspects of all forms of direct marketing is the call for action. However consumers won’t follow this call for action unless they relate to the brand and its message. This needs to be done with accurate audience targeting and innovative communication.

Digital direct marketing has the scope to be so much more innovative and effective than the traditional form. With new technology being invented daily (this may be a slight over exaggeration) incorporating things like augmented reality into direct marketing could be closer than you think. Laziness in digital directing marketing won’t cut the mustard, so to make sure your messages are communicated effectively pull your socks up and get creative!