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Connect to customers using a direct marketing strategy

Using a direct marketing strategy to personalize your customers’ shopping experience is an easy way to outshine your competitors. A recent study from McKinsey & Company found that 71% of shoppers expect personalized communication from brands. That’s why direct marketing is more important than ever for a business’s continued success.

Table of contents

  • What is direct marketing?

  • Types of direct marketing

    • Social Media Marketing

    • Email Marketing

    • Text message Marketing

    • Messenger Marketing

  • Direct marketing in action

  • What are the benefits of direct marketing?

  • What is the difference between direct and indirect marketing?

  • Getting started with a direct marketing campaign

  • Frequently asked questions

What is direct marketing?

Direct marketing is when businesses advertise their products or services to specific individuals or groups. Unlike indirect marketing, there’s no middleman involved (like a newspaper, magazine, or TV show). Direct marketing is an incredibly effective and widely-used strategy because it’s both easy to customize and easy to measure.

Types of direct marketing

Direct marketing can be delivered to consumers on multiple channels. The most common types include:

Social Media Marketing

Advertising on social media is a great way to engage with potential customers. People spend an average of two and half hours per day on social media, so it makes sense to place ads where customers are already spending a lot of their time. And with so many social networks to choose from, there is literally a platform for everyone.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an easy, affordable way to keep customers updated on your business’s products and services. It’s also an incredibly efficient marketing tool. You only have to write one message, but you can send it to hundreds or thousands of recipients at the same time.

To save even more time, you can use email automation software to create workflows that send emails automatically based on a set of predefined rules. You can also use email automation software to customize your messages so they feel more personal to the customers you’re trying to reach.

Text message Marketing

More and more businesses are using texting to advertise to customers. With texting, you’re sending a message directly to a customer’s phone. That’s great news for business owners because open rates for text messaging are as high as 98%. Text messaging also gives businesses the opportunity to start one-on-one conversations with customers and provide a specialized experience. Additionally, you’ll also have the option to attach an image like a flyer or coupon.

Messenger Marketing

You can also incorporate messenger apps into your direct marketing strategy. Some of the most popular services include:

  • Messenger from Meta (formerly Facebook Messenger)

  • WhatsApp

  • LinkedIn

Messenger apps are considered a hybrid line of communication. You can use them to send direct messages (like texting), but they also give you the option to answer at your convenience (like email). Messenger apps make it easy to introduce your business and services to customers with the goal of shifting communication over to email or text.

Two other direct marketing channels include direct mail (brochures, postcards, flyers) and telemarketing. Mass media platforms like billboards, television, and radio aren’t considered direct marketing channels. In those instances, each platform acts as a middleman between the business and the consumer. That’s why direct marketing is a true business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing approach.

Direct marketing in action

Let’s say you own a sporting goods store and there’s an upcoming half-marathon race in your area. To take advantage of direct marketing, you could create an email campaign geared toward people who have purchased running shoes or apparel at your store in the past. That way, you’ll know you’re reaching out to customers most interested in these products. You’d also be putting your business front of mind at a time when those customers are most likely to make a purchase.

It wouldn’t make sense to send that email to people who have a history of purchasing fishing or tennis gear. It wouldn’t just be a waste of your time and effort – in fact, you could potentially alienate a customer because of this unwanted communication. The goal of direct marketing is to get the right advertisements in front of the right people to generate high-quality leads.

What are the benefits of direct marketing?

As we mentioned earlier, direct marketing takes a true business-to-consumer approach. Direct communication with customers helps you provide timely updates on business activities, new products, services, promotions, events, and much more. Some other benefits of direct marketing include:

  • Personalization – We talked about this already, but it’s worth repeating. Tailoring offers can turn casual customers into brand loyalists.

  • Targeted advertising – Instead of casting a wide net, you can hone in on one specific demographic.

  • Segmentation – When you group consumers together, you can capitalize on their exact needs and demands.

  • Save money and time – You can cut out waste by only reaching out to specific customers and groups.

  • Easier to measure – Track and measure open and click rates for reliable insights.

What is the difference between direct and indirect marketing?

Direct marketing involves selling a product or service to a specific group of people, while indirect marketing involves selling to the masses. Let’s use TV and radio commercials as an example. These kinds of ads are ideal channels for advertisers because they can quickly reach a massive audience. However, the question remains: is it the right audience?

A business might focus on an indirect marketing strategy because they’re looking to increase brand awareness and reach a broader audience. Indirect marketing tactics have long produced positive results, but it often fails to match direct marketing’s ability to personalize and measure campaigns reliably.

Getting started with a direct marketing campaign

When creating a direct marketing campaign, it’s important to establish some basic criteria for success. You’ll first want to determine your short and long-term goals, and then come up with a strategy to achieve those goals. Here are some other things you’ll need to consider when creating your direct marketing plan.

  • Which channel is best for you? – To answer this question, you’ll have to have a strong understanding of your ideal audience. If your business caters to mostly Gen Z, social media stories or text messaging will likely work best for outreach.

  • Optimize contact lists – Taking a direct approach means segmenting your list to reach the group most likely to take action. Let’s return to our sporting goods store example. Sending golf ball coupons to someone who recently purchased basketball shoes might not yield the results you’re looking for.

  • Clear call to action – Make sure your call to action is direct and concise. Some examples include “Buy,” “Sign Up,” and “Download Now” leaving little doubt about what you’d like the customer to do. Also, make sure it’s easy for your customers to take the action you’ve laid out.

  • Measure, monitor, and adjust – Tracking activity with direct marketing is simple. Pick the metrics you’d like to have measured, analyze them frequently, and make adjustments based on these insights.

Frequently asked questions

“Direct marketing” and “direct mail” are often used interchangeably – but are they the same thing? No. Direct mail is just one of the many channels you can use to accomplish your direct marketing strategy. Can businesses of any size use a direct marketing strategy? Yes. Direct marketing works for businesses both big and small. Direct marketing channels like email and social media are available to everyone. However, your contact list size will vary depending on the size of your company, your industry, and the product or service your business provides.

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