Direct Marketing

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INTRODUCTION :
Direct marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and nonprofits organizations to communicate straight to the customer, with advertising techniques that can include Cell Phone Text messaging, email, interactive consumer websites, online display ads, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, and outdoor advertising. Direct marketing messages emphasize a focus on the customer, data, and accountability. Characteristics that distinguish direct marketing are: 1. Marketing messages are addressed directly to the customer and/or customers. Direct marketing relies on being able to address the members of a target market. Addressability comes in a variety of forms including email addresses, mobile phone numbers, Web browser cookies, fax numbers and postal addresses. 2. Direct marketing seeks to drive a specific "call to action." For example, an advertisement may ask the prospect to call a freephone number or click on a link to a website. 3. Direct marketing emphasizes trackable, measurable responses from customers — regardless of medium. Direct marketing is practiced by businesses of all sizes — from the smallest start-up to the leaders on the Fortune 500. A well-executed direct advertising campaign can prove a positive return on investment by showing how many potential customers responded to a clear call-to-action. General advertising eschews calls-for-action in favor of messages that try to build prospects’ emotional awareness or engagement with a brand. Even well-designed general advertisements rarely can prove their impact on the organization’s bottom line.

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Popularity of Direct Advertising
A recent study by the Direct Marketing Association reports that in 2010, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.798 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total US gross domestic product. Also in 2010, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million US jobs.

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Benefits
Direct marketing is attractive to many marketers because its positive results can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out 1,000 solicitations by mail and 100 respond to the promotion, the marketer can say with confidence that campaign led directly to 10% direct responses. This metric is known as the 'response rate,' and it is one of many clearly quantifiable success metrics employed by direct marketers. In contrast, general advertising uses indirect measurements, such as awareness or engagement, since there is no direct response from a consumer. Measurement of results is a fundamental element in successful direct marketing. The Internet has made it easier for marketing managers to measure the results of a campaign. This is often achieved by using a specific website landing page directly relating to the promotional material. A call to action will ask the customer to visit the landing page, and the effectiveness of the campaign can be measured by taking the number of promotional messages distributed (e.g., 1,000) and dividing it by the number of responses (people visiting the unique website page). Another way to measure the results is to compare the projected sales or generated leads for a given term with the actual sales or leads after a direct advertising campaign.

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Challenges and Solutions
While many marketers recognize the financial benefits of increasing targeted awareness, some direct marketing efforts using particular media have been criticized for generating...
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