Direct marketing – is it dead in a digital world?

This is an interesting question and a conversation I often have with my clients. Is direct marketing still a valid route to market? What results could you expect? I would argue yes. In a digital age where we find ourselves bombarded with messages on a daily basis via email, ads and our social media channels, this is where direct marketing can really help to achieve that stand out and cut through. It is worth noting, that all media have a different role to play in the marketing mix, some media will be focused on brand awareness and others will be on driving tactical results. It is important to first get the base level of activity working well (eg: emails, social media, etc), before investing further in other media such as advertising or direct mail.

What is Direct Mail?

This form of marketing activity is historically where marketeers would have focused their energies, to help retain an existing client base. Prior to email marketing brands would have sent a postal direct marketing campaign, directly to their clients. A couple of recent examples of brands that still do this is “the White Company” and “Hobbs” – both sending small taster catalogues of their new ranges direct through my letter box. These items gain the cut through, have a good tactile feel to them, combined with support form their websites, emails and social media activity can really drive results.

What are the results?

Historically, this type of marketing activity would have formed a big part of the over arching marketing strategy, much like email, there is an easier way to quantify performance eg: Return on Investment (ROI). This can be quantified through a dedicated telephone numbers and/ or quoting a specific reference to get a discount. These mechanics would have meant that it was easy to understand how successful the campaign has been. With email marketing now being as sophisticated as it is, direct mail is a more costly exercise, but it still brings value. The Data and marketing Association 2018 statistical fact book states that targeting customers on an individual level increases response by 50%. In many respects we are going full circle.

There are environmental/ CSR aspects to also consider as part of your direct marketing campaign – selecting recycled paper for example can help with this. The cost of print and postage will obviously increase the cost of the campaign, but if it creates better customer connection, better results and more brand recognition – it makes sense to consider this way of engaging with your target audience.

In conclusion, direct mail can be an effective way to connect with your ideal client and an important part of the marketing mix, for a business of any size. Done well and as part of an overall marketing strategy it can increase cut through, engagement and ultimately bring something different to the relationship between brand and customer.

Sophie Comas

A highly successful self-motivated and results driven, senior marketing professional. My passion lies within developing and delivering marketing solutions which make a difference in today's complex digital market place. A marketeer with a strong academic background and broad ranging level of experience working with small businesses and in the travel and hospitality sector, across the Thames Valley, I love a challenge!

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