Direct marketing: definition, objective and operation

marketing direct : absence d’intermédiaire entre l’entreprise et sa cible.


Communication therefore takes place without an intermediary, most often through a personalized and incentive message, in order to obtain an immediate and measurable reaction. Let’s find out about the objectives and how direct marketing works.

Definition of direct marketing

Direct marketing is defined as a marketing approach based on the absence of an intermediary between the company and its target. The latter can be:

  • a customer,
  • a prospect,
  • or an organization.

Communication actions are therefore person-to-person and interactively (one-to-one marketing).

Thanks to its well-detailed databases, the company is able to adapt its promotional offers to the needs of very small segments of consumers. Sometimes even to each consumer individually. Each interaction is therefore personalized according to the profile of the target.

For the company, such a marketing action is very effective in reaching and building relationships with potential customers through extremely precise targeting. For consumers, the main benefit that direct marketing brings is that of the relevance of the content. In reality, this content meets a specific consumer need.

What is the principle of direct marketing?

The principle of direct marketing consists above all in creating a direct relationship between the company and its customers or prospects. The term “direct marketing” was coined by advertiser Lester Wunderman in 1961. However, its democratization has been greatly favored by the desire of companies to maintain better customer relations with their targets in order to develop their business.

Today, many companies include direct marketing actions in their overall marketing strategy. The goal is to make their operational marketing strategies more effective and to lay the foundations of relationship marketing. It is also not uncommon to see a combination of the marketing mix and direct marketing to form a winning duo. A number of elements are needed to run a successful direct marketing campaign such as:

  • The offer : this is what is offered to customers or prospects. It can be a promotional offer on a product or service or an expression of interest in relation to an event.
  • The client file : it is all the data collected on customers or prospects. These data must make it possible to adapt the offer as precisely as possible to the targets.
  • Communication support : It is the means by which the company comes into contact with its consumers. It must be adapted to the type of content to be transmitted and to the target audience.
  • The possibility of direct response : The message broadcast must offer customers or prospects the opportunity to respond directly without having to go through another channel to contact the company.
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Her goals

The objective of any marketing technique is to:

  • gain new customers,
  • retain customers already present,
  • and make more sales.

By integrating direct marketing marketing techniques into their overall marketing strategies, businesses are seeking to meet a strategic need.

Direct marketing actions help to obtain a rapid and precise reaction from the target. They are therefore deployed in the short or medium term. Depending on the level of interaction and brand needs, direct marketing may aim to:

  • Collect information to build a database.
  • Get a review, a visit to a website, a store or an appointment.
  • Turn a prospect into a customer.
  • Retain existing customers.
  • To increase the sales.
  • Manage customer dissatisfaction.
  • Increase the company’s market share.

The development of a direct marketing campaign takes into account five main steps:

  1. the creation of the message,
  2. identification of the target,
  3. the choice of communication tools,
  4. automation of the marketing campaign,
  5. and monitoring and analysis of results.

The message to convey

Creating the message is a crucial step in developing a direct marketing campaign.

This is indeed what will push the recipients to take the desired action. Its content must therefore bear the brand’s values ​​and be relevant, original and convincing.. It must highlight the products and services as well as the strengths of the company.

Usually, a direct marketing message conveys a promise or presents an opportunity. The desire to benefit from the promise or the opportunity is therefore what will motivate the client or prospect to take immediate action.
It can be an invitation to an event, the presentation of a product or a service, a reduction, a bonus to be received after the action, etc.

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However, the opportunity or promise must be real for customers to be happy with it.

An offer that does not keep its promises will be counterproductive.

Identifying the target

Like the creation of the message, the personalization of the target is a decisive step in the success of a direct marketing campaign.

It consists of collecting relevant information on the customer throughout his journey to better qualify him in the customer database. The information collected is for example:

  • contact details (names, emails, faxes, contacts, etc.),
  • purchase history,
  • the products consulted,
  • typology,
  • needs,
  • areas of interest,
  • behavior on the website, etc.

Each interaction with the client or prospect is an opportunity for the company to know its target and therefore to complete its profile. CRM software are very suitable tools for this. Companies use it to generate leads for each addition to the cart, purchase, exchange (phone call, email, appointment), etc.

The qualified contact file thus generated is then used to segment the customer database. Each direct marketing campaign will therefore be oriented towards a specific segment, selected according to predefined criteria..

Direct marketing communication tools

Direct marketing can be seen as the set of marketing actions that help send the right message to the right target using the right communication channel.

The advent of NICT in the twentiethth century has favored direct multi-channel marketing. Companies could then distribute their campaigns through many channels according to their objectives and budgets. The traditional multichannel direct marketing tools are:

  • E-mailing or email marketing : it is undoubtedly the cheapest and easiest solution for a company to get in touch with its target.
  • The box : sending of offers, personalized announcements in the mailbox of a target.
  • Telemarketing, phone calls or phoning : sell directly using the phone.
  • Interactive kiosks : terminals where consumers can get information and make purchases.

The surge of new technologies in the 2000s gave birth to new communication techniques, especially digital ones. Companies now have new tools to communicate with their targets:

  • Digital marketing and social marketing : use digital tools (emails, websites, bogs, online videos, mobile applications, social media) to send a message directly to consumers.
  • Mobile marketing : send a message to a consumer who uses a mobile phone, based on a promotion, geolocation or news.
  • Online advertising : make online advertisements to encourage the customer or potential customer to take action (affiliation, search or display).
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Automation of direct marketing or marketing automation

Developing and managing direct marketing campaigns requires good organization and timing.

This is why businesses large and small are now resorting to task automation with marketing automation software. Recurring tasks such as sending sms or e-mail are then scheduled for automatic execution.

In addition, the programming of tasks can be done taking into account criteria such as:

  • the profile of the target,
  • the time of the interaction,
  • and the behavior of the latter.

A customer or a prospect can therefore receive personalized messages at specific points in their journey.. All this automatically.

Analysis and monitoring in direct marketing

Monitoring and analyzing the results of a campaign is a common point in all marketing strategies.

This consists of monitoring the performance of marketing operations using performance indicators (KPIs) and analyzing the results obtained at the end of the campaign. The objective of this step is toidentify the weaknesses of the direct marketing strategy to correct them.

The results obtained are compared with the expected results; in this way, we have the view on the objectives achieved or not. Such as the number of appointments made, the number of sales made, or the number of responses obtained, etc.

These results will also be used to determine the cost of retaining a customer and the cost of acquiring a new customer. They will help measure the return on investment of the campaign.

What to remember about direct marketing?

Unlike inbound marketing and permission marketing which aim to bring the customer to you, direct marketing consists of going directly to the customer to make him an offer. He is present in both BtoB marketing and BtoC marketing. We will note all the same its personalized approach which encourages the customer or the prospect to act quickly.

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