Direct Marketing How-to

DM Covers Direct Mail, Email Marketing and Telemarketing

Direct marketing can get superb results with narrow targeting and proper execution, or deteriorate into much-detested junk mail or spam.

In direct marketing, you send your messages directly to the consumer, bypassing media like newspapers, TV and radio. It can take the forms of direct mail, direct email marketing or telemarketing. Direct marketing campaigns allow you to measure positive responses through a call-to-action.

Direct Mail Marketing

You create an effective advertising message and deliver it to targeted recipients through postal department or other agencies. The best mailing campaigns would start from the envelope itself, telling the recipient what the offer is. You need to package the whole thing in a way that makes recipients open the envelope and read your message, instead of throwing it away as junk mail.

Direct Email Marketing

Internet direct marketing takes the form of email campaigns. Particular care is needed to ensure that your message is delivered to the recipients’ inboxes, and not discarded by spam filters or sent to the junk folder. Certain words and practices can trigger spam filters and you need to be aware of these.


You make “cold calls” to phone subscribers in your selected area. Certain countries have gone for “don’t call” lists of phone subscribers, i.e., subscribers who request that they should not be called by advertisers. Telemarketers cannot legally call members of don’t call lists.

Enhancing the Effectiveness of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing campaigns are unsolicited communications and they might simply end up as irritating annoyances to the recipients unless you organize the campaign properly.

  • Targeted List: The direct marketing mailing list is the most important factor. Analyze your mailing list and try to select a group of recipients who will be interested in what you offer.
  • Campaign Objective: A DM campaign can have different objectives from getting a sale through a brand building to providing information. Identify your objective clearly and tailor your communication accordingly.
  • Focused Message: Don’t confuse the recipient with too many choices or messages. Focus on one product or service, and on an overriding benefit to customers.
  • Incentive: Provide an incentive to respond, such as a free offer or discount, or a whitepaper to B2B customers.
  • Call to Action: Conclude with a clear call to action telling the recipient exactly how to respond. Make it easy to respond by offering options such as toll-free numbers, postage-paid cards, long-term payment plans and so on.
  • Repeated Communication: One single mail can be ignored for several reasons. Two or three communications are better at getting the best rate of response. If possible, focus on a different aspect in each communication (but with the same objective).

Direct marketing is a cost-effective marketing communication compared to communication through intermediaries such as newspapers, TV and radio. It also has the advantage that you can measure results and adapt the campaign through testing. However, unless it is executed properly, it can simply become an annoyance to recipients.


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