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You have an amazing product and an irresistible offer. You have inventory ready to fill orders, staff ready to make it all happen. The one crucial element is the connection with customers. No matter what you have to sell, or what offer you have to entice customers, you need to utilize the right channel to reach the right audience. Enter direct marketing, the shortest distance between you and your customers.
If you’re new to the marketing world or overwhelmed by all of today’s choices, you may be asking, what IS direct marketing in the digital age? The editor of Direct Marketing News offers that it’s targeting specific customers with relevant information. That can be done a number of ways, but traditionally, direct marketing includes physical mail, telemarketing and door-to-door. Today we can add email, social media and targeted online ads. In her example, customer service was also used as a direct marketing tool.
Direct marketing is just that. A one-on-one, targeted touch with your customer. Compare that to indirect marketing tools like advertising, from broadcast to print to online ads, or inbound marketing techniques like referrals, search engine optimization and content marketing. These approaches cast wider nets that can catch your customers along with non-customers, kind of like shouting at a crowd. Direct marketing is more of a direct conversation.
There should be 3 components to any direct marketing campaign if it’s truly to start or build a conversation:
It would be myopic to draft up some postcards with your business name and mail them randomly to a list of addresses from the phone book. A successful direct marketing campaign requires more thought. It should have a list of specific goals, and only be distributed to a cache of strong, pre-qualified prospects. This LinkedIn article lays out several steps for planning a direct marketing campaign, and number one on the list is defining what you want to accomplish. Number two on the list is to get the right audience in scope, focusing on important demographic and behavioral information. If your current business databases are falling short on promising leads, InfoUSA can fill in the holes with demographic append services and customer cloning. Make sure your potential customers can relate to your product and offer.
No matter how wonderful your offer, no matter how targeted your audience, you still need to get people to stop and look at it. The number one job of a physical mail piece or any direct marketing effort is to get the recipients to stop and see you. Stand out with design, texture, color, interactivity, and most importantly, the offer itself.
If you’re emailing your offer, you should have one simple goal — get the reader to click through to a landing page. Think of email as a gateway to your website. It’s important to remember format and size when designing an email. Customers are likely to be turned off if they have to scroll sideways to see the entire message. Another good pointer is to be careful with your calls to action. Directing readers to “learn more” or “find out how” can be more successful than a high-pressure “buy now” button.
Once you have your campaign designed, it’s time to deploy, but that not all.
After all that work you just put in to planning and designing, you need to know what value the campaign has delivered. Each offer – whether it’s extended via mail, email, phone, or any other method – should be distinct and trackable so that you know exactly how many responses you get to that specific offer from that particular channel. You can further drill down by segmenting your audience based on a certain criteria (say, age for example), then using a specific offer code for each segment. You can then track how many people of a certain age responded. Once you’ve reviewed the success of one marketing campaign, you will know what worked and what didn’t before investing in another campaign.
Direct marketing is a lot more than one mail piece here and there. When done properly, it reaches the right audience through the proper channels, and gives your business crucial insight on what makes prospects become customers.