Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing is a scenario in which a merchant solicits business to individuals who or businesses that did not request this solicitous contact. Direct marketing attempts to send its messages directly to consumers without the use of intervening media. This unsolicited information involves commercial communication in the form of direct hardcopy mail advertisements, e-mail advertisements or telemarketing over the telephone.

Virtually all of direct marketing campaigns go beyond the transference of information, generally to raise consumer awareness and a menu of goods or services provided by the merchant who initiated the campaigns. The merchant often makes a special, limited-time, limited-condition offer by which a consumer must act in an immediate way in order to render the savings provided. When new customers emerge from direct marketing campaigns, merchants focus the tracking of when those customers received their information, how they felt about it and what expectations they may have of the merchant. The amount and value of this response to merchants by potential customers who receive direct marketing materials is incredibly valuable in regards to the strength and type of the ad campaign itself in addition to overall need of the business at hand.

Massive volumes of hardcopy direct mail material – that goes through traditional parcel postal services directly to homes and business mail boxes – has existed in the U.S since the early 1960′s. The electronic version of such direct mail that is sent to personal computer user’s e-mail addresses – referred to as spam in some cases – has existed since the early 1990′s. Since the advent of fixed and moveable type in the 1400′s, direct mail has existed in the form of catalogs, proceeded by advertisement circulars nearly five hundred years later.

Direct marketing hardcopy material can come in the form of circulars or fliers; letters of intent and sale; mail order catalogs for goods and services; or even product samples coupled with literature that invite new customers to purchase larger quantities of goods in retail settings or directly from the manufacturer, also through the mail

While results of direct marketing are easy to measure for positive reaction, it is, of course difficult to track negative responses or those who neutrally throw out or delete incoming direct mail material.

Direct marketing material comes in many forms such as magazine ads, radio spots, internet banner ads, billboards, door hangers, fliers and virtually any medium.
The most common form of direct marketing is direct mail,[citation needed] sometimes called junk mail, used by advertisers who send paper mail to all postal customers in an area or to all customers on a list.

Any medium that can be used to deliver a communication to a customer can be employed in direct marketing. Probably the most commonly used medium for direct marketing is mail, in which marketing communications are sent to customers using the postal service. The term direct mail is used in the direct marketing industry to refer to communication deliveries by the Post Office, which may also be referred to as “junk mail” or “admail” and may involve bulk mail.

Junk mail includes advertising circulars, catalogs, free trial CDs, pre-approved credit card applications, and other unsolicited merchandising invitations delivered by mail or to homes and businesses, or delivered to consumers’ mailboxes by delivery services other than the Post Office. Bulk mailings are a particularly popular method of promotion for businesses operating in the financial services, home computer, and travel and tourism industries.

In many developed countries, direct mail represents such a significant amount of the total volume of mail that special rate classes have been established. In the United States and United Kingdom, for example, there are bulk mail rates that enable marketers to send mail at rates that are substantially lower than regular first-class rates. In order to qualify for these rates, marketers must format and sort the mail in particular ways – which reduces the handling and costs required by the postal service.

Advertisers often refine direct mail practices into targeted mailing, in which mail is sent out following database analysis to select recipients considered most likely to respond positively. For example a person who has demonstrated an interest in golf may receive direct mail for golf related products or perhaps for goods and services that are appropriate for golfers. This use of database analysis is a type of database marketing. The United States Postal Service calls this form of mail “advertising mail.”

E-mail Marketing

E-Mail marketing is essentially the submission of graphic imagery and/or text that is transmitted to known or unknown recipients. This form of marketing in recent years has passed telemarketing in frequency. From the user end, the oversaturation of direct mail has created a system to block such “spam” mail upon entry at their e-mail address.


The third most common form of direct marketing is telemarketing in which marketers contact consumers by telephone. The unpopularity of cold call telemarketing has led some U.S. states and the U.S. Federal Government to create what are known as “no-call lists” and legislation that incur heavy fines. This process may be outsourced to specialist call centers.

Broadcast Faxing

Another type of direct marketing, broadcast faxing, is now less common than the other forms due to the proliferation of personal computers and e-mail and because it is partly due to laws in the United States and elsewhere which make it illegal.

Voicemail Marketing

Another type of direct marketing has emerged out of the market prevalence of personal voice mailboxes and business voicemail systems. Due to the excess of e-mail marketing, and the high expense of direct mail and telemarketing, voicemail marketing is a cost-effective means by which to reach people with the human vocal contact. Do Not Call legislation has greatly diminished voicemail marketing use.


Couponing mailing is used in print media to elicit a response from the reader. An example is a coupon, which the reader cuts out and presents to a retail store check-out counter to avail of a discount. Coupons in newspapers and magazines cannot be considered direct marketing, since the marketer incurs the cost of supporting a third-party medium (the newspaper or magazine); direct marketing aims to circumvent that balance, paring the costs down to solely delivering their unsolicited sales message to the consumer, without supporting the newspaper that the consumer seeks and welcomes.