Using the 10 Best Direct Marketing Channels to Boost Profits
Over 50 Tips to Increase ROI Across Top 10 Direct Marketing Channels
Direct marketing is the type of marketing where the maker of the goods or services directly asks the prospect customers to buy the product. Direct marketing removes middlemen, affiliates, dealers, and resellers from the sale process, which makes direct marketing more profitable.
Digital marketers are returning to direct marketing in order to get their brands noticed, since the digital space has become overly cluttered.
‘OK, I know what direct marketing is,’ you might be thinking, ‘but, what the heck is a direct marketing channel?’
DIRECT, INDIRECT AND HYBRID MARKETING CHANNELS
Strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as a purely direct marketing channel. You can use almost any channel for direct or indirect marketing or a hybrid thereof.
- Direct mail can be used to send a sale offer (direct) or a referral program (indirect)
- Social media can be used to distribute coupons (direct) and to build fan following (indirect)
- Telemarketing can be used to push sales (direct) and to inform about your services (indirect)
However, there are certain channels that are more suitable for direct marketing. You can use them to tremendously increase profits by following a few simple tips that are coming your way.
TOP 10 DIRECT MARKETING CHANNELS AND HOW TO USE THEM
1. DIRECT MAIL
Contrary to what many digital marketers might say, direct mail is very much alive and kicking. It is the top channel for direct marketing, with a 10 to 30 times higher response rate than email.
Direct mail refuses to die because, unlike digital communications, direct mail is something the customer physically receives, handles, and trashes—ideally after reading it. Touching, feeling, and holding objects form essential components of human experience—we cannot really live without them.
According to research, customers respond better to tangible forms of communication.
TIPS FOR DIRECT (SNAIL) MAIL MARKETING
Follow the 40/40/20 Rule: The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Marketing states that 40% of the success of your campaign comes from your audience selection, 40% from your offer, and 20% from the quality and creative execution of your mailer. However, marketers are criticized for spending 80% of their time on designing.
Offer Discounts and Free Stuff: Providing free stuff—a cash discount, promotional sample, first-time deal, loyalty card, event invitation, free gift—will encourage your customers to open and read your mailer, and then follow through with a visit to your store, a phone call, or whatever other action you want them to take.
Print Marketing Message on Envelopes: Plain, boring envelopes are more likely to be tossed unopened. Taglines, slogans, promises, or short marketing messages prompt your customers to open that envelope.
Personalize Your Mailer: Generic printed email has a 56% open rate, compared to a stellar 98% open rate for handwritten direct mail. The reason: handwritten or hand-signed mails are more personal. Learn more about your recipients and personalize your direct mail based on their age, gender, living area, and other segmentation attributes.
Use 3D Mailer Design: A direct mail doesn’t have to be in the form of a 2D envelope. If you can afford it, invest in 3D mailers. Think tubes, pyramids and boxes. They’re harder to trash and more likely to get noticed, opened, and recalled.
2. PERSONAL SELLING
Just like its name, personal selling involves a real one-to-one interaction between the customer and the salesperson. Steps in personal selling include making the initial contact, following up, setting up an appointment through telemarketing, email or inbound channels, and then using personal skills to close the deal.
TIPS FOR PERSONAL SELLING
Make Sure It’s Right for You: Companies usually adopt a personal selling approach for selling high involvement, technical, or B2B products and services. It’s popular in the financial sector, real estate, and enterprise software industries, as well as with businesses dealing with a small number of big clients. It’s worth noting, however, that personal selling has been hugely successful for many consumer items such as makeup or sanitary napkins.
Avoid Interruption Marketing: You must be careful not to spam people with unsolicited emails and cold calls. Though these old-school tactics still work, you should try to create opt-in lists or, at least, choose your prospects carefully to maintain your brand’s integrity and avoid wasting efforts.
Design Your Sales Funnel: A basic personal selling funnel can include an acquisition channel (such as PPC, social media or telemarketing), a lead capture method (like a signup form), a lead nurturing sequence (through emails or phone calls), and a series of personal meetings before the deal is finalized. Arrange your marketing assets in a proper sequence as you design your sales funnel.
Hire Great Sales Professionals: The success of personal selling depends on ‘people power’. Your sales people must be qualified, trained, professional, genuine, and all other things that salespeople need to be. Here are some tips for hiring sales professionals.
Instill Customer Confidence: The success of your sales force depends on how much your customers can trust your business. Use social media, website, TV, and other channels to build a strong brand image. Inspire customer confidence by offering a return policy, guarantee/warranty, after sale service, and other trust signals to complement the results of personal selling.
Need more tips?
3. SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) MARKETING
Mobile-influenced offline spending has already crossed $1 trillion. People spend 69% of their media time on mobile. This makes SMS, with an amazing open rate of 98%, one of the best, quickest, and most inexpensive ways to market to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
But, isn’t SMS marketing too intrusive?
The answer is no, if you do it thoughtfully. Send SMS only to subscribed members or people who have already bought from you. Offer them something of value—a discount, special offer, freebie…you get the idea.
TIPS FOR SMS MARKETING
Gear Up for Mobility: Integrate Text Message Marketing with your website and other direct selling channels. Use SMS texts to facilitate customer transition at all important touch points. For example, send an SMS when customers visit your store, buy something, subscribe to your list, or call your office.
Send Text Messages to Your Existing Customers: Selling to a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more costly than selling to an existing one. SMS marketing is the best way to pitch your old customers with new offers.
Stay Connected with Loyal Customers: They already know you and trust you and have used your product. Most of them won’t mind if you send them relevant and interesting SMS texts. Remember the Pareto principle: 80% of your revenues come from just 20% of your customers.
Include Call to Action (CTA) and a Working Link: Provide a link to a conversion-optimized landing page. You can also give a phone number, but customers may like to take a look at your product or website before doing business with you.
Hungry for more?
4. EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING
Experiential marketing, engagement marketing, event marketing, activation, or live marketing are all different names for the same marketing strategy. In a nutshell, experiential marketing delivers a positive experience through a direct interaction between the consumer and the brand.
It’s a huge area and includes activities like offline or online events, kiosks, roadshows, street marketing, entertainment marketing, publicity tours, and immersive storytelling. To be successful, experiential marketing must use multidimensional communication. For example, a stall at an exhibition can include product display, brochures/flyers, an interactive kiosk, and direct marketing by your sales team.
TIPS FOR EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING
Put Your Consumers First: Know everything about them—their buying journey, media habits, lifestyle, mindset, behavior, products they use, and places they visit. It’s the customer and no one else who’s at the center of this marketing technique.
Audit Current Customer Experience: Find out through research what kind of an experience your customers are currently having with your product. Read more about how to conduct a customer experience audit.
Identify Touch Points, Pain Points and Passions: What are the most suitable touch points where you can deliver the experience? What are the passions and pain points you can use to persuade the customer to buy your products?
Design the Experience: Decide the format of the experience. Will it be an interactive kiosk, an entertainment event, a sporting event, a launch event, a pop-up store, or something else? What are the emotions you will invoke? What are the immediate and long term goals of the activation campaign?
Take Advantage of Technology: Select a suitable experiential marketing platform such as Limelight, SiteCore, or OnSpotSocial. Consider innovative experiences such as touchscreen kiosks and virtual or augmented reality. Here are five ways companies are using VR/AR in customer experience design.
Need more Tips?
- Read Experiential Marketing by Kerry Smith and Dan Hanover
- Here are 10 very cool examples of experiential marketing.
Although newspaper and magazine ads may still be effective at direct selling, here we’re more concerned with print as in brochures, profiles, POS displays, posters, catalogs, stationery, and other printed materials that support multiple direct marketing channels.
TIPS FOR PRINT MARKETING
Flyers: The humble flyer still works. If you don’t have the budget to go for several expensive and complicated channels, simply print and distribute some low cost flyers and kick off your direct marketing.
Brochures: Flyers are typically single-page. Brochures can have anywhere from 4 to 12 or more pages. They are great for conveying a high brand image and spicing up your personal sales or events as well as direct mail.
Catalogs: If you are a retailer or have many products to sell, a catalog is what you need. Direct mail is the best way to send it to your customers, but you can also use it in-store or during sales calls.
POS Displays: While today mobile or digital POS displays are available, printed materials such as posters, bunting flags, and 3D props are still widely used at point of sale. Inexpensive and static, they can generate product recall at a critical time when the customer is ready for impulsive buying.
Stationery and Business Cards: Regardless of the other channels you use, you will need these two for B2B direct selling. Make sure you maintain branding consistency across different print media vehicles.
Need more tips?
6. Social Media Direct Marketing
Contrary to common belief, social media and direct marketing are a perfect fit. Yes, social is an inbound channel. Yes, you can’t deliver aggressive sales pitches or do interruption marketing here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do direct marketing. Social Media Today terms Facebook a barely tapped direct sales goldmine.
Overall, thirty percent of online shoppers--and 51% for Millenials--say they would be likely to make a purchase on social media. So, if you’re not using social for direct marketing, now is the time to start.
TIPS FOR SOCIAL DIRECT MARKETING
Stream Live on Facebook/YouTube: Anyone with a smart-phone and quick wits can stream live on Facebook and YouTube these days. Why not take advantage of this ability by broadcasting your live events? They allow many off-beat marketing opportunities--share your vision, deliver a tutorial on using the latest product, live broadcast a fashion show, or provide glimpses of the weekend beach party.
Promote Exclusive Deals and Offers: Social media is the best place to promote your sale event or special offer. Distribute coupon codes, offer discounts, or hold lucky draws to engage your social media followers and push direct sales.
Build Up Your Mailing Lists: Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to drive traffic to your sale or lead generation pages. Your social media followers are more likely to buy your product or join your mailing list than someone who just discovered you.
Source User Generated Content: Encourage your social media followers to share stories about your brand—photos, videos, reviews, etc. Use this content to optimize key direct marketing touch points. For example, customer reviews featured on your website and Facebook page boost customer trust and increase conversions.
Integrate with Other Channels: To be successful, your social media direct marketing will need the support of other channels, such as telemarketing, email, and website. For example, you can link Facebook with WhatsApp and Instagram. Or, just go completely cross channel.
Looking for more?
- Here are 6 Master Moves to marry social with direct marketing.
- Lee Odden’s take on direct and social media marketing.
Email works wonders on its own as well as combined with other channels. 59% of B2B marketers call it their most effective channel for revenue generation. 80/81% of retail professionals say it’s the most effective method of customer acquisition/retention.
Businesses can earn as much as $40 for each dollar they spend on email marketing!
You have to collect email subscriptions through your website, social media, and other channels and populate your mailing lists before you can unleash email marketing.
TIPS FOR EMAIL DIRECT MARKETING
Hit the Inbox: Your email, no matter how enticing, has to reach the inbox before it can work. One in every five emails doesn’t! If you don’t want your email to end up in the junk folder or get deleted, follow the best practices to beat spam guards and filters.
Always Offer an Incentive: Offering a discount, promo code, or freebie makes it more likely that your recipients will open your email and buy your product.
Integrate with Other Channels: Email, social media, website, and SMS marketing are an excellent cross-channel combination. Use them in tandem to boost your direct marketing revenues.
Use Segmented Lists: Segment your lists based on age, gender, location, buyer persona, email activity, buying cycle, past purchases, and survey results. According to data from MailChimp, using segmented lists more than doubles the number of clicks compared to non-segmented lists.
Select the Right Software: Online marketing is all about using the right technology. Email management tools such as MailChimp or Constant Contact helps you automate and track emails. A CRM SaaS such as SalesForce or HubSpot can improve targeting across multiple direct marketing channels. Select the right tools if you want to get the jump on your competition.
All roads lead to your website, the hub of your indirect and direct online marketing. Whether you’re sending buy offers through email, social media, or any other digital marketing channel, the prospect will come to your website before taking any further actions.
Even if they don’t buy your product or service the first time, make sure they visit you again, and again, until they become paying customers.
TIPS FOR WEBSITE DIRECT MARKETING
Design Multiple Landing Pages: A landing page is where your visitors land when they come to your website. If you’re sending everyone to the homepage, it’s just bad marketing. You should have a separate landing page for each main keyword, PPC ad, and/or traffic source. Create dedicated, conversion optimized pages for your direct marketing ads if you want more sales.
Optimize Your Call to Action: Changing the color, size, and position of your call-to-action “button” can have a positive impact on sales or conversions. An action button is much more likely to get clicked compared to a text CTA. Tweak your CTA copy. For instance, writing it in first person can increase clicks by 90%. Test your CTA using A/B testing.
Provide Excellent Customer Service: Displaying your phone number and/or a live chat icon shows the customer they can approach you if things go sideways. Resolve customer complaints as soon as possible and apologize for the trouble. Keep learning from customer feedback and continuously improve your direct marketing offers.
Provide Trust Signals: Online customers need a high degree of trust before they decide to part with their money. Make their job easy by including some of the following trust signals: customer reviews/testimonials, a secure (HTTPS) domain, security logos, multiple payment methods, an address and phone number, social media profiles, and guarantees/warrantees.
Need more Tips?
9. LINEAR AND DIGITAL TV
Although time spent on online media is anticipated to overtake cable TV viewing this year, TV is still the second most viewed media type around the world. Direct marketers have used TV for decades to boost direct sales as well as to complement other media.
Cable TV may not be your best choice if you want to reach a younger audience, especially Millennials and Digital Natives. But it’s still the best way to reach Baby Boomers, Gen X and elderly viewers. It can have a force multiplier effect on all of your direct marketing channels.
TIPS FOR DIRECT MARKETING ON TV
Make a Clear and Time Sensitive Offer: Don’t include more than one offer in your 30-second spot. Make the offer clear, and tell the customers what they need to do--visit your store, buy from your website, or call your number (or another action). Announce a last date for the offer. Give your viewers a deadline for calling or buying the product in order to take advantage of an incentive—a discount, free gift, or other item of value.
Make it Look Professional: The results of your TV campaign largely depend on the quality of your commercial. You must go for a professionally produced commercial or long-form infomercial. You’ll lose more money than you save on a cheap and poorly produced commercial.
Lock Your Target Audience: If you’re showing your ad to a random population you must have money to waste. To earn a better ROI, rely on your customer research data. Target your ads based on who your customers are, the areas where they live, and the programs they watch.
Control the Cost of Airing: TV media is expensive, so you need to be very conscious about the cost. Select the cheapest time slots while considering your target market. Prepare smaller cuts of your commercial. Advertise on a local cable network instead of national or satellite TV.
Consider Using Digital or ‘Advanced’ TV: Digital TV viewing is fast evolving into Advanced TV, a data-driven media that allows you to deliver your messages and connect with your audience in a more targeted and accountable way. Using granular level insights, you can connect with consumer at a household level, track the results, and make adjustments to your strategy.
Craving for more?
The major chunk of your traffic comes from Google. You can increase the customer flow to your direct sales pages by using PPC and SEO. The more the traffic, the more products or services you can sell. However, it’s the quality of traffic that’s more important than the numbers.
By quality, we mean the relevance and type of the key phrases that are driving you traffic. By relevance, we mean that your target keywords represent the customer’s intentions correctly.
For example, the key phrase delicious cake recipes is not a very relevant key term as far as direct sales are concerned. It’s better to use buy delicious cakes.
And by type, we mean long-tail keywords that depict customer intent correctly, for instance, buy chocolate cake with fondant.
TIPS FOR DIRECT MARKETING ON GOOGLE
Search engine marketing is a vast and specialized field involving the following steps.
- Completely auditing your website and AdWords account
- Configuring your Google Analytics for conversion tracking
- Taking some or all of the following actions, as indicated by the audit
- Researching your target market and developing ideal buyer personas
- Matching target keywords and content with customer intent
- Writing SEO optimized direct-action copy in your meta titles descriptions
- Optimizing all on-page and off-page SEO factors for higher Google rankings
- Creating compelling content marketing for your business
- Focusing on the best converting keywords to increase your AdWords quality score, reduce bids, and boost profits.
Thirsting for more?
- Read the 9 tips you’ll ever need to know to rank in Google
- Here are 15 PPC tips to fuel your campaign
Nothing is good or bad unless thinking makes it so. Similarly, no channel is direct or indirect--usage makes it so. We hope that you found some valuable direct marketing tips that you can apply to the 10 most suitable channels and multiply profits.
How you balance your direct and indirect marketing efforts is up to you—but direct marketing remains a powerful way to get your message across. Is there anything you’d like to add or ask? Comment on this post or send us an email. Do not forget to share this post with your colleagues if you enjoyed it.