Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
n. (context business marketing English) Marketing that reaches customers by communications directly addressed to the customer.
n. marketing via a promotion delivered directly to the individual prospective customer
Direct marketing is a form of advertising which allows businesses and nonprofit organizations to communicate directly to customers through a variety of media including cell phone text messaging, email, websites, online adverts, database marketing, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters and targeted television, newspaper and magazine advertisements as well as outdoor advertising. Among practitioners, it is also known as direct response.
Direct marketing focuses on the customer, data, and testing. Hence, besides the actual communication, a direct marketing campaign will incorporate actionable segments and use pre- and post-campaign analytics to measure results. Characteristics that distinguish direct marketing from other types of marketing are:
- A database of names (prospects, customers, businesses, etc.), often with certain other relevant information such as contact number/address, demographic information, purchase habits/history, and company history, is used to develop a target market with common interests, traits or characteristics. Generating such a database is often considered part of the direct marketing campaign.
- Marketing messages are addressed directly to this list of customers and/or prospects. Addressability comes in a variety of forms including email addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, postal addresses, and web browser cookies.
- Direct marketing seeks to drive a specific "call to action." For example, an advertisement may ask the prospect to call a free phone number, mail in a response or order, or click on a link to a website.
- Direct marketing emphasizes traceable, measurable responses. It also emphasizes maximizing response rates by testing while minimizing advertising expenses when engaging prospective customers, regardless of the medium used.
Direct marketing is practiced by businesses of all sizes. A direct advertising campaign aims to deliver a good return on investment by showing how many potential customers responded to a clear call to action. This is in contrast to general advertising, which eschews calls for action in favor of messages that build prospects’ emotional awareness or engagement with a brand.