Direct marketing

Advantages and disadvantages of direct marketing


Direct marketing can have pros and cons. Consider these carefully before starting a campaign.

What are the advantages of direct marketing?

Some of the benefits of direct marketing include:

  • Targeting - you can send specific messages to particular groups of customers and potential customers based on demographics and buying behaviour. The more targeted your campaigns, the more successful they are likely to be.
  • Personalisation - reach your audience with a personal touch. Direct mail or email can be addressed to a specific person, and even include details like past orders. A phone call can engage a customer in conversation to start building a relationship with your business.
  • Affordable - tactics like email marketing or leafleting can be very cost effective. Most direct marketing will be more cost effective for SMEs than mass media advertising campaigns.
  • Measurable - if your marketing messages ask the recipient to take a particular action or use a specific voucher code, you can easily track the success of campaigns. This can help you plan future campaigns.
  • Informative - you can deliver detailed information on your products, services and prices unlike other forms of advertising.

What are the disadvantages of direct marketing?

Some of the downsides and challenges to overcome when using direct marketing include:

  • Intrusive - many people find direct marketing annoying and intrusive. This is especially true of telemarketing and door-to-door sales. Some people dislike marketing mail and consider it to be 'junk mail'. If consumers find your marketing tactics annoying it can create a negative brand association and make them less likely to buy. This is more likely with less targeted campaigns.
  • Environment - using leafleting or paper-heavy direct mail campaigns can be bad for the environment. To avoid this, and any negative impact on your brand image, use recycled materials or try email campaigns.
  • Low response rates - direct marketing response rates tend to be around 1% to 3%. When you reach a consumer who isn't interested in your products or services, it wastes money and they are likely to find it irritating. Use more targeted lists as opposed to sending out mass messages to minimise this.
  • Competition - it can be hard to make your messages stand out when the recipient receives high number of marketing emails or direct mail.
  • Cost - tactics like telemarketing and direct mail may have high financial and resource costs. 
  • Legal issues - there are laws relating to privacy and data protection in direct marketing. You must ensure that your mailing list only contains individuals who have consented to receive marketing messages from you.