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5 types of direct marketing you can implement in your business

  • Last Updated : October 23, 2023
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  • 6 Min Read
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What is direct marketing?

Direct marketing is a strategy where you address your audience without involving intermediaries. This means that you don't use third-party platforms like social media channels or blogging software. Instead, your communication with customers is done through channels that allow for a more direct, one-to-one conversation. You can learn more about direct marketing and how it can benefit your business from our previous articles.

In this post, let's look at some of the common types of direct marketing strategies and how you can use them in your campaigns.

1. Email marketing

This includes all email campaigns you send out to potential and existing customers. These can either be inbound, where you contact people who have opted to hear from you, or outbound, where you collect or purchase the email addresses of people who might be interested in your business.

You can format your email marketing to achieve different goals. For example:

  • Newsletters: To keep in touch with your customers and share your latest business updates.

  • Product support: To offer guidance and educate customers about how to best use your products.

  • Seasonal offers: To encourage your audience to make a specific type of purchase such as an annual plan or bundle.

  • Partnerships: To promote collaborations with other businesses and convince customers to renew or retain their purchases.

  • Referral programs: To generate a list of loyal customers who can help widen your reach.

  • Advertisements: Placements in another business's email campaigns to promote your product or service to their audience.

Apple is well-known for its use of attractive visuals and bold language in its emails. Here's an example of a newsletter, seasonal offer, and advertisement combined in one email.

screenshot of the first fold of Apple

Before you send an email campaign, make sure you are in compliance with the Spam Act of 2003. Here are the three pieces of criteria you must meet before you launch a campaign:

  • Consent: Your recipient must have given you explicit permission to send them emails. This also applies to purchased email lists—every person on the list should have given permission to receive marketing and promotional email from third parties.

  • Identity: The message in your email should reflect your business. You can't email people about random offerings unrelated to your business. You must also clearly indicate your business name and provide contact details.

  • Unsubscribe: Every email you send should have a clear option to unsubscribe from future emails. If a recipient chooses to unsubscribe, you should immediately remove them from your email list.

Learn more about how to avoid sending spam from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

2. Telemarketing

Although we often attribute telemarketing to sales representatives calling potential customers, there's a lot more to it than that. Telemarketing is highly effective because you can almost always reach your target audience, and it's more personal than email.

You can use telemarketing for:

  • Cold calling: Your sales representative calls leads who have engaged with your business in some way or people from a potential customer list you've purchased from a public resource.

  • Sales follow-ups: This is more specific than cold calling where your sales representative responds to a direct request by a potential customer. They could've signed up for a discovery call on your website or contacted you through social media requesting more information.

  • General follow-ups: Your account management or marketing teams can reach out to existing customers for a periodic account check-up, review, or case study.

  • Research and analysis: When you conduct market research, surveys, and competitor analyses, you can reach out to your target audience to help form conclusions.

  • Non-profit fundraisers: If you're a non-profit organisation, you can use telemarketing as an effective way to raise funds for your cause and events. 

According to the Do Not Call Act of 2006, you can't contact any person listed in the Do Not Call register. The ACMA manages this public register, and anyone can opt out of telemarketing lists. Businesses that violate this regulation will incur heavy fines, although certain charitable organisations, religious institutions, and government agencies are exempted.

3. Direct mail

Direct mail marketing is where you contact your target audience through the post. Most recently, during the Voice to Parliament referendum campaign, advocates of both sides used this channel to great effect. You can use AusPost or another private delivery vendor to deliver your mail. This is a popular medium used by print publications, but there are also other uses for direct mail.

  • Catalogues: You can deliver product catalogues or seasonal magazines to customers who've signed up to receive your correspondence or are listed on a public register.

  • Leaflets and brochures: You can drop off promotional material about your business, events, and special offers in your audience's letter boxes.

  • Packages: This includes annual hampers, gift boxes, and other materials you send to customers.

  • Letters and postcards: You can use these for various communication purposes such as showing gratitude, communicating subscription details, delivering notices, updating customers about business or service changes, and more.

Direct mail marketing requires that your store and manage sensitive information such as addresses, names, and contact details. Therefore, you must comply with the regulations laid out in the Australian Privacy Principles. These principles outline how to securely handle your customers' personal information.

4. SMS and text messages

You likely receive text messages when you make bookings online. SMS is a popular and cost-effective form of direct marketing to reach a large audience. It works well with audiences of all ages because people tend to check their phones more frequently than emails. It's also a good way to connect with prospects before you call them up. You can use SMS for:

  • Booking reminders: Send your customers booking confirmations and alerts for upcoming appointments. This is a good way to reduce no-shows.

  • Sales and promotional alerts: If you're running seasonal sales and discounts, SMS is a good way to get your audience's attention in a short time.

  • Personalised messages: You can send season's greetings, anniversary wishes, and milestone congratulations through text message. This works especially well when you've already established a relationship with your customers.

  • Follow-ups and updates: Use SMS to send follow-up information after a call, such as website links, promo codes, and contact details. You can also use it to communicate emergency business updates like unexpected down times and maintenance notices. Many internet providers use SMSes to update customers about ongoing service disruptions or planned maintenance activities.

The Spam Act of 2003 also regulates SMS marketing. You need to:

  • Have explicit permission from a customer to send them messages.

  • Identify your business clearly as the sender in the message.

  • Give them an option to unsubscribe from your correspondence. 

5. Direct advertising and selling

Direct advertising refers to online ads you display to your target audience. These can be on social media or other publications. In both cases, even though you're using an external medium, it's still considered direct advertising because you choose your audience and remain the immediate point of contact.

Direct selling is similar to when you have a dedicated salesperson or an interface that your customers can interact with. You can use direct selling for:

  • One-on-one appointments: You can have potential customers book appointments with your sales representatives to help them make purchase decisions. These discussions could be online, via telephone, or face-to-face.

  • Door-to-door sales: Depending on your business and industry, your salespeople can visit prospects to promote and sell your products. If you choose your audience well, this can be an effective and quick-converting tactic.

  • Events: Find events in your industry where you can set up a booth or table to sell your products. These types of pop-up sales can be part of a larger conference or an open air event.  

  • Ecommerce and online stores: This is a slightly more passive sales tactic where you spend most of your efforts helping people make purchase decisions and offering after-purchase support. If you have products that you can sell online, this is a good option to boost your overall sales.

The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission enforces the Australian Consumer Law. Ensure that you read and understand the ACCC's guide on conducting fair sales and complying with lawful practices. You can also learn more about direct selling from Direct Selling Australia.

We hope this post gives you an understanding of the different types of direct marketing activities you can do for your business. Direct marketing often has a negative reputation because it can quickly become intrusive. However, if done well, there are plenty of benefits you can gain from a direct marketing strategy. Often times, complementing a direct marketing campaign with an indirect one works better than doing them separately. Experiment and find what works best for your style of business.

If you have any other topics you'd like us to cover, let us know in the comments below!

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