In the UK, slightly different definitions of direct marketing are made than the ones accepted by the US Direct Marketing Association (DMA). In the UK, it is a method of marketing which develops a direct relationship between the company and its customers in an individual base. Whereas, Stone and Jacobs (2001) define direct marketing as an interactive system of marketing, to effect a response which can be measured, recorded and analyzed on a database for further use.
Roberts and Berger (1989) also affirm that it is an interactive system because both the marketer and the customer communicate with each other. In addition to this, the marketer gives a chance to the individual to respond and gets feedback from the individual. According to Roberts and Berger (1989), the measurability of direct marketing activities is very important. This can be obtained through the opportunity that the particular communication which develops a response from the individual can be identified. Moreover, the contact can be carried through any communications media. As Stone and Jacobs (2001) acknowledge, direct mail is just one of the media which is used for direct marketing among a wide range of other alternatives such as TV, radio, magazines and telephone. With the advent of internet, e-mail has become a new communication channel which is quicker, easier and cheaper. In addition to these, it is mostly interpreted as a media, which can gather more responses and these responses can be measured more easily (Tapp, 2000).
Even only 20 years ago it was not anticipated that more than half the Fortune 500 companies would utilize from direct marketing. It has many advantages in addition to its measurability and these are concentration, immediacy and personalization advantages. For instance, an advertiser can choose the individuals who are interested in purchasing certain products and buying them through mail. Therefore, concentration can highly be achieved by direct mail. These mails also contain easy-to-use, simple and maybe even prefilled reply devices in order to get the immediate response. An example of this is, putting the name of the recipient in the reply form beforehand would make it easier for the individual to fill in (Nash, 1995).
According to Jutkins (1994), personalization is also vital in success of direct mail as well as e-mail because to know and use the correct name of the people increase the responses. In other words, Brann (1972) affirms that if an offer goes to the wrong person, it may not recieve a response even though it is a great offer. Personalizing the message for each individual related to their interests and preferences based on their previous and up-to-date data has a great impact on minimizing opt-outs. In other words, the customers would read the messages if fit the interests of the customers (Stone, Bond and Blake, 2003).
It has been argued that direct marketing can achieve a wide range of important issues for a company including greater sales of a product/service, setting up customer relationships, adding value to the company/products by differentiating its offers, succeeding in better targeting by the help of the measurability, strengthening the brand relationships and building customer loyalty. As it enables acquiring insant responses with its customers, it contributes to the loyalty. This loyalty can be accomplished by the cornerstone of direct marketing - database - that is used in order to retain individual customer information (Tapp, 2000).
Direct marketers want the customers to take an action in some forms such as direct response and ordering. Fraser-Robinson (1992) claims that recipients like free offers. In other words, if you buy a kind of insurance, you can be offered to get another one free. According to Graham and Jones (1985) an example of this can be the coupons embeded in the local Sunday newspapers fast-food companies such as McDonalds and Burger King. Free or discounted products can be acquired by these.
“It’s the offer that suggests the action” (Fraser-Robinson, 1992; 21).
Many mediums such as direct mail, TV, radio, magazines, press, door-to-door and telemarketing are used in order to distribute these offers (Tapp, 2000). However, when it comes to the medium of email these offers can sometimes be considered as junk mail or spam. Therefore, accurate and up-to-date customer information is vital to reach the individuals who would respond to the company.
As noted by Fraser-Robinson (1992), the paramount success of direct marketing relationship can not be gained without a marketing database. In view of this, McCorkell (1997) points out that, recording accurate information about the customers on an individual base, keeping them up-to-dated and organized would provide a competitive advantage to the company. Moreover, it has been argued by Nash (1995) that database marketing is used for selectivity and segmentation in order to serve the needs of those selected consumers in a better way. Therefore, it enables a long-term customer relationship which would increase the loyalty and by the help of the data collected products/services can be improved (Tapp, 2004). Valentino (2002) suggests that managers should examine these databases in order to understand and comment on the information found.
The data can be about paramount amount of subjects such as the customers’ demographics, future buying plans, beliefs, lifestyles, competitor spending habits, interests, etc. These data can be provided through questionnaires, direct mail, loyalty cards, etc. However, false and incomplete data would lower the efficiency of direct marketing and it may affect the company’s profitability in a serious way (Robertshaw and Marr, 2006). Resulting from this McCorkell (1997) claims that name and address management is a key component because not recognising the variety of these which are belonged to the same individual may result in duplicate message and inaccurate data. This suggests that unusable data should not be collected by marketers in order to prevent confusions. Having less but significant, useful and latest information about the customers is more important than having too much unneccessary ones (Tapp, Hicks and Stone 2004).
According to Graham (2002) the reliance on direct mail by the internet companies in order to promote their websites is evidence of how much direct mail is important. Graham points out that the aim of direct mail is to reach potential customers, as the permission of using their data is not neccessary. The companies can chose a format according to their budget among a wide range of alternatives such as multi-page catalogues, postcards and folded one-page advertising sheets (Stone and Jacobs, 2001). However, a classical format used for direct mail consists of a letter, brochure or flyer, a reply form and business reply form placed in an outer envelope. This format is used to have less costs. It has been argued by Graham and Jones (1985) that the aim of the direct mail package is to create action. Brann (1972) also agrees that direct mail’s success is related to its capability to take the individual’s attention and prompt him/her to take action.
In Graham’s view, the following issues should be considered to achieve improving the direct mail programme even more:
- Take the look of the mail seriously in order not to give the impression of a junk mail.
- Personalize the mail by using the first and last names of the recipients.
- To reach the customers emotions and telling stories about victories in problem solving would strengthen the message’s success.
- Make the mail interesting to make the customers remember it.
- Understand the importance of using short and clear sentences and focusing on what the customers want
- Quote paper
- Melis Ceylan (Author), 2007, Exploring benefits of E-mail Marketing compared to traditional Direct Mail, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/85743