Let’s start with some history of brand-consumer communications. For a long time, this was done via mass advertising – TV, radio, print. As more niche media platforms were launched, it became possible to segment audiences. Then came direct marketing – individuals could be identified by their addresses and mailers sent to them. Starting in the mid-1990s, the Internet brought in very targeted advertising – and also pricing based not on size of audience, but on performance (clicks, form fills, transactions).
Let’s dig deeper into direct marketing, before we get to the world of email marketing.
From Wikipedia: “Direct marketing is a form of communicating an offer, where organisations communicate directly to a pre-selected customer and supply a method for a direct response. Among practitioners, it is also known as direct response marketing. By contrast, advertising is of a mass-message nature. Response channels include 800-numbers, reply cards, reply forms to be sent in an envelope, websites and email addresses… Direct marketing is attractive to many marketers because its results, positive or otherwise, can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out 1,000 solicitations by mail and 100 respond to the promotion, the marketer can say with confidence that the campaign led directly to a 10% conversion. This metric is known as the ‘response rate’, and it is one of many clearly quantifiable success metrics employed by direct marketers. In contrast, general advertising uses indirect measurements, such as awareness or engagement, since there is no direct response from a consumer. Measurement of results is a fundamental element in successful direct marketing.”
From Cyberclick: “An essential aspect of direct marketing is that the consumer response is measurable: for example, if you offer a discount for an online store, you should include some kind of cookie or pixel to let you know if the user has used of the code… The most powerful and innovative direct marketing strategies want to elicit a reaction in the target audience using content delivered directly to the consumer, both physically and through the email marketing. A very striking graphic design, a surprising product, or a video that touches the heartstrings of the listener, can elicit a direct response from the consumer.”
From CFI: “The term “direct marketing” was first popularised by an American man named Lester Wunderman. In 1967, he identified trends in marketing and defined it using the term “direct marketing.” Thus, Wunderman is considered to be the father of contemporary direct marketing. Coincidentally, he was also responsible for the creation of the toll-free 1-800 number, an invention that is still widely in use today.”