How effective is direct marketing?

15th November 2021

Direct marketing can be highly effective when marketers understand their target audience. There are many ways to deliver direct marketing to customers so understanding which type is most appropriate for your target audience is the key to success. We will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of direct marketing to help your brand to gain an understanding of the many methods available, as well as looking at some examples of successful campaigns. 

What is direct marketing?

Direct marketing is a form of communication that allows brands to directly target an audience. A range of media and channels provide brands with several alternative methods when approaching direct marketing. Methods include:

  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Flyer
  • Newsletters
  • Postcards
  • Coupons
  • Emails
  • Targeted online display ads
  • Phone calls
  • Text messages

Direct marketing reaches customers fast and effectively by using targeted strategies and approaches. Direct marketing material will include a strong call to action, and it is important to ensure it is measurable in your customer’s response. 

What is Indirect marketing?

Indirect marketing allows companies and brands to showcase their products but without pushing customers down a direct purchase path. It looks to educate the consumer on products and the brand as a collective, whereas direct marketing concentrates on converting customers to purchasing a product. Indirect marketing builds brand awareness and familiarises customers with your brand.

There are of course advantages and disadvantages with everything, so we have outlined the key points to help you decide whether direct marketing is suited to your brand.


The more targeted your campaigns are the more successful they will be as they directly reach audiences with products that are relevant to them. Wishpond found that the average CTR for retargeting ads is 10 times higher than regular display ads. For example, a discount email to parents offering money off school shoes in September is directly reaching customers who you know will be spending money on certain products. Knowing the consumers’ needs will lead to a more successful campaign. 

Direct marketing offers your brand the opportunity to personalise your campaigns by knowing customer spending habits. By using retargeting your brand can direct products effectively. Knowing your customer’s habits will allow you to create direct marketing campaigns that are more cost-effective, as your brand can identify customers most likely to buy your product. Once these customers are identified they can be targeted with campaigns that are sure to pull them in to convert. The return on investment is high when your brand uses direct marketing, as the likelihood of a sale being made to a target customer list is higher than a broader marketing campaign.

Direct marketing is more measurable in comparison to indirect marketing as the audience is specifically targeted and pulled in with a strong CTA, this allows brands to collect data based on the response of the campaign. Your brand then can learn more about a target audience which can then be used to build a stronger relationship with customers, creating strong foundations for future campaigns. Tailoring future campaigns based on the data collected with direct marketing will allow your brand to continue to see ROI grow.


Direct marketing through flyers and postcards can be environmentally unfriendly as not all customers wish to be contacted, so will often throw away the materials. The PwC’s June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey found that half of all global consumers surveyed say they’ve become even more eco-friendly, so brands need to understand customer needs. There has been a rise in direct marketing on digital platforms such as email and social media as modern-day consumers are found on these platforms. Your direct marketing should not only meet the customer’s spending habits but also their values, with all marketing materials portraying your brand message.

As customers are often swarmed with marketing materials your direct marketing can be easily ignored so your brand will need to create engaging campaigns that stand out. The average person is exposed to 4000-10000 advertisements a day but under 100 will grab the attention of the consumers claim, digital marketing experts. So, it is no surprise that some customers find direct marketing annoying and intrusive as they do not like how personalised adverts have become. Hence the push for 3rd party cookies to be removed.

Direct marketing shouldn’t be plain, your brand should create innovative campaigns that make your products stand out especially in a crowded market. Here are some direct marketing examples that got people talking and effectively reached the target audience, going viral and expanding the reach to new customers:

Ikea: Pregnancy test ads

Within magazines, Ikea included an advert directly targeted to pregnant women which read, “Peeing on this ad could change your life”. The idea was simple but highly effective. If you were pregnant or believed you could be, Ikea encouraged readers to pee on the advert. The ad used technology like those found in pregnancy-test kits.  If a positive result was detected, the Ikeas family discount price was revealed next to the image of a crib. 

The campaign quickly went viral with mixed opinions on social media. However, we think the alternative methods made this ad stand out and therefore think this is a great example of engaging direct marketing.

Ikea pregnancy test advert
Ikea Pregnancy Test

Nike’s stadium shoes box

Nike’s stadium shoebox was targeted at children. The marketing campaign was impressive and economical, created to encourage children to take up athletics. The limited-edition shoeboxes were designed to look like a stadium inside and out, not only was a printed image of the stadium on the box, but it also played a sound once opened. So as the customers opened their new shoes, they got to see the beautiful stadium and the roar of the crowds creating an emotional response to the product and brand. By targeting a younger audience, the packaging became more than a box it became a playground for the imagination.

Nike stadium shoe box
Nike Stadium Shoe Box

What brands should use direct marketing?

Brands across industries will use direct marketing in some form as it is one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and it can be tailored to fit the brand messaging. What we have discovered from this blog is that direct marketing including a strong CTA will not only lead to conversions but also allow your brand to collect data for future campaigns. 

How to effectively use direct marketing?

To effectively implement a successful direct marketing campaign your brand must first understand your target audience. Understanding the needs of a specific audience and what they will respond to will allow your brand to engage directly with them which leads to higher engagement rates and higher ROI. New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences. 

Direct marketing can be delivered across multiple platforms simultaneously. So, consider how to effectively engage your audience, whether that be on digital or F2F as both offer differing levels of interaction with the customer. By connecting with the consumer across platforms you can ensure they are pushed through the marketing funnel. F2F marketing can be used to introduce your brand whilst collecting sign-ups and data which is then transferred into organic and paid social. Your brand then can capture and convert customers directly. 

GottaBe! can help you with your direct marketing from content, design, and copy; our team will work with your brand to create bespoke marketing campaigns tailored to your customers. With over 4,500 brand ambassadors we are also able to provide the staff to reach your customers in person with direct flier distribution and experiential marketing. If you’re looking to reach an ethnic audience why not head over to our sister site GottaBe! Ethnic as a multicultural marketing agency our experts can help you directly market to the ‘hard to reach’ communities.