With the advent of the Internet, many companies have altered their direct marketing initiatives. In the past, companies relied on mailers, phone calls and door-to-door sales to market a product, service or idea.
Nowadays, however, many companies use the Internet to communicate with potential customers through electronic marketing. For example, when I enter a Web site, a sophisticated profiling application gives companies the ability to determine my demographic and subsequently serve a banner that is likely to appeal to me.
Some companies have found great success marketing themselves through targeted banner ads. However, companies that have abandoned their traditional direct marketing initiatives to focus solely on online marketing are making a mistake. The best recipe for success includes a combination of online and offline direct marketing.
What could possibly be easier than opening an e-mail message from your favorite store, linking directly to its Web site and purchasing what you want online? Online marketing offers customers instant access to company Web sites and promotional information. When consumers receive popular forms of online marketing materials such as online newsletters and other forms of direct e-mail, it allows them to easily link to the Web site of interest. By providing an easy way for customers to find information, companies encourage the consumer to investigate different Web sites.
Though online businesses have witnessed growth through their online marketing efforts, direct mail marketing will remain at the core of the direct marketing industry. One problem of online marketing is that once you turn off your computer, the promotion disappears, while direct mail marketing allows consumers to hold on to the material. With physical marketing material available, the customer becomes more likely to remember the promotion.
Whereas online marketing tends to entice more of the impulse shopper, offline marketing continues to interest all shoppers and does not rely upon electronic means. This is especially important for brick-and-mortar stores that depend on customers to bring their promotional coupons into the stores. Brick-and-mortar customers are more likely to hold on to a promotional piece that they receive in the mail rather than print out an online coupon. These consumers also are much more likely to remember a company that provides them tangible promotional material, such as hard print coupons or catalogs.
As the personal computer has revolutionized the way people communicate, marketers have had to adapt. Today, it is not uncommon for a consumer to view 75 banner advertisements in a 30 minutes. It also has become the norm to receive newsletters and other advertisements through e-mail. The power of direct marketing online lies in the ability to customize consumer preferences. Companies may create unique profiles for individual consumers so that they only receive material on promotions in which they have expressed an interest. The efficiency of this form of marketing is almost breathtaking. Customers do not even need to know that they are building a profile.
Web sites may track spending habits and direct tailored e-mails to those who have signed up for promotional newsletters. Companies may also direct customers to promotions deep within a Web site or to promotions that may change daily. The dynamic ability of online marketing allows companies much more flexibility than in traditional media. The marriage of traditional media forms with brand recognition and familiarity to consumers with the potential of online marketing is the goal that direct marketers should aim to achieve.
The consumer base communicating via e-mail is expanding every day; however, the information overload via e-mail is increasing every day as well. One must keep the quality of the direct marketing high in order to pique the customers’ interest in every mailing, while maintaining an offline presence to run a successful direct marketing campaign in today’s economy. With more and more direct marketing campaigns running solely online, the consumer is being more and more overwhelmed with information that he does not need, does not want and does not use. The most successful campaigns will be the most useful to consumers, offering them the promotions they are looking for without overpowering them.
New media have presented a challenge for many marketers, yet it is a platform that cannot be ignored, as more consumers log on to the Internet every day.