Direct marketing and the online copywriter…

 … a match made in heaven

How does direct marketing drive online copywriter success? In all sorts of ways.

Once as common as muck, now a shiny tool in the online copywriter box

Pre-internet, direct marketing was the poor relation of brand marketing and advertising. Considered slightly grubby and common, DM sat ‘below the line’ in the figurative basement, whereas expensive TV and media ads enjoyed the bright limelight ‘above the line’. I have no idea who coined the phrases but as a direct marketer and online copywriter, I found it irritatingly snobbish.
That’s just one reason why I was so chuffed when the digital marketing industry finally ‘discovered’ direct marketing and started adopting it as its own. About time, too.

Addressing punters personally

Direct marketing addresses people by name. Whereas brand marketing addresses entire target markets impersonally, with no segmentation or targeting.

Asking people to do something

By definition, direct marketing always  includes a call to action, asking people to respond in some way whether it’s to buy straight away, ask for more information, move to the next stage along the sales funnel or hand over useful data.
Brand ads don’t ask for anything in particular. They just put the product or service in front of people – in a highly creative way – and hope some of them react positively through fuzzy, un-pin-downable ’emotional awareness’ and ‘engagement’.

Knowing exactly how your campaigns work

Direct marketing is trackable and measurable. If I send out a DM campaign I know exactly how many people responded to which messages, when, how, and how much ROI each individual generated.
Brand marketers don’t usually have a clue about how their efforts perform. If they’re lucky they might notice an overall increase in sales, but it isn’t attributable. The insight they can gather about the effectiveness of their work is severely limited.

An example of DM’s effectiveness versus brand advertising

In the late ’80s I worked with a large household name insurer. They had a number of high profile, blue chip corporate clients, including Barclay’s Bank. I helped create a direct mail campaign to seven million of the bank’s customers. The campaign was split into around fifty segments, each of which received a slightly different creative treatment depending on their demographics, buying history and financial circumstances.
Every mail piece was laser coded so we could track responses with pinpoint accuracy. As a result of our intricate segmentation and targeting, we were able to identify the best performing segments and creative approaches and, over the next couple of years, hone the campaign until it performed optimally. It made an absolute fortune, all of which was 100% attributable.
In contrast, take a car advert. Any car advert. It looks stunning. The soundtrack is epic. It’s aspirational and emotional, a little piece of creative perfection with an impressive price tag. But there’s absolutely no way of knowing whether it works in terms of people actually putting their hands in their pockets and buying. It’s impossible to know whether people even like it. Even if the people who see it act immediately, running down the road to the nearest dealership waving their credit cards, the marketers who created the ad won’t know a thing about it.
I know which I’d prefer to spend my marketing budget on.

How does direct marketing apply to content marketing?

By nature, content marketing is direct marketing, because you’re trying to elicit a specific response, whether it’s a reaction to your latest piece of web copywriting in the form of a re-Tweet or Facebook share, a back link, a mention, a recommendation or whatever.
Most digital marketers these days make damn sure they can track back responses to campaigns and to individuals. That way they can tell which creative approaches work best. And it mean they can add responsive individuals’ contact details to inbound marketing initiatives, gradually nudging them along the sales funnel ’til they crack and buy.

What about social media marketing and DM?

SMM is also a classic direct marketing opportunity. Every tweet you make, every time you add something to your Facebook page, you are trying to get someone to respond by passing on your creations or otherwise engaging with you.

Web content with a direct marketing-strengthened spine

The best web content writers have a strong direct marketing streak. If you want a freelance business writing expert who knows their direct marketing stuff, walk this way. I’ll be delighted to help make your business shine.

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