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Study Notes

Direct Marketing

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Direct marketing is a catch-all term that describes a range of promotional activities that are aimed directly at the customer, so bringing the promotional message straight to the target audience.

Direct mail, telemarketing and email marketing can all be useful methods of targeting the kind of customer who is likely to buy from the business. However, each of them requires careful preparation and consideration towards the audience, and knowledge of how to manage customer data efficiently and within the boundaries of the law.

Direct mail

This involves sending promotional materials to target customers through the post. Direct mail can be a relatively low-cost exercise with specific customers targeted. It is also easy to evaluate the successes or failure of each campaign by looking at response rates. However, the negative perception by recipients that direct mail 'junk mail' is becoming more common.

Email marketing

Use of email for direct marketing has grown rapidly. It is a very cheap and quick method of promotion which allows the message to encourage an instant response. For example, viral marketing is a good idea to get customers to recommend a friend and increase the size of customer database in return for a reward (discount etc).

However, there are many problems with email marketing. Not the least is that the use of spam filters on many email systems makes it harder for legitimate email marketing materials to reach the intended recipient.

Email marketing must only be sent to those who have opted into received such promotion. However, many businesses continue to flout this golden rule, contributing to the substantial volume of email spam.


Telemarketing encompasses all telephone-based marketing activity including sales, customer services and market research. It's useful for following up business-to-business leads, setting up meetings or even closing a deal.

Telemarketing is sometime used as an alternative (or addition) to personal selling. It is relatively low-cost, particularly compared to the costs of keeping a full-time sales force on the road. It is also easy to monitor and can be outsourced for a fee.

The big downside to telemarketing is that cold calling has a very negative perception, especially in the consumer sector.

Direct marketing has the following advantages and disadvantages:

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