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Direct marketing activities are marketing activities that work to elicit a direct response from an individual recipient. Although direct marketing activities may take place through email, SMS short text messaging or other digital means, the original term is based on using the postal system, which is how most traditional direct mail works.
The idea of direct marketing is that the company is eliminating the middleman and marketing directly to individual customers. Some definitions of direct marketing talk about using it instead of retailing, where direct marketing may facilitate some sort of wholesaling endeavor.
Another characteristic feature of direct marketing is that it provides measurable return on investment or results. Most of these programs involve tracking of customer response, for instance, to help companies know whether a given customer used a provided coupon, or responded to a direct mail message. These quantitative programs can help develop sophisticated business intelligence, while also working efficiently to sell to individual customers.