Why direct digital marketing matters

Direct digital marketing is as simple as it is important. The concept is based on a proven marketing principle -- addressability. While traditional direct marketing uses a postal address to communicate relevant information to a consumer, direct digital marketing delivers targeted communications to individual consumers through the three primary digital channels -- email, web, and mobile -- using an email address, a web browser cookie, and a mobile phone number.

The definition of direct digital marketing makes sense. It is a natural fusion of everything effective about direct marketing (relevant and timely messages) and everything effective about digital marketing (improved relevance and timing plus optimization and instant accountability). The reason direct digital marketing is becoming such a widely adopted marketing discipline is because of how marketing is evolving, from the Fortune 500 companies right down to the small mom and pop shops.

Traditional marketing is not necessarily dying; the standard marketing channels of television, radio, and print are still useful. However, the extremely high cost and inability to effectively measure the success of traditional marketing campaigns is leading to a budget exodus to direct digital marketing. For some, traditional marketing is simply too expensive to be effective, and an untenable element of any long-term marketing plan.

Marketing is a broad discipline. While objectives largely remain the same no matter what industry a marketer is plying their trade in (i.e., sell more stuff), part of direct digital marketing's value is in its adaptability. Whether a company's target audience is consumers or another business, direct digital marketing is applicable and effective.

Benefits for B2C marketers
While multi-channel delivery of targeted messages to individual consumers is an obvious benefit of direct digital marketing, superb data management is the foundation. Web analytics providers give marketers the tools necessary to analyze the massive amounts of data captured both online and offline, but they are historically poor at turning the data into actionable marketing campaigns. A good direct digital marketing partner uses a data mart dedicated to direct digital marketing, or a universal profile management system. Combining captured online behavioral data with enterprise customer data, for example, provides the marketer with unique opportunities for message targeting and segmentation that are not available with traditional marketing.

A smart approach to data creates a single view of an individual consumer and allows for more effective, targeted, and relevant communications through each primary digital channel the consumer already uses to engage with a brand.

While multi-channel delivery, message relevance, and campaign execution are easy with direct digital marketing, testing and optimization are also built-in requirements. Optimization with traditional direct marketing is better classified as trial and error -- expensive trial and error. With direct digital marketing optimization is essential, instant, and easy.

Benefits for B2B marketers
Business-to-business marketers perpetually encounter an endemic marketing challenge in the disconnect between marketing and sales. Direct digital marketing's multi-channel scope helps to expedites sales cycles by skipping formerly mandatory qualification steps. Lead quality is also substantially increased because a prospect's areas of interest are self-evident when reviewing email click-throughs, website click paths, and page view data in one environment. When prospect need is demonstrated before contact with the sales staff even begins, a more meaningful engagement occurs.

For decades marketers have loosely justified campaign investment with circumstantial and qualitative data. However, as marketing evolves from direct to direct digital methods, an increased importance is placed on the scientific aspects of marketing. A common trait for both B2C and B2B marketers is the need for immediate accountability. Addressability through the primary digital channels easily translates to accountability in direct digital marketing campaign reporting and measurement, regardless of industry.

Direct digital marketing is accountable to more than the mandatory -- yet occasionally arbitrary -- metrics like clicks, opens, page views, and coupon redemption. It is accountable to any return on investment questions by easily measuring specific conversion events, revenue per site visit, and lift in other key categories.

Direct digital marketing is more cost efficient than traditional methods not only for its immediate accountability but because of the reduced time investment. Instead of coordinating multiple partnerships each with specialized channel delivery capabilities, a single direct digital marketing partner frees marketers up to develop sound strategies instead of focusing on on multi-channel, multi-partner campaign execution. It is also less complex than traditional channels in terms of campaign setup, execution, and measurement -- regardless of how many channels are included in a campaign.

For too many years marketers have battled unnecessary tradeoffs. Budget exists for email, but not for mobile. Or mobile is a priority but website targeting capabilities must go by the wayside. Well-executed direct digital marketing prevents these tradeoffs, improves results, and is accountable for its effectiveness. While it is unwise to forsake any useful traditional marketing strategies, failure to adopt direct digital marketing prevents the type of scalable, accountable marketing that is the hallmark of a successful company.

Brian Deagan is the co-founder and CEO of Knotice.

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Comments

Kristina Allen
Kristina Allen March 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Nice article Brian! You hit the nail on the head by saying direct digital marketing is accountable for more than just clicks, opens, page views, etc. For so long online marketers focused on getting the click, but what really matters comes post-click: the conversion!

As marketers become more experienced in conversion rate optimization, the unnecessary tradeoffs you wrote about will decrease even further, as the importance of (and emphasis on) digital marketing becomes more pronounced.