Direct marketing

Also known as: Direct marketing, direct response advertising

The term direct marketing describes those advertising activities that are essentially aimed at addressing potential customers directly. The aim is to achieve and measure a specific reaction from the target group and, based on this, to establish a long-term customer relationship.

Definition / explanation

Direct marketing therefore describes the entirety of all measures that are intended to arouse the interest of consumers in the manufacturer or service provider without detours via retail and wholesale.

In addition to addressing the target group individually, the specialty of direct marketing is its further processing after the initial contact. A response from the potential consumer to the selected measure represents an immediate measurement of success.

In the further course of building a customer relationship, further individualized direct marketing instruments can be used and further data can be measured and collected. In this way, the advertising company receives a comprehensive picture of its customers (interests, preferences, socio-economic data and much more).

Subareas of direct marketing

Direct marketing can be divided into three sub-areas:

Direct mail - Direct advertising includes the media approach (e.g. advertising letters, brochures, e-mails) which are delivered directly, e.g. selected by region.

Direct response marketing - Another area is direct response marketing. The instruments of direct advertising are upgraded, which enables the customer to respond (for example through coupons, inserts, order cards, recall campaigns or mailings). The customer relationship can thus be strengthened in further steps.

Database Marketing - The third sub-area is database marketing: It describes measures that are necessary to set up and maintain customer databases in order to prepare the following personalized approaches. Companies get to know their customers better and better through this area.


An immediate sale is not in the foreground in direct marketing, rather the measures are designed to build long-term customer loyalty. The further this progresses, the more knowledge the company advertising in the form builds up about the characteristics of its customers. Starting from this, it is able to adapt its products or services individually to you.

advantages and disadvantages

The predominant advantages consist in the following points:

  • the success of the marketing activities can be measured directly (e.g. number of replies to a direct mailing)
  • the wastage, for example in contrast to television advertising, can be reduced through targeted selection and addressing, which increases the efficiency of the marketing budget
  • companies can retain customers more effectively

The following points are seen as a disadvantage:

  • direct marketing has a bad rap
  • some customers find the marketing measures disruptive or too intrusive
  • This can negatively affect the company's image


  • Direct marketing is the targeted, measurable addressing of the public without detours
  • Direct marketing is used to build long customer relationships
  • Direct marketing makes it possible to collect information about customers
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