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Content or Direct Marketing Services: Which Channel Reaches Your Audience?

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FM Engage

The approach to marketing has evolved since its entrance into the digital age years ago. The digital space includes a variety of marketing channels to choose from, but direct marketing and content marketing are two of the most prominent and all-encompassing. Depending on whether you choose to use a direct or indirect method of marketing, the intent and data behind your campaign may drastically shift.

The Strength of Direct Marketing

Because digital marketing has grown so much, many marketers opt for digital-only rather than a full-spectrum marketing approach. However, direct marketing is popular among insurance marketers because of the personal nature of direct advertising. You can use research and analytics to identify key customers for your campaign rather than just targeting everyone who sees your content.

The Flexibility of Direct Marketing Channels

Direct marketing requires a well-planned marketing campaign based on ideal customer frameworks. The message behind the campaign can then be tailored to help build relationships with the customers, test the appeal of your product or service, tell you which marketing approach will reach the target market, and provide customers with compelling content.

A direct marketing campaign can be accomplished through multiple marketing channels, including:

  • Face-to-face sales
  • Direct mail and direct email
  • Magazine marketing
  • Telemarketing
  • TV and other direct response media
  • Flyers
  • Digital advertisements

The most common and well-known method is direct mail. Direct mail is posted mail that advertises your business and its products and services, either through catalogs, postcards, personalized documents, or other print forms.

Direct campaigns have developed a new face with the increasing prevalence of digital marketing: email and social media marketing. Both are accessible for consumers, provide immediate access to data, and get in front of the prospects easier—as long as you don’t end up in the spam folder.

Direct marketing tends to be more successful when you integrate digital marketing for a few of reasons:

  1. The integration of digital and direct mail allows for multiple touchpoints in one larger campaign.
  2. Digital marketing is much more saturated than it once was, and direct mail allows consumers to have tangible material in their hands to read and review (and keep as long as they want).
  3. Digital direct marketing can be a testing ground that helps inform creative content and determine the best audience for your direct mail campaign.

What Direct Marketing Typically Looks Like

Direct marketing channels reach out to individuals through personalized messaging. If you’ve ever been in a car accident and had flyers in the mail over the next few days from local insurance agencies or lawyers, you’ve been the recipient of a direct marketing campaign.

Better yet, if you recently looked up new shoes just to browse and subsequently received ads and emails about shoe deals for the next few weeks, you were targeted by a direct marketing campaign.

The personalized messaging that leads to direct marketing’s success is supported by the brand’s understanding and research of the audience’s willingness or ability to buy a product or service. The better relationship you have with your prospects, the more personalized you can make campaigns. Understanding your target persona on a deep level gives you heavy personalization, as well as campaigns that work to upsell to current consumers rather than marketing to brand new prospects.

What Does a Direct Marketing Campaign Need to Succeed?

A direct campaign is only as effective as the research behind it. You’re attempting to draw in people who connect with a specific product or service, so you need to have the research to back up your targeting with a targeting channel framework. If you don’t know what type of shoes the audience is looking for, then sending them random running shoe advertising could cause your campaign to perform poorly and waste a lot of time and money.

For digital direct marketing, you need to be more focused and systematic, and choose one or two channels that are going to see the greatest results with your audience.

A targeting channel framework is composed of four major steps, which include:

  1. Analysis of Target Audience – Our data scientists are constantly retrieving and utilizing information to better understand and analyze a target audience. The more you can understand an audience, the better you know how to create direct marketing campaigns for them. This process includes:
    1. Purchase history
    1. Life events
    1. Demographics
    1. Online channel preferences
  2. Competitor Benchmark – The best way to get an idea of where you stand in the industry is to look at what your competitors are doing. Where do they excel, and where do they fall behind? Look at their activity across different social channels, and compare it with the time and investment they dedicate to those platforms.
  3. Platform Comparison – Compare all social platforms in terms of audience attention and competitor focus. Home in on areas where audience attention is high and competitor focus is low, or as close as you can get to this scenario.
  4. Repetition: Finally, repeat the first three steps over time, month after month, to gain a robust performance analysis on shifts and trends in your target audience and competitor marketing activities.

Make sure you don’t reuse the same list repeatedly. Instead, learn from the reactions you get from the list you use in your first campaign, analyze results, and adjust the list accordingly for the subsequent campaigns. This will save you time and money and help get a higher ROI on direct marketing campaigns.

Content That Creates Customer Loyalty

Where a direct marketing channel seeks to solicit a sale or advertisement, a content marketing channel places assets and content of value in front of customers before the sale takes place.

Content marketing offers value to people through free, beneficial content that slowly increases the customer’s brand loyalty on their own terms. Everyone loves valuable things with no strings attached. When it works, it feels genuine. It allows consumers to connect with companies as people rather than corporations, which builds customer loyalty and retention.

All content should tell a story that serves the reader. It should make action irresistible without readers feeling like they are just reading advertisements for your brand. People need to believe your brand can solve a problem or pain point for them. Find the “why” behind the “how” of your company. Why do you do what you do the way that you do it?

If you aim to help people and their families afford healthcare, why do you do it? Maybe it’s because you know how many people are unable to afford healthcare and how that affects them and their families. Or if you sell shoes, maybe you want to offer better products for people who perform physical activity to help them better their craft.

Find those deep-seated beliefs about how the world works, and then call out the pain points your prospects may have. Once you’ve addressed those pain points, you can give them a solution: your product or service. This formula can work in any type of content, whether it’s an ad that will be more sales-focused or an informative article meant to add value.

Types of Content Marketing

Digital marketing gives us the opportunity to provide valuable content in many different ways. This means consumers have choices on where they can consume that value.

Some types of content marketing are:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Emails
  • Ebooks, whitepapers, and other lead magnets
  • Social media posts
  • Webinars

This content can exist virtually anywhere on the web, including your website and social media pages and involves anywhere that brings customers to you. Whatever format you choose, you need to provide information or entertainment in support of a business goal. It should not try to openly sell or promote your business except in calls-to-action you may include in the post that should be formatted in a way that continues to provide value rather than sell.

Differences Between Direct and Indirect Marketing

The main difference between direct marketing and content marketing is the intended purpose. Direct marketing isn’t about delivering value over time, but instead delivers an offer to a list of people who meet certain research-based standards on the assumption that these people will be receptive to the service or product being offered. Ideally, the customer already knows about you and fits into your campaign parameters. Then, all you need to do is reach out with your offering of insurance or shoes, and you’ve got a sale.

On the other hand, content marketing is about developing a relationship with potential customers, so your company can serve their needs in the future. It delivers research, data, resources, and tools freely to give potential customers value that they will associate positively with the brand.

Taking the Direct Approach

If you’ve done the research—or have experts who can do the research for you—and have a focused target audience, direct marketing is a great tool.

With FM Engage as your insurance marketing partner, you will always have the expert data and direction to maximize the ROI of your campaign. When data scientists and over 50 years of experience combine, your marketing will drive real results. For data that directs, partner with FM Engage today.

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