Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Digital marketing: revolutionary or evolutionary?

DM used to stand for Direct Marketing – the antiquated art of using computers to communicate with large numbers of people. Now DM stands for Digital Marketing – the new way of using computers to communicate with large numbers of people. In the “old days” of course there was no internet, no mobile phones, no Twitter or Facebook. Much has changed, but equally much has stayed the same. When Direct Marketing was popular, mail that wasn’t of interest to the recipient was called “junk mail” - now it's called Spam - but it’s pretty much the same thing.

Despite the rapid changes in technology, people are still people and they still like to receive things that interest them, and they don’t like to receive things that aren’t relevant.

So wandering round Internet World yesterday I was struck by how much of the old world has followed the new world. Direct Marketers have morphed into Digital Marketers, and their message is still as relevant - all that has changed is the way they choose to communicate with their customers.

What made direct marketing so powerful was its ability to get a response from customers and prospects. Unlike advertising which is one-way, direct marketers constantly worked to get feedback from customers (usually in the form of a cheque) as to what they wanted. Digital marketing may be more subtle, but it has the same benefits of getting a response.

Digital marketing is revolutionary, and the possibilities offered by technology are wonderful – both from the point of view of purchasers and sellers. But perhaps the biggest difference is that digital marketing is available to businesses large and small. All you need is a computer and a willingness to learn. And that's what events like Internet World offer - the chance to mix and mingle and learn.


  1. Hi Caroline,

    Interesting post. I think the big change in DM has been the increased ability to know how people treated your direct marketing approach to them.

    Direct Marketers used to mail you (i.e. via Royal Mail) and they knew two things. a) How many people sent a cheque or responded in some way. b) How many people didn't.

    But now, the Digital Marketer can learn so much more about how their approach was treated than just those two aspects mentioned above. They will know whether the email got through, whether you opened, deleted or forwarded it. They will know if you clicked on a link and which pages you visited after landing on their site.

    For me, that is the big change. Data and lots of it.

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