The Explosion of Marketing Channels: The Past 10 Years of Direct Marketing Part 3

Marketing channels converge and diverge.

U.S. direct marketing sales held pretty steady from 2002 to 2012, per data from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

[Editor’s Note: This is the third article in an eight-part, weekly series.]
Do you remember when fax marketing was a growing discipline? Neither do I. But there it is in red and blue in the graphic on Page 50 of Target Marketing magazine. That wasn’t that long ago—March 2007—and chances are you haven’t even looked at a fax machine during the past 24 hours. Or maybe even the past week, or month.

So it goes to show you just how much direct marketing channels have changed during the past 10 years. This article will drill down into what’s new in the channels and look at many of the new forms of marketing emerging from them.

First, let’s look back a bit:

Picking up the hefty 204-page October 2003 issue of Target Marketing magazine alone illustrates how valuable print was just 10 years ago—especially measured against the 60-page issue in October 2012. Looking inside the veritable time machine of the 2003 print issue, a couple things are clear:

1. Channels themselves haven’t really changed, but how marketers are using them sure has; and

2. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Changing Channels
Consumers use a lot of channels now, and sometimes use them interchangeably during just one transaction. So, yes, print marketing shrank since 2003 and Internet marketing exploded. But take a closer look.

  • Print marketing is broken down in the “DMA 2013 Statistical Fact Book” into several categories—direct mail, catalog; direct mail, non-catalog; insert media; direct response, magazine; and direct response, newspaper.
  • But so is Internet marketing—display, “other,” search and social. A lot of marketers break search and social out as their own categories. I would argue that email and some aspects of mobile belong under the “Internet” umbrella, but then I’d end up sounding like the new marketers who want to lump all of mobile in, call the whole thing “digital marketing” and insist it’s nothing like direct marketing. Before you write letters: Yes, I know better.

So my point here is, direct marketing still uses basic channels, it’s just the investment in them and the options available within them that’s changing.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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