Difference Between Direct Marketing and Indirect Marketing

Direct Marketing vs Indirect Marketing

The difference between direct marketing and indirect marketing needs some serious analysis for it to be understood. Both direct marketing and indirect marketing originates from marketing communication methods or promotion. Communications between the customer and the seller is an important part of marketing. Without proper communication, misunderstanding will grow between the two parties of sale that can lead to chaos in the marketplace. Initially, we will see the basics of these two terms, direct marketing and indirect marketing and after that will differentiate the two for deeper understanding.

What is Direct Marketing?

Direct marketing can be classified as direct communication with carefully targeted individual customers to obtain an immediate response and for creating long term relationships. In simple terms, direct marketing is the method of ‘directly’ reaching out to customers. It is an aggressive form of convincing the customers for sales to happen. Examples of direct marketing are telephone marketing, direct mailers, direct response marketing television (DRTV), and online shopping.

Direct marketing is a selective promotional method aimed at potential customer segments and is not intended for mass communication such as advertising. Also, the effectiveness of direct marketing can be measured with the sales call returned, which is not possible in mass communication methods. But, for direct marketing to be effective customer agents should be well informed about the product that is promoted. They should assist the customers and translate calls into sales. Some customers may attribute direct marketing with junk or spam that is on the rise especially with unsolicited e-mail campaigns. But, what they should understand is, if it is not targeted to the appropriate segments or interested clients, it cannot be labeled as direct marketing. Social networks and web tools such as retargeting are few important tools for direct marketing purpose at present times. With the user browsing pattern, selective adverts are shown to them when they roam through their facebook account that is a good example for direct marketing. Direct marketing can provide individual customer-centric data and preferences that are necessary for a good customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Difference Between Direct Marketing and Indirect Marketing

What is Indirect Marketing?

If there is no direct communication between the customer and the seller, it can be classified as indirect marketing. This method is mass-media oriented, where the audience is high in numbers. Also, it is targeted and appeals to a wide array of customer segments. Indirect marketing is usually successful as reminders for customers about the product or service when customers are already customers of the product or service. Notable example of indirect marketing is advertising,

When customers are aware of the product and only require to be reminded about the product, indirect marketing will be the ideal tool for communication. Indirect marketing is non-targeted and same for all viewers as it does not consider different customer segments. So, it is termed as generic in nature. In indirect marketing, the promoter will not be able to record the immediate response of the audience. If promoter needs to evaluate the effectiveness of indirect marketing program, they need to conduct questionnaires to record responses. So, it is not easy to identify the viewer reaction towards indirect marketing tools.

 Direct Marketing vs Indirect Marketing

What is the difference between Direct Marketing and Indirect Marketing?

Both, direct marketing and indirect marketing are communication methods towards customers. But, they differ on few key factors.

• Purpose:

• Direct marketing is aimed at selective customer segments and the purpose of it is to persuade customers for purchase. As direct communication is possible, the marketer has the ability to convince or be aggressive in their persuasion.

• The purpose of indirect marketing is to remind of the product that, customers are already aware of. It is to induce brand recognition . For mass market products such as toiletry soap, this repetitive communication mode is important and serves the purpose.

• Response:

• With direct marketing, the promoter has the ability to record immediate response from the audience as it is targeted and selective. (One on one direct communication)

• In indirect marketing, the ability to record immediate response is not available as its mass-media oriented. (One to all communication)

• Cost:

• Direct marketing involves less cost. It utilizes tools such as internet, e-mails, post, and personal interaction that are cheap compared to conventional modes of advertising such as television or print media.

• Indirect marketing uses mass media such as television and print media to carry out their messages which, is costlier than other promotional methods.

• Target Audience:

• Direct marketing has a selected, well-targeted group of customers for their promotions. Without proper analysis of target audience, direct marketing can be a disastrous effort to the promoter.

• Indirect marketing is mass-media oriented. Therefore, does not have a traceable target audience in most instances.

Though, both direct marketing and indirect marketing are communication tools to inform about a product to the customer, the delivery process and selection of customers lead to the differences between them. Further detailing reveals that the purpose, response, cost, and target audience differ considerably between the two.



  1. Iram, S., Shusma, K. and Ebag, B. (2010), Defining Indirect Marketing., European Journal of Economics, Finance & Administrative Sciences; June, Issue 21, p35


Images Courtesy:

  1. Advertising mail by Dvortygirl (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Advertising signs in Piccadilly Circus by GeographBot (CC BY-SA 2.0)