A Critical Analysis of Direct and Digital Marketing

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Critical Analysis of Direct and Digital Marketing

1. Introduction

The emergence of the innovative technologies and the creation of new communication channels have provoked the rise of a new marketing form known as the digital marketing. In fact, digital marketing is the promotion of products and services via the Internet. In fact, the companies were oriented only on the direct marketing in the past. However, the current tendencies of the market presuppose the implementation of digital marketing, as it is the quickest and the most effective way of targeting the customer, increasing profitability, and achieving the competitive advantage. Consequently, the central idea of this research paper is to explore the way digital marketing differs from the direct marketing, the effect on the performance of the company and the ethical issues they can provoke.

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2. Literature Review

The Distinctions and Similarities between Direct and Digital Marketing

Actually, direct marketing represents a targeted and focused communication with a customer to promote the purchase of a service or a good (Thomas 2007). Thomas (2007) states that direct marketing is customized and is based on the relationships with customers. In fact, the direct marketing process is based on a customer analysis, an environmental analysis, and a competitive analysis. According to Ryan (2014), digital marketing is the present and the future of the global market that is driven by the technological advances. Moreover, Ryan (2014) insists that digital marketing is not only about technology, but also about people (marketers) and connecting with people (customers). Digital marketing concentrates on the ways people use innovative technologies (Scott 2011).

Direct and digital marketing has many similarities; therefore, they can be applied simultaneously. First, both kinds of marketing presuppose targeting the customers and achieving the direct response from them (Pearson 2014). Moreover, both direct and digital marketing are strategic and measurable. In fact, the direct and digital marketing are based on the tools that attract the customers and sell the services and products to them (Armstrong & Kotler 2012). Both digital and direct marketing create the message in order to catch the customers’ attention with the help of the advertisement campaign. Moreover, they are hypothetical in nature, as they do not guarantee the acquisition of customers and the achievement of profitability. Digital and direct marketing have different tools for operating but have the same objective (Ogden & Ogden 2014).

The differences between direct and digital marketing are essential. First, digital marketing targets the customers with the help of digital technologies. In contrast, direct marketing influences customers through the face-to-face communication. Second, the main techniques used by digital marketing are search engine marketing, e-commerce marketing, social media marketing, and e-mail direct marketing. However, the tools used by direct marketing are the following: telemarketing, newspaper, billboard, television, direct mail, and radio (Ferrel 2013). Third, digital marketing suggests a wide range of products and services (Qin 2009). Nevertheless, direct marketing provides physical access to products and services. Fourth, digital marketing opens more opportunities for reaching a greater customer audience. However, direct marketing presupposes getting the immediate feedbacks (Abrahams 2015).

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2.2. The Major Techniques and Tools Used for Direct and Digital Marketing

In fact, the tools for direct marketing are diverse: door-to-door contacts, web marketing, TV marketing, mobile marketing, catalogue marketing, personal sale, use of recommendations, public statements, and personal relations with clients. Direct mail involves direct mailing to the concrete customers. Mobile marketing represents the contact between the seller and customer with the help of phones. Web marketing is the instrument with the extended opportunities (evaluation of the product, making purchasing, leaving feedbacks) (Qin 2009). Catalogue marketing is the usage of the catalogue as the establishment of relationships between the customers and the sellers. TV marketing presupposes the acquisition of goods by calling the advertisement (Mihm 2010). Personal sale can be achieved through the consultants, the exhibitions, the seminars, and trade agents. SMS-marketing presupposes sending messages to the customers with the information about the products and services (Jones 2008).

In addition, it is necessary to define the following tools of digital marketing: websites, online direct marketing, online public relations, online sales promotion, online personal selling, and online advertising. Online advertising can come in the following forms: online sponsorships, advertising in chat rooms, URLs, newspaper, and e-mails (Manzoor 2010). Actually, online personal selling can be achieved with the help of video conferencing and virtual exhibition. Online sales promotion can appear in the forms of premiums, contest, sampling, and coupons. In fact, online public relations can be achieved with the help of online community, newsgroups, newsletters, and forums (Armstrong 2009). What concerns online direct marketing, it can come in the forms of home shopping networks, computerized home shopping, and spamming. Finally, websites provide e-commerce, customer service, sales support, and advertising (Ferrell & Hartline 2014).

2.3. The Ways to Measure and Influence Customer Behaviour through Direct and Digital Marketing

Actually, direct and digital marketing use different ways to measure and influence the customer behaviour. Direct marketing can measure customer behaviour through the overall customer feedback (Jobber 2010). Moreover, the company can carry out the surveys on the quality of the product or service. In addition, direct marketing can use radio and TV advertisements to measure customer behaviour (Shimp 2000). In fact, it is necessary to mention that direct marketing can influence customer behaviour with the help of the strong brand image, attractive pictures, and strong message. Moreover, it is evident that the advertisement should not attract the customer with the bright colours but should tell a fascinating story.

Actually, according to Bird (2007), digital marketing measures customer behaviour through the customer social media engagement. Thus, such social media as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram can be also used as the ways of affecting the customer. Another way used by digital marketing is the effectiveness of popular ads that help to determine the level of irritation (Shimp 2008). Moreover, the evaluation of consumer connectivity of mobile applications is the basement for measuring the customer interest to the product and services and the way of influencing them (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick 2012). In addition, it is necessary to mention that digital marketing should reach its customers with the help of referral, commitment, trial, interest, and awareness.

2.4. The Ways of Measuring Performance for Direct and Digital Marketing

In fact, it is possible to measure the performance of direct marketing to understand whether it works in a proper way. First, it is necessary to determine the number of responses through mails and direct feedbacks. Second, the company should define the exact number of customers, who turned in the constant ones. Third, it is obligatory to evaluate the sales and profitability rates, as they represent the main indicators of the success of direct marketing. Direct marketers can also evaluate and analyze expense-to-revenue ratio to understand whether they succeed or lag behind. Thus, it can become the driving force of the improvement of direct marketing in the company (Safko 2012).

According to Chaffey (2007), the careful measurement of performance of digital marketing can also provide future success and efficacy. First of all, it is necessary to use online campaign testing, as it will help to define the gaps in the promotion and the ways to fulfil them. Second, it is obligatory to monitor the frequency of the website attendance, as this will help to determine the number of visitors, who are interested in the company, its products and services (Safko 2012). Third, the number of subscribers in the social networks can also be a measure of the performance of digital marketing. The company should constantly collect and analyze the obtained data to succeed in its performance of digital marketing (Mihm 2010).

2.5. The Major Ethical Issues Associated with Direct and Digital Marketing

In fact, direct marketing presupposes many ethical issues. Consequently, marketing ethics must be present in the company if it wants to succeed (Saxena 2009). Direct marketing can be based on deception and fraud, as there are marketers, who can mislead customers with the quality, design, and price policy of the product or service. For example, direct marketers can exaggerate the retail price, performance claims, and product size (Brenkert 2008). Another ethical issue can represent unfairness, when marketers have more advantages and can manipulate the vulnerable groups of customers (the elder people). Actually, direct marketing presupposes such an ethical dilemma as invasion of privacy, as marketers could possess vast knowledge about the customers and use it against them (Smith & Murphy 2012).

Moreover, digital marketing can provoke a greater number of ethical issues than direct marketing because of indirect selling. First of all, it is the frustration of the customers that is performed by annoyed and irritated customers with the help of overcrowding their inbox with unnecessary advertisement. Second, misleading information is another ethical challenge provoked by digital marketing (Kumar & Dash 2015). The marketers can hide information about the size and the quality of the product or provide incorrect facts that can confuse the customers (Raspin 2007). Third, the privacy issue is also a current problem in digital marketing. In fact, it means that marketers can use customer data without their agreement. Fourth, fraud is the frequent situation in digital marketing, as many false companies take money and do not provide the promised products in return (Baker & Hart 2008).

3. Research Design

The aim of this research paper is to show and analyze the distinctions between direct and digital marketing.

The objectives of this paper are the following:

· to compare the similarities and the differences between direct and digital marketing;

· to evaluate the efficacy of digital and direct marketing strategies of Zara Company.

This research paper is based on the qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative data was obtained from the academic books. The quantitative data was obtained from Zara website and Zara employee. The primary data was collected, while interviewing the employee of Zara. The secondary data was obtained from the reliable sources such as academic books and journals.

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4. Data Collection and Analysis

In this section, the author will examine different digital and direct marketing of Zara Company.

4.1. Zara Company

Zara Company is one of the largest international fashion companies that belong to Inditex. In fact, its unique business model is based on the extensive retail network, distribution and sales, production, and design. The mission of Zara Company is to dress the whole world in unique and stylish designs. Moreover, the vision of the company is to be a number one fashion retailer. The company was founded in 1975 (Zara 2016). Thus, Zara used direct marketing since its inception. However, currently it combines direct marketing with digital one. Zara Company is a Spanish retailer that operates in 78 countries and has 1700 stores. The peculiarity of this company is the fact that it launches approximately 11, 000 new items per year (Zara 2016).

4.2. Direct Marketing of Zara

Actually, Zara Company dedicates much attention to physical presence in the market. Consequently, the opening of stores is one of the ways of the promotion of Zara products. The direct sales mode is one of the ways to target the customer. Moreover, the company applies focus-cost strategy that is the best way to involve a great number of customers. Another strategy of direct marketing that is used by Zara Company is positioning strategy. Even though Zara is a European brand, it has a positive image and a good reputation in developing countries due to its attractive pricing (Zara 2016). The offline marketing strategies help Zara to remain in the constant physical contact with the customers.

4.3. Digital Marketing of Zara

Digital marketing of Zara Company is well-developed, as the company has the website, where it provides the services of online shopping worldwide. Moreover, Zara uses such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Wanelo, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest in order to expand its online presence and reach young population, who is a frequent user of the social networks (Zarrella 2009). Actually, Zara uses digital marketing in order to establish the connection with the customers through the content creation, promotions, emails, and search engine optimization (Zara 2016). Moreover, the company uses such a tool as paid ads on Google to promote its products. Thus, digital marketing allows Zara targeting the right young people instead of reaching a broad audience. In addition, Zara has mobile applications to promote the coupons that can be used both online and in-store.

4.4. The Ways to Measure and Influence Customer Behavior through Direct and Digital Marketing Used by Zara

Zara uses customer feedbacks, evaluation marks, and responses to measure customer behaviour through direct marketing. Moreover, it influences its customers through the high quality of the products, suitable positioning and pricing strategies. Furthermore, the advertisement strategy of Zara is bright and responds to the needs of the customers. In digital marketing, Zara applies Google analytics, Google adwords, and SEO (Ton, Corsi & Dessain 2010). In fact, such ways help to establish the demographics of Zara customers worldwide. Moreover, the company ranks the customers throughout the search engines. Zara influences its consumer behaviour through all the possible social platforms that unite people, who are interested in the stylish look and fashion.

4.5. Ethical Issues of Zara in Direct and Digital Marketing

The direct marketing provided Zara with such ethical issues as the lack of correspondence of product price and the quality and the fraud of the products. In fact, some Zara employees can violate marketing ethics because of the low wage. Thus, the company should improve its policy to preserve the positive corporate image (Reed 2013). The invasion of privacy is another issue of direct marketing in Zara that can be exercised by the employees, who collaborate with the competitors. What concerns digital marketing, the ethical challenges of Zara refer to over spamming via e-mail and regular mails. Actually, it means that the company should promote its items but should not provoke customer irritation (Smith & Murphy 2012). The customers, who buy online, can deal with the problem of misleading, when the website provides false information about the size and the quality of the product.

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In conclusion, it is necessary to say that both direct and digital marketing benefit the development and the growth of the company. Actually, Zara Company is the example of a successful combination of digital and direct tools of the brand promotion. The effective application of direct marketing is the basis for targeting a large number of customers and increase in profitability. In fact, the implementation of digital marketing reinforces brand awareness and creates the image of the company in the market. The usage of a single type of marketing will be less effective, as digital and direct marketing have their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, such company as Zara should avoid ethical issues, as they are harmful to the corporate responsibility.


Zara Company should look for the new opportunities in direct and digital marketing. However, it is evident that digital marketing can provide more opportunities. Actually, it should rely on the mobile applications as most customers use the innovative devices very frequently. Moreover, the customers should be provided with the instant access to services and products. Moreover, Zara Company should constantly maintain and develop its website, as it represents a connection with the customer. Furthermore, it is obligatory to improve the quality of customer call centres that can provide customers with all the necessary information. In fact, the ethical issues are unacceptable. Thus, the company should reinforce a positive moral image.

Limitations of Research

The limitation of this research represents the lack of the objective information from the employees and the customers of Zara. However, this restriction can be the foundation for further investigation of the efficacy of direct and digital marketing. Moreover, this research is focused more on the qualitative data. However, the involvement of quantitative data could provide a more objective picture.

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