Direct Versus Indirect Marketing: Unlock The Key To Approaching Customers

Direct vs Indirect Marketing is sort of a dilemma that hasn't been figured out to date. If you're looking to truly scale your business through a combination of next level Direct + Indirect Marketing strategies, here's what you need to do.

direct vs indirect marketing whats the difference

You may have heard about Direct versus indirect marketing before.

Even if you didn’t know what the “term” entails, already, there’s a high chance that you have been using multiples of direct marketing versus indirect marketing strategies before.

Although we created this post from an introductory point of view, as in, highlighting a bunch of different examples from both quanta is illustrated down here, there’s still a whole lot to this style of marketing than whatever meets the eye these days.

Because technology has already advanced way too much by now, the usual approach and the conventional norms of direct versus indirect marketing are no longer the same. On the surface, both verticals are easy to understand, but the strategies are quite different.

For instance, if you are looking to scale your business through direct marketing, sending emails to customers seems to be an effective strategy. Given that it’s, of course, an active email list with contacts that your business is in touch with, email marketing helps to generate a substantial amount of revenue on the side.

Likewise, a rough example of indirect marketing would be allowing 3rd party customers to engage with you through a referring source, social media influencer campaign, or an online blog.

This is the type of marketing where customers’ interaction with you isn’t happening on first contact. Usually, there’s some sort of bottom-up hierarchy where leads are converted after interacting with something else and then moving on to your online sales page/ service page for conversion.

Anyhow, we’ll talk about direct versus indirect marketing from a very detailed perspective.

Let’s go, and see what it’s all about.

What Is Direct Marketing?

If you haven’t read our previous ‘Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing’ post already, you should set aside a good hour and a half to take a deep dive into everything there is to direct marketing.

From a very basic definition point of view, direct marketing is your classic, or should we say good ol’ marketing strategy, where customers are directly impacted. Think about sales ads, infomercials, TV spots, online ads, email blasts – so on and so forth. All of these examples are related to direct marketing.

In a way, you are looking to find customers; “luring” them in through an effective sales pitch, and then converting them in the shortest possible duration.

What Are Some of the General Advantages of Direct Marketing?

  • It is easier to segment your audience in direct marketing.

Therefore, it’s relatively easy for marketers to connect with people who are more than likely to be interested in the product, and convert them accordingly.

  • Regardless of whether it’s about direct versus indirect marketing, knowing your audience is like winning half the battle.

Use data segments gathered from email marketing, and other campaigns to divide your audience. Afterward, send these people custom messages and lead conversion messages to create a successful & long-lasting buyer persona.

  • All the data aggregated from direct marketing is easy to measure.

While you’re out there falling back on previous quarters’ metrics, and hypothesizing direct marketing sales projects in near future, make sure to identify pain points to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Having said that, if you are over-aggressive with your direct marketing strategies, they will backfire. The same concept applies to indirect marketing too. Experts recommend adopting the PMA approach – as in, having a Positive Middle Attitude to achieve long-term business & real-life success.

What Is Indirect Marketing?

Moving on with our direct versus indirect marketing dilemma, let’s talk about the latter from a very basic definition perspective.

Indirect marketing is the type of marketing where you are not directly engaging your customers. A simple example of indirect marketing would be promoting products through blog posts. The readers aren’t primarily looking to buy the product; maybe they are interested in reading a product review and then making a purchase decision.

The idea behind this type of marketing is to focus on & nurture relationships with customers. This way, brands are able to build authority, and profits start to trickle in after some time. Indirect marketing works best when it is combined with direct marketing strategies.

The good thing is that you can use both. However, proper execution matters a lot before diving down into anything specific regarding online marketing spectrums.

What Are Some of the General Advantages of Indirect Marketing?

  • You are able to build relationships with your customers. These relationships last a lifetime from a brand authority perspective. Clothing brands are a nice example of businesses banking on indirect marketing.
  • It is a long-term strategy where efforts continue to reward for years to come.
  • Overall, indirect marketing is considered less expensive as compared to direct marketing competition.

Just like direct marketing, indirect marketing also has its own setbacks. We won’t get into a lot of details, as it will derail us from the topic, but you should know that this form of marketing is a little difficult to track. Since you are casting a wider net, it’s a little complicated to set up Analytics’ tracking through Google, Instagram, Facebook, or whichever platform you’re using.

What Are The Best Example of Direct Marketing?

Let’s take a look at some of our all-time favorite examples of direct marketing from an online and offline perspective.

1. Paid Ads

Paid advertisements have always been the bread and butter of direct marketing.

This strategy has been there long before the term: “Direct marketing” was invented. So, you can bet your dimes on paid ads to bring in referrals to your real life or online business.

2. Email Marketing

Email marketing is another example of direct marketing where there are plenty of opportunities to convert customers immediately.

Of course, that’s only possible if the conversion funnel is optimized before those emails are sent, and you are not being too invasive while sending those emails.

3. Old Postal Mail Strategy

Also called ‘direct mail’, this was the earliest form of online email marketing. In some verticals of direct marketing, postal mail is considered an outdated strategy.

However, many companies have done this before; it’s just that they have adopted the latest design standard, marketing strategies, and conversion funnels that work well with postal mail/ direct mail.

4. Sales Calls & Sales Rep Visits

Both of these are examples of direct marketing where a salesman either contacts customers through a phone call or through an in-person visit. The intention is the same – i.e. convert customer immediately on the spot, or book an appointment for the actual business deal later.

What Are The Best Examples of Indirect Marketing?

1. SEO & Content Marketing

When combined with SEO, content marketing can reap numerous benefits for any online business.

Giving your audience a consistent dose of value-driven content, backed up with first-page placements is a great way of converting customers.

2. Paid Content Collaborations

Also called sponsorships, these collaborations help to bring in customers through word-of-mouth marketing, and brand influencers.

To think of it, we have already written a couple of in-depth guides about influencer marketing and all there is to it, so, don’t forget to check them out on our blog later.

3. Affiliate Marketing

In affiliate marketing, you are supposed to promote products and services for other businesses.

If you are already running your own business, you can start your affiliate program, where others will do the same for you.

Affiliates make a decent living off of sending referrals. Let’s take the example of Amazon Affiliate marketing. It’s pretty popular, and tons of people do full-time affiliate marketing to make a decent living on the side.

The way Amazon’s Affiliate network works is that you are supposed to set up your own website, or an online platform where you promote products that are featured on Amazon’s website. If anyone buys anything through your referral link, you get a percentage-based commission against that sale.

Overall, affiliate marketing is a solid strategy that has been part of the indirect marketing vertical for many decades now.


And there you have it, a bit of a perspective on direct vs indirect marketing. Of course, if you go down deeper into the rabbit hole, there’s always room for discussing more.

In case, you’re running a startup and don’t have the slightest idea about how to execute direct vs indirect marketing strategies, feel free to consult a marketing professional.

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