Direct marketing has been the leading form of advertisement ever since the invention of the printing press. It is more effective and efficient than any other type of marketing because it allows marketers to connect directly with their audience. By targeting specific demographics and studying the habits of your customers, you can open a direct window into the needs of your market. And, of course, the success of any business hinges on finding and filling a specific need for a specific group of people.
So by contacting each individual personally, you have a much greater opportunity to engage them in a discussion about what it is that they need and how it is that you can help them with that. And the more closely you are able to follow along with the nuances of each subgroup within your target market, the better you’ll be able to convince them that you have a solution for exactly what ails them.
There has never been a more powerful tool for achieving this type of direct dialog with massive amounts of people than through direct e-mail marketing.

That is one of the reasons why email marketing is far and away the fastest growing segment of the direct marketing industry. The latest Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) Communications Industry Forecast estimates the total 2008 spending for email marketing communications at $11.8 billion. When you take into account the incredibly low material costs for e-mail marketing, that is a staggering figure. Even more impressive is the 18.5% estimated growth rate for this segment over the next 5 years.
VSS Executive Vice President Eric Buhler states that email marketing “will be bigger than catalogs and comparable to telesales spending,” largely because it is just so cost effective. Compared to traditional brand management and mass advertising efforts, email marketing also provides a much shorter and easier path to measuring return on investment. The marketer can measure response at every step of the way, even going so far as to split test your most effective messages against each other in order to squeeze every last drop of consumer response out of your email campaign.
Return on investment is everything in this economy. More than ever, business owners are having to pay very close attention to how much money is going out and the rate at which it is returning. Even when it comes to a medium as efficient as email marketing, there are still difficult decisions to be made.
For example, the choice between using a hosted email marketing service versus a standalone email marketing software product. In a better economic climate, the choice to use a hosted service can amount to just a small slice of your marketing budget. But at a time when total advertising spending is down nearly 8%, the extra expense of using a service instead of an in-house direct email marketing solution is money that could be more effectively spent on a high-powered copywriter.