Is Inbound Marketing Merely Direct Marketing in Disguise?

by Hugo Leger

The last few years have seen a fundamental shift in the marketing world, and with the introduction of new technologies and social media, there have been sweeping changes in the way that marketing is done. Or has there? Do we really create and implement marketing strategies that have evolved so much that old direct marketing strategies are hardly recognizable?

The truth is that we are still marketing in pretty much the same way that we have been doing for the last couple of years. All that has changed is the channels which we use to market. The terms “inbound marketing”, “digital marketing”  and “content marketing” have really been thrown about in the last five years. But are they really all that different to direct marketing?



The problem that we are facing in the marketing industry now, is that of old management vs new management. The new generation of marketers are entering the industry from the tech side, and therefore have very little knowledge of actual marketing and many of them wouldn’t know what the “four Ps” are or what is entailed in the “promotion mix”. While they can rock Google Analytics and tell you all about keywords – they often base their marketing on faulty grounds and data rather than looking at the marketing mix as a whole. The old generation of marketers are being unfairly brushed to the side for their traditional, ‘outdated’ methods, and this is a loss because even though they might struggle with the new buzzwords going around, they bring a wealth of experience and marketing knowledge to the industry that is sorely needed.

Almost all digital marketing is simply direct marketing that has been given another platform from which to send out marketing material: the Internet. Online or digital marketing is merely the newest form of direct marketing, and the Internet simply provides new communication channels on which marketing promotional mixes are carried out. The key to successful marketing strategy is to integrate new digital marketing and inbound marketing practices with the principles of old, traditional direct marketing.


Integrating the old and the new


Marketing strategies and practices are changing to take advantage of today’s Internet technologies and this is how direct marketing has ‘evolved’ into digital and inbound marketing strategies. Integrating direct marketing strategies onto a digital platform is the only way to ensure that your marketing strategy is going to be effective.

Understanding traditional direct marketing practices are the best place to start integrating them into new channels and technologies. The four Ps (promotion, product, price and place) and the promotion mix (direct marketing, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and publicity) can then be adapted to fit social media or other digital campaigns. Email campaigns, banners, social media, blog posts and other material are all just forms of direct marketing that have been successfully transferred into a new channel to meet the target audience, and marketing automation is simply just a way to run all of your direct marketing off one platform.

This article by Samuel Scott on Moz goes into much more detail and is a great read if you are looking to integrate your new digital strategies with the principles of direct marketing.

The basics of direct marketing

Hailed as the “Father of Direct Marketing”, Lester Wunderman outlines these 19 principles to ensure success in a direct marketing paradigm:

  1. Direct Marketing Is a Strategy, Not a Tactic
  2. The Consumer, Not the Product, Must Be the Hero
  3. Communicate with Each Customer as an Audience of One
  4. Answer the Question “Why Should I?”
  5. Advertising Must Change Behavior, Not Just Attitudes
  6. The Next Step: Profitable Advertising
  7. Build the “Brand Experience”
  8. Create Relationships
  9. Know and Invest in Each Customer’s Lifetime Value
  10. “Suspects” Are Not Prospects
  11. Media Is a Contact Strategy
  12. Be Accessible to Your Customers
  13. Encourage Interactive Dialogues
  14. Learn the Missing “When?”
  15. Create an Advertising Curriculum That Teaches as it Sells
  16. Acquire Customers with the Intention to Loyalize Them
  17. Loyalty Is A Continuity Program
  18. Your Share of Loyal Customers, Not Your Share of the Market Creates Profits
  19. You Are What You Know

As digital marketers, we need to focus on the principles of direct marketing, and instead of pushing traditional marketing techniques behind us, we need to adapt and evolve them to best fit the digital world that surrounds us. Only by doing this will we ever get the best out of our digital and inbound marketing strategies.


At Rise + Shine, we use an inbound marketing approach that centres around the very best principles in direct marketing to help companies attract their ideal customers by creating and implementing successful lead nurturing campaigns. If you would like to know more about lead nurturing and ways to get a better lead conversion rate for your company,

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