What is Direct Response Marketing and How Is It Used?

There are many types of marketing that can be used to promote and sell your products in order to grow your company. Some of the ones that you will hear of most often include digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine marketing. Even though it is an integral part of most marketers’ strategies, you may be less familiar with direct response marketing and wondering what it is and how it is used. 


What is Direct Response Marketing?

Simply put, direct response marketing is a strategy that seeks to elicit an immediate response from consumers to generate new leads. The response sought can take several forms, ranging from purchasing a product to reading a blog post, visiting a website, or sharing something on social media.

While other types of marketing often focus on building a relationship with prospects, direct response marketing is focused on turning prospects into customers in a single step. Rather than working toward raising awareness about your business, building a brand identity, or other long-term goals, direct response marketing lets your customer take actionable steps.

Because of this focus on immediate action, it is easier to track your return on investment (ROI) in this type of campaign.


How is Direct Response Marketing Used?

As the name suggests, direct response marketing allows you to communicate directly with your customer, using methods outside of the traditional advertising methods. Because it works on the customer’s side by having them take action, it requires a different approach from typical advertising.

Many ads are geared toward providing information. They tell your audience about your company and your product. While they may aim to create a feeling or a desire in the potential customer, a direct response ad needs to create that same feeling while also compelling the customer to act upon it by creating an irresistible offer. If it doesn’t result in instant feedback, it has failed.


Elements of Direct Response Marketing

For many, the most obvious form of direct response marketing is direct mail, but there are many other types, including:

  • Email
  • Paid Ads
  • Social Media Ads
  • Landing Pages
  • TV/ Radio Ads

Typically, a direct response ad will feature the following elements:


An Offer

An offer will normally include information about the product, the cost, features, guarantee, cost of shipping and handling, and more. The offer isn’t always meant to sell anything, but rather to pique interest and suggest a course of action. The offer is usually part of an appeal to the prospect’s emotions and should be personalized to your target. According to research, 80% of customers are more likely to deal with a brand if it offers a personalized experience.


Information and Compelling Content

Direct response ads need to provide enough information to entice the customer and get them to accept the offer. If a product is not very well-known, it will need to provide more information. In order to attract and hold the customer’s attention, information must be part of a message that is concise, relevant, persuasive, and personalized. This message must make the case for the offer, explaining why it is better than other products, and demonstrating its value.

All of your content should be clear and easily readable, using everyday language.


Call to Action

Given that the goal is to have the prospect respond, a clear call to action is also required, which tells them not only what to do, but how to do it. Some examples of calls to action are:

  • Contact Us Now
  • Click This Link
  • Sign Up For Our Newsletter
  • Download a Free Trial
  • Buy Now to Receive a Discount

These are just a few examples. Essentially, anything that directs a customer to do something can be considered a call to action.


Advantages of Direct Response Marketing

There are many advantages to direct response marketing, but some of the most important include:


Measurable Results

A significant advantage offered by this type of marketing is the way measurable results that it offers. This makes it fairly simple to judge how many prospects are clicking on your ads or completing the forms that you have asked them to fill in. You are also able to calculate your return on investment (ROI) so that you can continually tweak and improve your campaigns.

Having more data is always an advantage and direct response marketing not only provides you useful data but also provides it quickly.


Building Relationships With Customers

Although it was suggested above those other forms of marketing are more focused on building relationships, that is not meant to imply that direct response marketing overlooks something so important.

Building relationships with your customers is always important, but direct response marketing may create these relationships faster.

Once a customer has responded to your CTA, whether by making a purchase, seeking information, or signing up for a newsletter, they are giving you their permission to follow up with them. Now you can send them information that is relevant to them, knowing that they are more receptive to it. This lets you start building your relationship with them immediately.

If your initial contact with them was positive and handled correctly, they may even be actively waiting to hear from you.


Why Use Direct Response Marketing Over Other Types of Marketing?

With so many forms of marketing to choose from, why should you choose direct response marketing over something else?

It is perhaps less about choosing it over something else and more about being sure that you are using it.

Your direct response ad can be thought of as something of a sales rep who is engaging customers, connecting with them, and trying to convince them to make a commitment to your company. But do you need a virtual salesperson? What about other options? Brand name recognition on its own is enough to bring many customers to an established business, but it can only go so far. Not every business is instantly recognizable with a history that instantly conveys a sense of confidence.

Your direct response marketing, when done well, can compel even those completely unfamiliar with your business to give you a chance at winning their loyalty and hard-earned money.


Building Effective Direct Response Marketing Campaigns

So far, we’ve been talking about what direct response marketing can do for you if it’s done well, but what steps can you take to get the response you are looking for?


Target Specific Audiences

Tools like Google Ads and Facebook Ads are an excellent way to do this, as they provide you with the tools to narrow your focus to where it is most effective. These aren’t the only options, however. Even older methods like tv and radio can still be effective if you have the data to guide you. With enough information about your audience, you can zero in on precisely the right target.


Provide Just Enough Information

Your goal isn’t to overwhelm your prospect with too much information. You want to give them enough to intrigue them and cause them to want to learn more. This curiosity helps motivate them to follow your call to action.


The Right Offer For The Right Person

If you are offering something to your audience, it doesn’t matter how great it is if it’s something they don’t want or need. If you aren’t getting the results you want, it may be that the offer is lacking, but it may just as easily be that you are targeting the wrong audience.


A Strong Call to Action

Your call to action is what it all comes down to and can make or break the ad. It should be strong and clear, as you are asking for the close, seeking for the customer to do the thing you want them to do. Without a powerful CTA, your prospect may simply move on, perhaps to a competitor.


Give Them a Way to Respond

So, you’ve caught the prospect’s interest and your call to action has struck the right chord; your client wants to act, but what happens if they don’t see a means to do so?

In most cases, this should be as simple as clicking on your CTA button, which can bring them to a landing page. You may also provide a form to fill in or a phone number to call. Whatever you choose, it should be clear enough that they can’t miss it.


Track Your Results

Far too often, smaller businesses fail to make use of website analytics, but they are necessary for direct response marketing, which practically calls out for tools like Google Analytics. Without them, you simply won’t know the outcome of your efforts or if you are converting.

When you are looking for results and want to see them fast, consider direct response marketing. It accelerates the buyer’s journey and provides you with the feedback you need to connect with your audience and grow your business.

Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.

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