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What Is Direct Response Marketing & Why It Works?

Impulses, we all have them. But how often do you give in to yours? Generally there’s a reason why. 

Someone gave you an offer that was too good to pass up. A brand happened to serve you the right content at the right time, and if you didn’t take advantage of it then, chances are you’d not get another opportunity like it. 

That’s direct response marketing. It’s a type of marketing strategy that compels a high-quality prospect to take immediate action and opt into the advertiser’s offer. 

  • It educates instead of selling. 
  • It costs very little to produce. 
  • And the results are measurable, making it ideal for small businesses.

Here’s everything you need to implement an effective direct response marketing campaignwhat it is, why it works, and which businesses will benefit from it. Click to jump ahead:

    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Marketing Your Small Business - Why Use Direct Response?

    The purpose of direct response marketing is to evoke an immediate response in your target audience. The people most likely to buy your product or service. 

    It uses emotive copy that connects with your prospect on a deeper more meaningful level, and a clear call to action compelling them to take action. It could be 

    • Opting into your email list (you’ll need a CRM. I prefer Ontraport but ActiveCampaign is also a great one.)
    • Picking up the phone and calling for more information 
    • Placing an order
    • Filling in a form
    • Visiting your website 
    • Trialing your product
    • Downloading cornerstone content (a framework, free book, report, how-to guide)
    • Taking your survey.

    The point is you capture their details then and there. Unlike traditional advertising, with direct response, you don’t have to rely on the prospect to remember to reach out to your business.

    So why does this strategy benefit your business?

    What are the Benefits of Response Marketing?

    Direct response marketing is the ultimate marketing strategy for small business owners because you can’t afford to invest in branding.

    Branding is expensive. We’re talking multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns. For most small businesses, that’s probably your entire budget for the next five years. 

    You need leads fast. And as Hubspot’s Not Another State of Marketing report finds that 70% of small businesses struggle with lead generation, direct response delivers the goods. 

    Here are six benefits of direct response marketing. 

    1. Lead generation. But not just any lead. High-value leads. People who just need a little personalization and reassurance they’re making the right decision, and bam, they’re sold. 
    2. A sense of urgency. Provided your offer is compelling, most prospects will throw caution to the wind and take action. The result is a faster response rate. No sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. 
    3. Cost-savings. Because your marketing campaign is targeted, your upfront advertising costs are cheaper. You’re not trying to reach a broad audience. So you’ll spend less on unqualified leads. 
    4. It’s trackable. Whether you use direct marketing, social media, Google Ads, or landing pages, direct response is trackable. You can see exactly how many impressions your content received and converted. All you need to do is continue the conversation.
    5. It opens a direct line of conversation with high-priority leads. Every single one of those people who opt-in due to your direct response ad are warm leads. They’ve given you permission to email them. Your goal is to deliver value, build a relationship and move them along your sales funnel until they’re ready to buy. 
    6. It delivers measurable results. You can track how much money you invested into your campaign, how many leads you received, which channels performed well, and how many people converted. TV advertising and radio spots can’t give you the same granular insight. They can’t give you definitive results. 

    So what media can you use to implement your direct response marketing campaign?

    6 Reasons to Implement a Direct Response Marketing Campaign

    6 Effective Channels For Successful Direct Response Marketing

    There are several response marketing channels that you can use to run an effective direct response advertising campaign. Ideally, you want to use a mix of online and offline marketing techniques. 

    Here are six examples of direct response campaigns.

    1. DIRECT MARKETING.

    Direct mail or snail mail is an excellent lead generation tactic. Think about. How many emails do you get from brands each day? Your inbox is bombarded with spammy marketing. It’s easy to delete.

    Now direct mail is exciting. It’s something different that can help to build a positive brand image and start a conversation with potential customers.

    You can use direct mail to implement a referral program.  For example, include a voucher with a clear cta for prospects. It could be a discount on their next purchase when they refer a friend. So using direct mail as part of your direct marketing strategy is a powerful example of reaching your target audience through response marketing. 

    Learn how to ask for a referral using direct mail here.

    I always send two books to customers so they can give one to a friend

    2. EMAIL MARKETING.

    Another great way to reach potential customers is by creating an email direct response campaign. For example, you could create a limited time offer that lets subscribers access a course or event for free. You’d include a cta button in your email that directs your prospects to a landing page where they can sign up for a free trial.

    This type of marketing works because it delivers value before a sale. And let’s be honest, customers love getting free stuff.

    Laura Belgray demonstrates how to use direct response to sell your product quickly with email

    3. DIGITAL MARKETING.

    All of your direct response marketing campaigns need to include digital marketing tactics for example search engine marketing (SEM), banner advertising, and video marketing.

    You could create a direct response campaign that answers the questions your audience are typing into Google. For example, if you know your customers frequently ask how to build a remote team you could create a blog that details exactly how to find the right talent, what tools they’ll need, pricing strategies, and much more.

    In the blog you’d include a clear cta that directs a customer to book a free hour consult. So make sure it’s part of your direct response marketing strategy.

    Here’s another example. It earns Google’s Featured Snippet. Not only is the blog helping it’s ideal target audience, but the backlinks from these podcasts can improve their domain ranking and drive more traffic. So it’s a win-win situation. 

    4. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

    Pretty much every business uses social media and most have a Facebook account. So why not use Facebook ads to target potential customers. For example, you could create a direct response Facebook ad that offers your audience a free nutritional plan to help them feel good, look great, and drop inches quickly. All they need to do is like your page and refer a friend.

    It’s direct, includes a clear cta, drives prospects to take action, builds your audience and if you nurture new prospects you’ll get more sales and brand evangelists. So don’t discount social media as a successful direct response marketing tactic.

    5. TV, PODCASTING AND RADIO.

    We’ve all seen those television commercials where if you buy now they’ll throw in a bunch of extra add-ons. This type of response marketing has been used for years. But with podcasting, your brand now has a captured audience.

    You can choose a highly specific podcast show and tailor your direct response marketing campaigns to their customers’ unique needs. So make sure to include broadcast in your marketing campaign.

    So these response marketing strategies work to build brand awareness, generate qualified leads, make more sales, and grow your customer base. Now that you know how to reach your audience, let’s break down the essentials of direct response advertising.

    6. Referral Programs

    While you can’t bank on word-of-mouth marketing to grow your business, it is one of the most effective direct response marketing strategies. 

    Why? Because people trust referrals from friends and family. 

    Referral programs build brand awareness and increase customer loyalty.

    Let’s use Fiverr’s referral program as an example. For customers that refer a friend, the friend receives a 10% discount off their first purchase, and you could earn up to $100 as well. 

    So for job hunters, it’s a great opportunity to make additional money.

    What Is Direct Response Advertising?

    Most brand advertising focus on name recognition. Direct response advertising, in comparison, focus on acquiring leads. The purpose of a direct response advert is to evoke an immediate response.  

    While every direct response advertisement includes a call-to-action, the point is not to sell. 

    It’s about getting people who are interested in what you do to raise their hand and say I want to know more. These leads go into a follow-up database (or sales funnel). From here it’s up to you to deliver value and position yourself as an authority. To gain their trust and build a relationship. 

    If you use direct response advertising to drive leads to landing pages, it’s vital you’ve set up your sales funnel for each of your buyer personas. To learn more about how to master sales funnels click here.

    Now let’s take a look at the characteristics of direct response advertising.

    8 Characteristics Of A Direct Response Advert

    So what makes a successful direct response advertisement? There are eight key characteristics or techniques. They are: 

    Step-by-step guide to crafting a direct response ad
    Use this checklist to effectively implement direct response marketing into your small-to-medium-sized business.

    1. direct response marketing is trackable.

    When someone responds, you know which ad and which media generated the response.

    This is in direct contrast to mass media or “brand” marketing. No one will ever know what ad compelled you to buy that can of Coke.

    What’s more pressing is you track your ads. A survey by Blue Corona Media revealed less than 30% of small businesses use website analytics or call tracking. 18% admit to not tracking anything.

    What gets measured, gets managed. You can’t improve your numbers if you don’t track and measure the results.

    2. Direct response is measurable.

    With direct response marketing, you know which ads received a response and how many sales you got from each one. As a result, you can measure the effectiveness of each ad.  

    Now you can drop or change ads that aren’t performing. 

    So measuring, managing and improving your key marketing numbers will impact the result.

    3. direct response ads use compelling headlines & sales copy.

    Direct response marketing has a compelling message of strong interest to your chosen prospects.

    It uses attention-grabbing headlines with persuasive sales copy that is “salesmanship in print.”

    Often the ad looks more like an editorial than an advertisement (hence making it at least three times more likely to get read).

    4. direct response targets a specific audience or niche.

    It’s served to prospects within specific verticals, geographic zones, or niche markets. The ad aims to appeal to a narrow target market. Your goal should be to become a big fish in a small pond.

    5. direct response marketing makes a specific offer.

    Usually, the ad makes a specific value-packed offer. It does not sell. Instead, the ad aims to get the prospect to take the next action, such as requesting a free report.  

    The offer focuses on the prospect rather than on the advertiser. It talks about the prospect’s interests, desires, fears, and frustrations. 

    By contrast, branding has a one size fits all marketing message. It also focuses on the advertiser.

    6. direct response ads demand a response.

    A direct response advert always has a “call to action.” It compels the prospect to do something specific.

    It also includes a means of response and “capture” of these responses.

    Interested, high probability prospects have easy ways to respond. It could be via a regular phone number, a free recorded message line, a website, a fax back form, a reply card or coupons.

    When the prospect responds, it captures the person’s contact information. You can now contact them whenever you choose.

    7. DIRECT RESPONSE DELIVERS A Multi-step, short-term follow-up.

    In exchange for capturing the prospect’s details, it offers valuable education and information on the prospect’s problem.

    It includes a second “irresistible offer,” which ties into whatever next step you want them to take. For example, this could be calling to schedule an appointment or coming into the showroom or store.

    Then it makes a series of follow-up “touches” via different media such as mail, e-mail, fax, and cellphone. Often there is a time or quantity limit on the offer.

    8. Maintenance follow-up of unconverted leads.

    There are many reasons why people don’t respond immediately. They may not have the money, or they may not need your services now.

    There is value in this bank of slow-to-mature prospects. Make sure they continue hearing from you once to several times a month.

    For example, let’s look at this LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (LMS) ad.

    Illustrate what an example of a direct response ad looks like
    • As a promoted post on LinkedIn, LMS can track how many times the ad was served to prospects and who clicked on it.
    • It uses an enticing headline and compelling copy. It shares the stories of six successful lead generation campaigns. If you want to drive real business results, you’ll read it.
    • It makes a specific offer. It will show you how to build a sophisticated lead generation strategy on LinkedIn.
    • It includes a call-to-action. Learn more.
    • On clicking the link you can read the article. A pop-up asks if you’d like to subscribe to the blog. You have to input your email address to subscribe to the blog. See their multi-step, follow-up form below.
    Visual example of direct response marketing at work, using an opt-in form

    Why Response Marketing Is Money At A Discount

    Direct response marketing is an ethical way of selling. It’s focused on the specific problems of the prospect. And aims to solve these problems with education and particular solutions. It is also the only real way for a small business to reach the consciousness of a prospect affordably. 

    Your marketing system must deliver profitable results. You have to know what a customer is worth to you. Then you need to decide what you are reasonably willing to invest in acquiring one. Only then should you build systems that work within that limit.

    Direct response marketing is accountable. Because it’s focused on ROI, it’s the responsible way to run marketing for a small business.

    If I sold $10 bills for $2 each, how many would you buy?

    The name of the game with direct response marketing is ‘money at a discount,’ e.g., $2 into advertising to get $10 out in the way of profits from sales. When you turn your ads into direct response ads, they become lead generating tools rather than name recognition tools.

    Small Business Marketing Resources

    I wrote the 1-Page Marketing Plan because I’d been that business owner struggling to figure out how to win at the marketing game.   

    I’d spent thousands of dollars on bad advertising that didn’t bring in leads or make a sale. It took me ten years to crack marketing my business, and that was ten years too long.

    I wanted to give business owners a blueprint for success. It would be something they could use to build a strategic marketing plan and propel their business growth. 

    The book is an implementation breakthrough. It will show you how to create and implement a sophisticated direct response marketing plan for your business.

    Use these resources to develop a response marketing campaign that gets results.

    If you want to learn how to write better, click here

    Get Started With Response Marketing

    Whether you’re a marketing agency, or a small business owner, you need to master direct response marketing. It’s the best way to target online consumers and get them to take action. Use it correctly and you’ll substantially increase conversions.

    Plus, there’s no risk when using direct response. Just make sure your campaign and marketing offer is compelling. Direct response won’t work if you don’t have a good product-to-market fit.

    So get on the phone with your customer. Add a chatbot to your website and find out what your consumers’ challenges are because that’s how you’ll craft direct response adverts and campaigns that get results. 

    Now that you know how to attract the right lead. You need to build a lead nurturing email campaign that moves them along the buyer’s journey until they’re ready to convert to a customer

    If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our article on Building Business Systems. It will help you to skyrocket your sales, and attract investors.

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