A history of direct response marketing — and why you need it for success

Underrated and evergreen

Trends affect marketing strategies just like any other area of business. One such trend that is often overlooked, despite its effectiveness, is direct response marketing. In a nutshell, this is a type of marketing intended to elicit a specific response from a potential customer. You likely already incorporate elements of direct response marketing in your current marketing strategy, though there’s plenty more you can do for greater success.

In this piece, we’ll look at what direct response marketing refers to and how it works. We’ll also show you how to get started with the tactic. Let’s go!

A brief introduction to direct response marketing

Right off the bat, we should clear up some confusion between direct response marketing, and the similar-sounding “direct marketing.” The latter is simply contacting a potential customer directly, such as via email. However, the former is more complex, and refers to marketing that’s designed to elicit a specific (and direct) response.

There are plenty of real-world examples of direct response marketing, and many of them are well known — for example, infomercials and mail order forms. However, these older strategies don’t represent all possibilities. In fact, you likely already incorporate elements of direct response marketing through your website’s call-to-action (CTA) and elsewhere.

Handled correctly, this marketing method is just as valid as any other, and can be incredibly successful.

 

As if success isn’t enough, there are plenty of other reasons to implement a direct response marketing strategy:

  • You cut out any intermediaries, meaning the whole “transaction” is between you and the customer.
  • It’s a cheaper form of marketing compared to traditional formats that require mass market saturation using large budgets.
  • It adheres to “good practices” of marketing, such as compelling headlines and copy, meaning you’ll rely on classic techniques that aren’t tied to current trends.
  • It’s trackable and measurable, which will help you refine and improve the strategy over time.

As you might be able to tell, direct response marketing is a long-term strategy that doesn’t focus on short-term goals. Overall, it’s a great solution for a small business with a hot product and modest budget.

How to start creating direct response marketing

Direct Response Marketing Creating

At its core, direct response marketing consists of three elements, that can become as complex as necessary in order to achieve your goals:

1. The proposal or offer

Think less “Do you want to buy this product?” and more about the whole package. This includes the price, trial period, terms and conditions, future obligations and considerations, and everything the customer needs in order to get a handle on what they’re “getting into.”

2. Relevant information related to your offer

Attention spans are getting shorter, which means convincing a potential customer is tougher than ever. As such, your message must be persuasive and speak personally to the reader.

3. A call-to-action (CTA)

You’ll likely have a firm grasp on what this consists of, as we’ve covered it extensively before on the blog.

Your proposal to the reader can be thought of as presenting a contract. After all, you wouldn’t enter into an agreement without knowing exactly what you were signing up for, and your customers are no different.

The goal is to provide something compelling that the reader simply cannot refuse.

 

When it comes to your CTA, it’s vital that you provide a clear method of response for the reader. For example, avoid the simple “Sign up today!” Instead, use specific phrases such as “Email us…” or “Call Us…” to make it clear what you want them to do.

Advanced tips for optimizing the success of your marketing strategy

Once you have a direct response marketing strategy in place, you can start to refine it further. There are plenty of tips for optimizing your strategy that don’t involve creating an infomercial (although that’s not a bad idea for some businesses). For example:

  • Making the purchasing decision as easy as possible for the customer by almost holding their hand throughout the process.
  • Segmenting your customer lists is just as vital here as it is for other strategies. Highly-targeted direct response marketing is a surefire winner, in our opinion.
  • Giving your message urgency, boosting its relevance, and making it clear are going to give your readers an extra push to convert, with fewer reasons to say no.

On the whole, direct response marketing is tough to get right, despite the simple concept. However, it’s a challenge worth accepting, as it has high converting potential. While these aren’t the only advanced tips available, they’re a great start to take your direct response marketing to the next level.

Conclusion

There are plenty of tactics you can turn to in order to market your small business and its products. One that doesn’t hit the headlines as often as it should is direct response marketing. However, this tactic is anything but stale.

Because it’s built upon classic marketing best practices, it’s an evergreen strategy that can net you more custom and increased income, without overstaying its welcome.

What’s more, because direct response marketing is trackable and measurable, it can form a core part of your overall marketing strategy undetected, unlike other more fashionable strategies.