What is direct response marketing?

It’s not a secret that even the best product won’t thrive if no one knows it exists. Naturally, all companies strive to optimize their marketing strategy and figure out the formula for success. No doubt, the competition is tough with 4,000 to 10,000 ads fighting for customer’s attention daily.

With the rise of social media and digital marketing, ‘direct response marketing’ or DRM is gaining ever more popularity. Even though it’s been around for much longer, technology now allows targeting specific customer segments like never before. In this blog post we’ll talk about what direct response marketing is, what are the key elements and how to make it work for your company.

What is direct response marketing?

Generally, we distinguish between two main marketing strategies – mass marketing (or branding) and direct response marketing.

Think about Coca-Cola’s winter TV advertisements or Verizon’s commercials on Super Bowl Sunday – these are both perfect examples of mass marketing. The effects of it are seen over time, as the brand is building awareness and creates an image in the consumer’s mind. Tracking their effectiveness in terms of revenue isn’t straight-forward as it’s difficult to measure the conversion rate since their main role is to build brand recognition.

On the other side, direct response marketing (DRM) focuses on triggering an instant response by encouraging prospects to take a specific action. If successful, this is immediately reflected in the ROI (return on investment).

The goal is to convince consumers to call a number, visit a website URL, or take some other desired action. This is done by generating a call-to-action (CTAs) like “Click Here” or “Shop Now.”

Direct marketing has been around for a long time – it could be found nearly in all forms of advertising, including TV and radio commercials, print marketing (magazines, newspapers, etc.), websites and social media. It’s clear that it isn’t a ‘social media phenomenon’, but it’s evident that with the increased amount of time people spend online, the direct marketing’s popularity is also skyrocketing. Tracking, segmentation and measuring outcomes is now easier than ever.

What are the top 5 key elements of direct response marketing?

To increase your chances of success, you must have a strategy in place on how best to leverage DRM to drive lead generation. You’ll have to communicate the reason why customers need your product, what’s your compelling offer?

If you’re interested in marketing, you probably already know that the first question you should ask yourself: “Who am I selling to, who is my target customer?”. You have to know your audience well and understand what motivates them to purchase. Once you have that in place, you can proceed with building your marketing strategy.

In order to lead a successful direct response campaign, your advertisements should include the following elements:

direct response marketing components

Target specific market segments

As we said, know your audience and then take steps to reach them. The easiest examples are with Facebook, Instagram and Google ads, where you can use demographics, interests, and other tools to market to the desired segment.

This can also be done with direct mail campaigns, TV ads, billboards. You’ll just need data to back it up, and for offline platforms it isn’t as easily presented as online ones.

Focus on the customer

People don’t buy what you do just because you’re telling them to. They need more – how this is going to help them and why do they need it? Focusing on the brand will not get your target to respond to the ad. Instead, explain how it will solve their problems or talk about the things they care about; this will yield better results. Simon Sinek talks about that in his famous TED Talk on “How great leaders inspire action?”.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Try to appeal to the customer’s emotions, desires, frustrations, and fears. Make your messaging compelling to your chosen prospects and use attention-grabbing headlines that will work on your market segment. For instance, often the ad may end up looking more like an editorial than an advertisement (hence making it at least three times more likely to get read).

Consider also adding sense of urgency if appropriate – the offer is available limited time only, expires in 24 hours, or while stock lasts. This will put pressure on the customer to make a quicker decision than they would normally.

Have a clear call to action

The call to action is the invite to close the deal and it can be very powerful. Consumers want simplicity, getting them to the desired place should be quick and straight-forward. For example, if you’re using online campaigns, use a button to drive people to your landing page, then show them what they need to do next when they’re there.

Don’t forget to track and measure it

According to a Blue Corona Media survey, less than 30% of small businesses use website analytics or call tracking. 18% report not to tracking anything. Tracking is vital to understanding which ad generates the best response and ROI. It can help you figure out which ads are most efficient, what you can drop to improve your budgeting.

Make measuring, managing and improving your key marketing numbers a habit. It may not seem necessary if you’re just getting started, but the even the slightest improvements are getting you one step closer to success.

direct response marketing

How to make direct response marketing work for you?

As we discussed, knowing your target is key, but you should also make sure your database is up to date. Once you have a clear understanding of who you wish to market to, it’s time to determine the dataset for the sales and marketing teams to explore. Create a process to ensure you’re working with up-to-date information and prospects. Depending on the stage of your business, this can be either automatic or manual.

As direct response marketing offers tracking results in real-time, test, and measure for success. Consider A/B testing, review and compare how each ad is performing. If a campaign isn’t delivering the expected results, be agile and make adjustments.

Lastly, evaluate your options and select the best medium to deliver message. No doubt, companies across different industries and sizes can benefit from DRM. However, your campaign may be a perfect fit for a TV commercial, not so much for social media and vise versa. Think about your target audience and where they are most likely to come across your message and act on it.


Direct response marketing is a great way to engage with your target customers and drive action now, rather than waiting for the customer to be motivated enough to move on their own.

Your goal should be to catch the customers’ attention, spark their interest, and propose an offer. Collect your data, measure results, define success, and do it all again.

If you’re looking for more conversions with a solid ROI, you should definitely consider giving DRM a try.

Write A Comment