Ultimate Guide to Direct Response Marketing in 2021

Direct response marketing doesn’t need to be confusing or difficult. In fact, most savvy marketers find direct response marketing more intuitive and rewarding than brand advertising. With direct response advertising, you get immediate feedback on your marketing efforts and see the types of metrics that allow you to make better marketing decisions, faster.  

We’re going to show you the secrets behind the best strategies used by the top direct response marketers today. You’ll be generating revenue in no time!

In this guide, we will go over all of the best practices in direct response marketing to ensure your efforts result in immediate sales, in the quickest way possible. And we’ll even show you some of the best direct response campaigns from some of today’s top direct response brands so you can use the same strategies as the pros.

Note: This guide contains information for the direct response marketing newbie and the seasoned pro. 

What is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing is a method of advertising and sales intended to influence potential customers to take immediate action on an offer. These marketing techniques often create a sense of urgency; therefore, results can be tallied and measured almost immediately, as the entire sales cycle occurs quickly.

Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses are a good example of brand advertising. They want you to remember the Budweiser brand the next time you shop for beer. 

GEICO, on the other hand, is a direct response campaign. Every commercial ends with “Call Now. 15 minutes may save you 15% or more”. GEICO wants a direct response from you: a phone call. If you see a commercial on TV that shows a phone number or website URL, it’s likely a direct response advertisement. They want you to buy the product right now. Facebook advertisements are almost always direct response campaigns: click the ad and buy the product.

You’ll find these marketing techniques on a variety of platforms and mediums we’ll discuss below.

Direct Response Marketing Examples

Imagine yourself as a direct response marketer 10 or 15 years ago, and you want to run a television commercial in Boston, Chicago, and New York. It would have taken a lot of effort to know exactly which airings performed best. Did your New York City advertisement at 7 AM on Channel 5 work better than your advertisement at 6:50 AM on Channel 4? It took a lot of analytics and expertise to optimize your campaigns. Offline advertising had lots of these problems whether you advertised on radio, television, or print.

But with today’s digital marketing channels like Facebook and Instagram, attributing your media spend to direct sales is much easier. These platforms were built to track every dollar spent in media to a resulting sale. So you’ll know with certainty if a $100 advertisement spent on one Facebook audience performed better than $100 spent on another Facebook audience.  These easy-to-understand metrics give you the decision making power that was only available to the big advertisers years ago.  Digital marketing has leveled the playing field for advertisers.

Here are some of the most common direct response marketing examples:

direct response marketing email marketing example
  • Email Marketing – Sending a message to your lead database with a product offer. Emails are especially beneficial if you’ve leveraged another form of advertising or social media engagement to obtain warm leads. Creating a nurture campaign can also increase the likelihood of a buyer responding to your offer.  Also, emails are inexpensive compared to other marketing efforts.

    One great example of a company that utilizes email marketing campaigns is Fitness Mentors, a health and fitness industry expert that sends emails to their contact database that not only educate their readers, but they promote their personal trainer certification study guides.

    They also utilize nurture campaigns by sending relevant follow-up emails to those who have opted in and expressed interest to further encourage a customer conversion.
  • Infomercials – Infomercials are television commercials that range anywhere from 20 seconds to entire half-hour shows, focused on a specific product. Often referred to as the “As Seen On TV” products, they are products that can be clearly demonstrated and have a wide appeal. The most popular categories for infomercials are kitchen appliances and gadgets, at-home fitness products, supplements, and kids’ products. Just about every commercial you see on Saturday morning TV are direct response campaigns where you can purchase the toy directly from a website.
  • Webinars: An internet seminar hosted by a knowledgeable representative of your company.
  • Podcasts – An audio discussion of a particular subject, often hosted by a spokesperson within your company that possesses your products’ expertise.
  • Digital Marketing – Whether Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other platform, social media marketing ads are often applying direct response marketing techniques to collect leads and sell products.

    Here is an example of a Waze ad on Facebook:
direct response marketing facebook ad example
  • Refer-A-Friend Programs – Believe it or not, these are highly effective. With a specific landing page dedicated to your referral program, you can find your product or service sales increasing rapidly by offering current customers incentives.

Regardless of which media you’re using to drive your traffic, the end result is always a dedicated landing page (or microsite) that is focused solely on that product. More often than not, the landing page is even focused on that particular offer, not just the product itself. The more narrowly focused the landing page, the better the conversion rate.

Direct Response Website Design

Whether you are using emails, infomercials, webinars, or any of the aforementioned direct response marketing examples, chances are you’ll be driving prospects to a landing page. 

Because it can take a user just 50 milliseconds to determine whether your page is one they’ll stay on, the landing page your campaign points to is of the utmost importance when attempting to complete the sales cycle and convert your visitors to customers. 

There are a few core principles you should consider while creating your landing page – after all, it’s your virtual storefront, and you will sometimes only get one shot to engage your buyers.

  • Looks aren’t everything – When it comes to building a full website, your branding, quality graphics, and ease of browsing are crucial factors. But when you’re creating a product-specific landing page, the key is to complete the sale, right then and there. 

Your direct response microsite should follow your key branding guidelines, of course, but the real focus is to attract your potential buyers with an engaging offer and a compelling call-to-action. 

Your site should pass the “blink test.” When test-viewing your page, confirm your page’s message comes across in the split second it takes to blink. That’s often the time it takes a visitor to judge whether they want to stay.

* The top fold matters the most.  You need to show:

1. What the customer is buying, in a photo

2. The exact details of the offer

3. The video, if you have one

4. Your unique selling point, or Features & Benefits of your product

5. Call to action.

These 5 items must be in the top fold. A great example is below, where you’ll see each of the items displayed on this landing page:

direct response marketing top of fold recommendations
  • Remove all navigation. The goal of your page is to keep your visitors on it, and in turn, generate a sale. Any navigation, even to internal links or to your social media pages, will distract from what you’re trying to accomplish. Remove any other links to ensure your visitor has only one next step to take.

    For example, on the landing page for Stealth: https://trystealth.com/ – You’ll notice there are no navigation options on the top or sides. Your choices are to read/watch more about the product or click the call-to-action to purchase it.
  • Focus on your call-to-action. The reason your visitors are there is that something about your direct response advertisement piqued their interest. They’re looking to learn more about your product. Now is the time to use this to your benefit. There should always be a pronounced next step to complete the sale.
  • Generate Leads. Your landing page visitors may not buy immediately, so it’s essential to have a way to collect their contact information in the interim. Asking for their basic information first and foremost will allow you to nurture the sales cycle.

The form should be short and to the point, collecting just enough information to enable you to nurture the sales cycle. Two great things to ask for are simply name and email address. If you need to ask for anything that has a few choices, it’s best to include the options in a drop-down. Your website visitors will be more likely to volunteer information if it doesn’t require as much typing.

Your form’s best location is on the upper right side of the landing page, where it is most visible. The title, subheading, and other copy work best to the left. And don’t forget – always include a link to your privacy policy! 

  • Embed Videos. Landing pages with videos are proven to help boost conversions by up to 86%. Sending them to an external video or informational link will steer them off your page, but engaging your audience in a directly embedded video helps keep the customer there and interested. 

Your landing page video should be short and to the point, around 90 seconds maximum, with the most effective videos being 30-60 seconds. The message should be front-loaded – as you can expect that only half of your viewers will watch all the way through. 

A great example of a landing page with a video embedded is Emeril Lagasse’s Power AirFryer 360 from Tristar. You’ll also notice many of the principles we’ve discussed put into practice. The landing page is simple, to the point, doesn’t ask for too much information, has a clear CTA (Order Now), and few additional navigation options.

direct response marketing embedding videos
  • Be conscious of speed. Pages that take a long time to load will have incredibly high bounce rates, so it’s vital to build your page without a lot of plug-ins and with its loading time in mind. 

A 1-second delay in the page loading can result in 7% fewer conversions. To put that into perspective, an e-commerce site making $50,000 per day will lose over $1.2 million of revenue in a year just by having a one-second lag.

  • Be sure your landing page is mobile optimized. With Mojo’s clients, 80-90% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. You should always take a “mobile-first” mentality when designing your website.  Whenever possible, use Responsive Web Design as the underlying technology instead of creating a mobile-specific website.  Not only does Google recommend responsive web design in terms of SEO, but you’ll find keeping two different versions of your website in sync very difficult to do as you test different marketing copy and offers. 
  • A/B Test Your Landing Page. Better yet, A/B/C/D/E/F test it, and so on! The more variables you can tweak to precisely analyze results and optimize your conversion rates, the better. 

While this topic alone will be the focus of future guides, it’s important to understand just how critical A/B testing is to a direct response campaign.  Simply put, no matter how much experience you and your team may have…the site you launch is just your best guess. You don’t really know which message, imagery, and offer will resonate the most with your audience.  And if you don’t test, you’ll never know.

For example, let’s say you have a landing page for a product valued at $50 plus $5 shipping. As a special offer, you’d like to create a discount. A great A/B/C test might be producing three separate variables: 10% off the product vs. $5 off the product vs. free shipping on the customer’s order. 

All three discounts have the same value, but the test should determine which offer was more visually and even subconsciously appealing to your audience and created more conversions. 

Another common example is the payment structure.  Is your product $79.99 or two payments of $39.99?  Is it a trial offer of $14.95 followed by a one-time payment of $65?  Is it 4 payments of $19.99?  Maybe you can offer a Buy 2 Get 1 Free or a Buy 1 Get 1 50% off?

Here is an example from the PowerXL Smokeless Grill landing page. The cost of the product starts with a trial, then has three payments of $33.33 afterwards. This equates to $114.98 plus processing and handling, but seems more affordable broken up.

direct response marketing ab testing

Accurately targeting and testing your pages and forms has been shown to boost conversions by 300% or more!

Of course, if you’re going to experiment with different wording variables, you’ll need to know what results you will be comparing and how. It’s imperative to know what measurements to examine in defining your direct response marketing campaign’s success.

How to Measure the Success of Your Direct Response Marketing

You may think it’s merely a matter of money-in vs. money-out. And in a way, it is. But the reality is, there are a variety of key performance indicators that you should be analyzing to get an accurate understanding of your direct response advertising campaign.

 Here are a few things you should be looking at:

  • Click-through-rate (CTR) or response rate: How many people saw your advertisement and engaged? If it was a commercial or other digital media, the response rate might be measured by how many people responded by either visiting the landing page or calling. 

If it was a digital ad, this could be measured by how many people clicked on the ad versus how many people saw it. Each display of your ad counts as one impression. 

You can calculate your CTR by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions (clicks ÷ impressions). For example, if your direct response advertisement receives 1,000 impressions and 50 people click on it, your CTR would be 5%.

  • Conversion rate: How many of your clicks or respondents actually took advantage of your offer? The conversion rate can be calculated by taking the number of conversions and dividing it by the total number of clicks. For example, if you had 10 conversions from 500 interactions, your conversion rate would be 2%. Today’s average Shopify conversion rate is 1.4%, which means 1 out of every 72 unique visitors end up completing a sale.
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): When you factor in what you spent to get your customer’s business, how much did it cost for each one? This KPI is especially important when comparing different marketing channels to see which has worked the best. The lesser the CPA, the more influential the campaign may be overall. 

To calculate your CPA, you’ll need to know exactly how much you spent (preferably separated into each marketing channel) to capture the customers you received from it. The total amount you spent on the campaign divided by the number of customers you acquired gives you your CPA. 

You can narrow this down further by dividing how much you spent on a specific channel by the number of customers obtained from that channel. This method will provide you a clearer CPA that gives you an insight into which channels are producing the most revenue so you can make your campaign the most effective.

  • Average Order Value: This is another metric to determine what campaign is most successful, especially in testing different advertising channels. Sometimes larger orders come from one channel versus another, so it’s essential to calculate and understand this data.

Direct response campaigns are all about the metrics. Today’s biggest direct response advertisers live and die by a simple rule: let the metrics decide. They test every good idea that is presented and let the winner decide if it was a good idea or not. The best direct response marketers don’t let emotions or personal agendas influence their campaign…it’s all about the metrics.

Your campaign’s success and the increase in these KPIs often lies in how you present the information to your potential customer once you’ve encouraged them to click or call. No matter the advertising vertical, the web page the customer is directed to can be the sole determining factor in your product’s success or lack of success.

How To Have a Successful Direct Response Marketing Campaign

As you’ve seen, a lot of factors go into creating the perfect direct response marketing campaign. It can be overwhelming to be sure you’re doing everything you can to make it prosperous but there are some tools you can use to ensure your direct response marketing campaigns are more successful. 

Having a powerful ecommerce landing page builder is incredibly beneficial when it comes to the success of your campaign. Once someone views your advertisement and clicks on it or visits your site from a commercial, your landing page becomes the “salesperson.” The page becomes the representative of your company and the face of your product. But it doesn’t have to be hard to build the perfect landing pages.

Mojo is an eCommerce platform and landing page builder that offers easy, no-code building, unlimited testing options, and quick deployment. With no plug-ins, the all-in-one ecommerce platform helps you sell more, faster. The platform was built with speed in mind, automatically compressing and optimizing images, so pages load as quickly as possible.

Mojo offers free templates that are conversion-optimized and can be customized to keep your branding consistent across all your marketing. If you want more design abilities, the true WYSIWYG editor gives you complete control.

While competitor’s sites convert at less than 2%, Mojo sites, on average, convert at over 7%, with some clients approaching 30%. In all of 2020, the top 10 products by order volume on Mojo (which happen to be campaigns run by the largest direct response advertisers in the world) average 10% to nearly 20% conversion rates and totalled over $150,000,000 in sales!

But there’s more to the campaign’s success than just the conversion rate., Using Mojo’s built-in one-click upsell features to increase the average order value, these marketers generate enough sales to afford their massive advertising budgets.

With real human support and hundreds of integrations, including payment services, Google analytics, CRMs, and email platforms, Mojo will help you have the most successful direct response marketing campaign – and gain the most profits imaginable from your product.

By Greg Silvano

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