11/17/2020

The Evolution of Direct Response Advertising in the Digital Era

Featured posts | Insights

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Article at a Glance:

  • Consumers no longer want strictly transactional relationships with the brands they love – they want to feel like valued stakeholders.
  • Direct response advertising has evolved rapidly in recent years, and brands should utilize this to develop campaigns that will build stronger relationships with their customers.
  • No matter what forms of direct response advertising you use, the key is that you’re reaching out to customers on an individual level.
  • The ability to collect data on campaign performance isn’t just a way for marketers to hold themselves accountable – it’s also a way to learn about consumers and make future campaigns more effective.
  • It is crucial for brands to set their direct response campaigns apart. This begins with offering content that consumers will actually find useful.

The barriers between brands and consumers are toppling. Consumers no longer want strictly transactional relationships with the brands they love – they want to feel like valued stakeholders, which requires frequent engagement across multiple platforms. While it used to be impossible to forge personal connections with consumers in a wide array of different formats, technology has given brands the ability to communicate in a more intimate and direct way. 

In other words, brands have never had more ways to get the full benefit of direct response advertising. Brands have long understood the advantages of direct response advertising – it allows them to connect with consumers on a personal level, provides a clear call to action, and makes it easy to track the effectiveness of campaigns. But direct response advertising has evolved rapidly in recent years, and brands should use the digital resources at their disposal to develop direct response campaigns that will build stronger relationships with their customers. 

From actionable consumer insights to higher engagement rates, direct response advertising remains one of the best ways to interact with your customers. The brands that recognize this and use the increasingly powerful digital tools available to make these interactions even more productive will understand their customers on a deeper level, increase trust, and ultimately secure long-term brand loyalty. 

From actionable consumer insights to higher engagement rates, direct response advertising remains one of the best ways to interact with your customers. The brands that recognize this and use the increasingly powerful digital tools available to make these interactions even more productive will understand their customers on a deeper level, increase trust, and ultimately secure long-term brand loyalty. 

Treat consumers like individuals

When people see a TV ad or a billboard, they know countless other people are receiving the exact same message in the same way. While this sort of communication has its place (Super Bowl commercials, for instance), the demand for personalization has been surging. This doesn’t just apply to the products, services, and digital experiences consumers expect – it also applies to the way brands communicate with them. 

Many consumers regard engagement with brands through social media as a more accessible way of communicating. 

It’s no surprise that, according to a 2019 survey conducted by HubSpot, one of the most commonly used tactics for social media marketing is “direct messaging.” While email has long been used as a platform for direct response advertising, social media presents an opportunity to contact consumers in a less formal and more organic way. Many consumers also regard engagement with their favorite brands via social media as more accessible than through email or contact forms on websites. 

No matter what forms of direct response advertising you use – from email newsletters and other digital content offerings to social media messaging – the key fact is that you’re reaching out to customers on an individual level. This makes them feel personally addressed, which increases response rates and the chances that they will take action. 

Consumer insights and accountability

The ability to track the effectiveness of campaigns and gather reliable consumer insights are two of marketers’ top priorities. These are both areas where direct response advertising can be a tremendous asset. 

Direct response advertising often calls upon consumers to take a specific action: download a report, subscribe to a newsletter, use a promotion, etc. This immediately provides a clear measure of effectiveness, as it’s easy to track whether the desired action was taken or not. Brands and marketers can also examine other concrete indicators, such as open and response rates, time-on-page, and so on. There are many different email marketing platforms (such as MailChimp, HubSpot, and Campaign Monitor) that have built-in analytics capable of tracking a wide range of engagement metrics. Many social media platforms offer these services as well. 

The ability to collect data on campaign performance isn’t just a way for marketers to hold themselves accountable – it’s also a way to learn about consumers and make future campaigns more effective. How consumers engage with direct response campaigns can give brands and marketers invaluable information about their preferences and behaviors. This means they can experiment with different types of messaging to discover what works and what doesn’t. 

Maximizing the impact of direct response advertising

There are many different types of direct response advertising, and they often coincide with one another. For example, when a brand reaches out on social media, it can direct consumers to an email newsletter, trend report, or some other asset. Brands can also use digital communication platforms to get the information they need (such as addresses) to provide consumers with physical resources such as magazines, which can aid in information retention. 

At a time when consumers are being bombarded with digital ads and promotional emails every day, it’s crucial for brands to set their direct response campaigns apart. This begins with offering content that consumers will actually find useful – free reports about subjects they’re interested in, webinars and other opportunities for real-time engagement, and promotions that are based on a thorough understanding of consumers’ preferences. Creating audience segments based on these preferences allows brands to tailor the content to each segment, increasing the degree to which consumers feel that they are being addressed personally as individuals, in turn further increasing rates of engagement and other desired actions.

It’s also essential to follow up with supplementary materials, other suggestions, and calls to action. For example, if someone downloads a report or a whitepaper, they might be placed into a new audience segment altogether. A brand can then tailor the content and advertising for this segment to promote other learning opportunities, the possibility of speaking with an expert or attending a webinar, and so on. 

This sort of sustained engagement is also a way to gather more robust data. Whether your brand is using the analytics suites provided by communication platforms, conducting its own original surveys, or some combination of the two, data collection should be an integral part of any direct response campaign. But remember to always be transparent about what information you’re gathering and why. 

Brands have never been more connected with consumers, and this creates boundless opportunities to build trust. With an ever-expanding array of powerful engagement tools at their fingertips, brands and marketers need to think seriously about how they can make the most of those opportunities.

About the author

After beginning his career as a Wall Street analyst at J.P. Morgan, Samir joined Kobe Digital as a quantitative media analyst, and is now responsible for directing client media strategies to maximize returns.