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What is direct response marketing? [Examples and techniques]


Feb 2, 2018
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There are lots of options when it comes to marketing your Knowledge Commerce business. Direct response marketing offers a convenient, low-cost option that often produces rapid responses from consumers.

“Direct response marketing offers a convenient, low-cost option that often produces rapid responses from consumers. #Kajabi” — Tweet this!

Many marketing strategies are designed to promote a brand and make it more appealing to consumers. Television advertisements and content marketing are two prime examples.

However, sometimes you need a marketing approach that elicits sales quickly and helps you build momentum. That's what direct response marketing is for.

You can use direct response marketing no matter your industry or niche. Furthermore, you don't have to spend a ton of money to generate results. In fact, many direct response approaches require no financial investment at all.

But what exactly is direct response marketing? What channels are most effective? What are the best techniques to use for this type of campaign?

We're going to answer all of those questions and more. Plus, we'll give you a few examples of successful direct response marketing campaigns that you can model for your own business.

What is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing is a marketing tactic that demands a quick response from consumers who are exposed to it.The goal with direct response marketing is to convince consumers to call a number, visit a website URL, or take some other desired action.

If you have ever stayed up late in front of the television, you have likely seen one of the most popular forms of direct response marketing. The infomercial allows entrepreneurs access to consumers who might want to buy their products.

During an infomercial, the person who is pitching the product mentions the call to action several times over the course of the program. A phone number or web address often appears on screen at all times, and viewers know exactly what they need to do to buy the product.

Infomercials work particularly well because entrepreneurs can demonstrate their products for consumers and provide riveting entertainment designed specifically for the target audience. The same goes for programs on the Home Shopping Network and similar stations.

You can also use direct response marketing through other mediums. It's certainly not exclusive to television. In fact, digital marketing and a direct response format often works better than an infomercial or a spot on QVC.

What Are Some Useful Direct Response Marketing Techniques?

As mentioned above, you have lots of options when it comes to direct response marketing. However, you need to have strategies in place to increase your odds of generating sales.

Consumers don't buy a product just because you tell them to. They buy because you tell them to you and because you give them a compelling reason to pull out their wallets.

You have to know your audience intimately and understand what motivates them to purchase. Otherwise, you'll simply waste time and money on a marketing campaign that never produces any results.

But we have you covered. The following qualities of the direct response marketing campaign are essential for achieving her goals. If you make sure that your campaign follows these techniques, you're very likely to generate revenue that far exceeds any money you spent.

Make Responding to the Offer Simple

Today's consumers prefer simplicity over everything else. They don't want to jump through hoops even if it's to get a product they really want.

Knowing this, make sure that you give your viewers or audience an easy way to order your product or take any other desired action. There is a reason why infomercial producers use 1-800 numbers. They're often easy to remember, and all viewers have to do is dial and listen.

You can also direct consumers to your website, a social media channel, or anywhere else. Just make sure that prospective customers won't have any reason to abandon the process because it's either time-consuming or difficult.

Let's say, for example, that you send customers to a page on your website with a form they need to fill out. You want to capture their names, email addresses, and payment information.

Make sure you don't ask for any unnecessary information. If you don't need to know the customer's gender, for example, leave it out of the form. Every new form field adds another layer of complexity to the transaction and increases the chances that the customer will simply opt out of the sale.

Give Specific Directions to the Consumer

Just as you want to keep the direct response marketing process as simple as possible, you likewise want to leave no doubt in the consumer’s mind about what you want him or her to do. Make the directions simple and specific.

Do you want prospects to call a specific number? Repeat it several times and tell the customer what to expect after dialing. Are you directing prospects to your sales page? Repeat the URL often and make sure you explain the process for buying one of your digital products.

The more specific you are, the less confusing your pitch becomes. Consumers don’t want to spend half an hour figuring out how to sign up for your new online course. They want to complete the transaction quickly and move on.

Additionally, don’t confuse prospects with multiple CTAs. Direct response marketing works best when there is one offer on the table and one set of directions to follow.

Hold a Contest or Giveaway

In today’s crowded, saturated marketplace, capturing consumer interest can prove difficult — even with direct response marketing. To grab your target market’s attention, consider hosting a contest or giveaway.

Maybe you’re holding a webinar for interested consumers. You could announce at the beginning that you’ll give away one month of free access to your membership site at the end to a random participant. You can also announce the giveaway prior to the webinar to encourage people to sign up and attend.

Giveaways are effective even for people who don’t “win.” They will see the product as something of value and might decide to buy it if they don’t get it for free. Additionally, they will consider your business generous and giving, which are great qualities for any brand.

Add a Time Limit to the Offer

Time-bound offers work particularly well in direct response marketing. People respond well to urgency because of the fear of missing out.

Nobody wants to know that they missed the opportunity to get a product for half of the normal price, for example. They would rather make a hasty decision and buy the product now then risk feeling disappointed at a later date.

If you have ever watched a program on QVC or a similar station, you have seen me time-bound strategy at work. You only have until the products run out to make your own purchase. If you wait too long, you miss your chance to get the product at the advertised price.

Consumers are naturally averse to missing out on things that they perceive as valuable. That's why coupons, sales papers, and emails with discount codes often have expiration date. It lets the consumer know that the offer won't last forever.

What Direct Response Marketing Channels Are Most Effective?

We have already talked about infomercials, but you have many more options in terms of channels for direct response marketing. The right channel depends on the type of offer that you are presenting, the audience you are targeting, and other variables specific to your business and industry.

Ideally, you'll choose the channel that will reach the most potential customers and inspire the most conversions. However, you might have to face certain limitations, such as cost.

It's far more expensive to run a television commercial then to send a drip email campaign. The commercial might generate more response from the public, but you have to weigh it against the amount of money you need to spend.

Let's take a look at a few of the most effective direct response marketing channels so you're familiar with how they work and what they can do for your business.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing refers to any marketing campaign that takes place via digital devices.For instance, blogging is a form of marketing, but it's not necessarily an example of direct response marketing.

To use digital marketing for direct response, you need a way to not only reach your target audience with a time-bound offer, but also a way to track the results in real time.

For instance, you might use social media advertising to promote a limited-time cost for one of your online courses. A Boosted Facebook post, for example, is measurable, trackable, and capable of giving a clear CTA.

Other examples of direct response digital marketing could include hosting webinars, running search ads, creating a podcast, and hosting a Twitter chat. Each of these digital channels allows you to create an offer to which your audience must immediately respond.

Email Marketing

Here at Kajabi, we’re big fans of email marketing. It’s an extremely inexpensive way to reach your audience no matter how big it becomes. It is also an ideal channel for direct response marketing.

Let's say, for example, that you have just created an online course. If you have segmented your email list based on buyer personas, you can choose a list of people who would be interested in the course you just made.

You can send one email or a list of drip emails to that list with the goal of generating sales of your online course. You could offer a discount for three days after you send the first email to elicit a faster response.

You have to make sure, though, that the people on your list actually open and read your emails. If you use spammy or unattractive subject lines, for example, people will likely delete your email without even opening it.

In direct response marketing, subject lines should exhibit both urgency and appeal. In as few words as possible, tell the recipients what they can expect to find inside the email.

Direct Response Mail

Believe it or not, people still enjoy receiving postal mail. They don't like junk mail, though, so if you want to use postal mail for direct response marketing, make sure that the literature you send won't irritate the recipients.

In most cases, this means making an offer that most of your audience couldn't possibly refuse. If you knock enough money off the "list price" of your online course or have enough bonus materials to the original offer, your target audience will race right to the nearest computer or digital device and visit your sales page.


Direct response television has not become less effective the advent of the Internet. People still watch lots of TV and enjoys shopping based on what they see.

The most common form of direct response television is the commercial. A commercial consists of between 30 seconds and two minutes of recorded promotional content.

However, it's important to note that television commercials are costly. This is especially true if you're not targeting a specific geographical location.

If you don't have the cash to pay for a television commercial, you can consider alternatives like radio and print. Just realize that those mediums won't produce as many sales as television.

Direct Sales

Sometimes, the best marketing occurs when you put boots on the ground. If you get out into the real world and the people in person, you can generate more sales than you lead by connecting with them online.

Direct sales refers to a direct response marketing technique that puts you right in front of your target audience. Attending conferences, trade shows, and other industry events allows you to meet people face-to-face and get to know their needs.

It doesn't become direct response marketing until you make your offer and direct consumers to the best way to fulfill that offer. You can do this from a booth at a trade show or a table at a conference, but shall have more luck if you speak at the event and direct people to meet with you after your speech and sign up to buy for your digital products.

What Makes a Direct Response Ad Compelling Enough to Drive Conversions?

Now that you are familiar with the different channels available for direct response marketing, how can you increase your chances of converting prospects into customers? After all, there's no reason to participate in direct response marketing if you can't generate a return on investment.

While it's not much fun to follow a blueprint in terms of marketing, you don't want to reinvent the wheel either. Taking inspiration and understanding best practices based on what has worked for other businesses will make your direct response marketing far more effective.

If you're thinking about engaging in direct response marketing, make sure that you follow these best practices and techniques to get the most out of your efforts.

You Can Track the Progress and Results

The great thing about direct response marketing is that you know exactly how well it works. You can easily track the success of every campaign and compare it against other campaigns to learn what works best and what doesn't.

For instance, let's say that you are using search advertising as a direct response marketing campaign. Your ad promotes a 20% discount on your biggest online course and gives viewers just 24 hours to take advantage of it.

You can direct prospects to a specific landing page on your Kajabi website that you use only for this specific campaign. That way, you'll know which of your sales came from the ad based on who buys your course via that landing page.

This is why 800 numbers often change between different infomercials. Entrepreneurs can use that tactic to find out which sales came from which infomercial.

It’s Easy to Measure Success

Since you are able to track the sales from a direct response marketing campaign, you can easily measure its success. Based on the number of sales you generate from a specific campaign, you can decide whether or not it's cost-effective to repeat it.

Split-testing becomes extremely important in direct response marketing. Run two or more different campaigns at the same time, changing just one variable to see which ad or other promotion proved most effective.

The Copy Is Optimized for Persuasion

Many direct response marketing campaigns involve written copy. Perhaps you are sending an email newsletter or a direct mail postcard.

Either way, you must optimize every word of the copy for your intended goal. This is particularly true when it comes to headlines and CTAs.

Headlines, for example, should guide the reader through the copy. Ideally, they should hint at the information found in the copy below, but generates curiosity and fail to give everything away. In other words, headlines should keep people reading no matter how much copy is on the page.

Similarly, CTAs should be simple, direct, and succinct. Don't leave anything to the imagination. If you want people to buy your online course, a CTA might look something like this: "Buy this online course in the next 48 hours to save 30%."

Don't use metaphors, similes, or clever witticisms. Your job is to sell your digital product — nothing else.

You’re Targeting a Particular Buyer Persona

While it might seem tempting to target as broad an audience as possible, direct response marketing works best when you have a specific buyer persona in mind. If your product and offer are custom tailored to that persona, you'll get more interest from the audience and generate more sales.

This doesn't mean that you have to neglect other buyer personas. It simply means that every direct response marketing campaign you run should focus on a single persona. You can run other campaigns for other personas so you don't leave any member of your audience out.

This could be as simple as targeting beginners versus advanced members of your audience. For instance, if you teach online courses in photography, you wouldn't market beginners-level course to pros.

However, you can also take more detailed information from your buyer personas into account. These details could include income, gender, profession, geographical location, and more.

You Make a Specific Offer

A direct response marketing campaign only works if you make a specific offer. He wants just asking people to buy one of your products. You're asking them to buy a specific product.

Not only that, but you are also adding a specific discount or other promotion to sweeten the deal and encourage conversions. Without a tempting offer, you might as well not bother with the campaign at all.

Other specifics to include in your campaign include the time restrictions, any giveaways, and information about your target audience. The more you refine your offer, the more sales you will generate

The Consumer Must Respond Right Away

We’ve already talked about time-bound offers, but they warrant another mention. Without a deadline or expiration date, your offer becomes far less tempting.

Consumers will assume that they can return to your website and take advantage of the offer at any time. Since they lead busy lives, those consumers will likely forget altogether. That’s never good for business.

Make it clear that your offer extends only for a limited time and that failing to respond immediately could result in the loss of the offer. It’s this fear that drives direct response marketing.

You Have Opportunities to Follow Up With Multiple Touchpoints

The best direct response marketing campaigns give you opportunities to follow up with people who convert. You capture their email addresses and other contact information so you can check in with them and provide them with excellent customer service.

Plus, you’ll get the chance to upsell them or cross-sell to them later.

You Can Get in Touch With People Who Didn’t Convert

You can’t convert everyone. Don’t feel badly. However, you can use direct response marketing to capture information even from people who don’t convert.

This is easy enough with email marketing. You’ll know which of your subscribers responded to the offer and which didn’t. Plus, you already have contact information.

However, it becomes more difficult when you’re using DRTV or some other method of marketing.

Consider inviting people to sign up for your email list or to visit your blog. You’ll then have a chance to capture their contact information at a later date.

Direct Response Examples

If you pay attention, you’ll see examples of direct response marketing all around you.

Have you ever visited a warehouse store, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, for example? On weekends, in particular, these stores set up booths and tables where employees give away free samples.

What’s the point? Sales. People get to try the product — if they like it, they often pick up the product right then and there.

You’ll also see direct response marketing in your mailbox. IKEA, for example, once sent out its annual catalog with a folded, popup version of its popular LACK coffee table inside. The goal of the campaign was to illustrate the ease with which consumers could assemble IKEA products.

Use Kajabi to Turn Your Knowledge and Content Into Products You Can Sell

Kajabi allows you to create your digital products and market them with ease — all without leaving the platform. From direct response marketing to content marketing, we can help you get the word out about your Knowledge Commerce business.

We believe that everyone has knowledge they can sell. Whether you’re an expert event planner, an accomplished pianist, or a spiritual advisor, you can sell what you know and find an audience for your work. Online courses and other digital products have become the wave of the future, so there’s no reason to put it off any longer.

Once you’ve decided to start a Knowledge Commerce business, though, you have to promote it. Our Kajabi Heroes have worked hard to spread the word about their digital products, and those efforts have paid off. Direct response marketing offers a convenient way to do just that.

You can host a webinar directly from Kajabi, for example, and encourage your audience to buy your brand new online course while you’re talking to them in real time.


Direct response marketing isn’t dead. Just because newer, shinier alternatives have become available, the urgency and excitement of direct response will never allow it to go away completely.

In fact, the Internet has made it easier than ever to connect with your audience and share with them a specific, trackable offer.

To succeed in direct response marketing, you must have a simple procedure that prospects can follow to take advantage of the promotion. Additionally, you’ll need to give clear directions about how to cash in on the offer.

Consider holding a contest or giveaway to generate excitement. Just make sure that there’s a time limit on the offer. Otherwise, consumers will have no motivation to act right away.

You can pursue direct response marketing through many channels, from digital and email marketing to direct response mail, DRTV, and direct sales. Just focus on making every ad as compelling as possible.

It should be measurable, trackable, and optimized for persuasion. Target a specific buyer persona with each offer and make sure prospects know that they must respond right away. As long as you follow those best practices, you’ll generate sales.

Have you tried direct response marketing? How has it worked for you?

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