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What Is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing is designed to earn an instant response from consumers to a call-to-action embedded in the marketing message. Whether immediate sales or lead generation, successful direct response marketing campaigns create immediate action from those targeted by them. This is why direct response should definitely be considered in your marketing strategy.

What Is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing is a type of marketing strategy where the main goal is to encourage an immediate response from consumers in order to quickly generate new sales and leads. The response can be any call-to-action (CTA) such as visiting a website, landing page, signing up for a lead magnet, making a purchase or even just sharing a post on social media.

While direct response marketing messages can effectively raise brand awareness for certain types of products and services depending on where they exist in their lifetimes, the goal of any true direct response marketing campaign is to earn immediate return on investment (ROI).

While marketers can create direct response campaigns on various media, including radio, print, OOH, digital, and more, the most widely recognized direct response marketing success stories come from direct response television (DRTV). With a good product, an enticing offer, great creative, and a persuasive call-to-action, direct response marketing campaigns allow marketers to understand their success (or failure) more quickly than any other marketing method.

How To Be Successful With Direct Response?

Among the key elements of any direct response marketing ad, no matter the medium:

  • A focus on the customers wants, needs, and issues. If you’re not addressing the customer about making their life better or easier, a direct response campaign will have one strike against it.

  • Urgency and scarcity is also crucial in messaging to increase response rates. “While supplies last,” “Call in the next 20 minutes,” and “This special offer expires in 48 hours,” are all examples of language that can drive urgency.

  • Strictly targeted media allows for a more personalized message that can help you achieve the customer focus noted above.

  • A compelling, clear, and direct call-to-action (CTA). Don’t muddle the message. If you’re trying to close a sale, ask for it. If you’re trying to generate a lead, ask the consumer to take the next step to drive that lead.

Key Benefits of a DR Campaign

Beyond the immediacy of response, quick understanding of ROI, and more, direct response marketing’s initial benefits are clear. But wait — there’s more:

  • It’s trackable and measurable. Direct response ads are designed for marketers to see exactly how many prospects and leads come from each campaign. That makes it easier for marketers to optimize campaigns as they go, reallocating resources to the media and messaging that is working to drive results.

  • Marketers create their own lifetime customers to whom they can deliver recurring value. Opted-in clients are nearly invaluable to marketers. These folks have already raised their hands to show interest in your message and brand.

  • And once they’ve done that, you have a direct line of communication with them about new products, upsells, and more. These prospects are now customers who want to hear from you about information they will find useful — and actionable.

Examples of Successful Direct Response Campaigns

Who’s had success with direct response marketing? You might think immediately of old-school “As Seen on TV” marketers — and you would not be wrong. But big brands have either built their businesses — or expanded their successes via direct response. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Snuggie

  • Pillow Pets

  • Proactiv Solution

  • P90X

  • Dollar Shave Club

  • Blue Apron

  • Casper

  • Bombas

  • Bark Box

  • Instacart

  • Nutrisystem


  • And more …

The Performance-Driven Marketing Institute (PDMI) is the association for performance and direct-to-consumer marketing leaders. It is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and advancing its members in the performance-driven and direct-to-consumer marketing world through networking, education, advocacy, and marketing.

Want to become a member? Click here to learn more about PDMI.


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