E-Mail Makes TV Ads Better

For most of my career, and to this day, I’ve been heavily involved in creating direct response TV ads, both short-form spots and long-form half-hour infomercials. In the last eight years, I’ve also create email campaigns. I’ve observed when email campaigns are delivered while TV commercials are running at heavy frequency levels, response rates are much higher, sometimes by a factor of 30 percent or greater.

That’s why recent cross-media research from Dynamic Logic didn’t surprise me. The company found TV combined with online promotions aided five different metrics agencies and advertisers use to measure TV commercials’ branding value:

  • Brand awareness measured 10.1 percentage points over unexposed baseline with TV only, but 15.1 with TV and online combined.
  • Message association was 12.5 with TV only and 19.9 combined.
  • Sponsorship association measured 12.7 with TV only and 28.4 combined.
  • Brand favorability was 3.1 with TV only and 6.2 combined.
  • Purchase intent was 5.0 with TV only and 5.4 combined.

Although none of these metrics measure actual purchases (I haven’t been able to find any research that does), I can tell you from our results if you’re a TV advertiser, a multifaceted online component is a campaign necessity. There are several reasons for this coordinated approach:

  • The consumer sees the TV spot but writes down the wrong phone number or URL.
  • The consumer sees the TV spot but can only remember the product name, not where or how to order it.
  • The consumer sees the infomercial but looks for the Web site by typing in the product or company name or an applicable search term, or types in the actual URL.

I wish everyone who wants to respond to a direct-response TV commercial would do so the same way, by calling the toll-free number or going to the proper URL. In reality, it doesn’t work this way. That’s why you need to cover all your bases. Some tips:

  • Make the look and feel consistent. Your email and landing page or Web site should have the same look and feel as the TV spot. People are reassured when email they receive has the same look as the Web site and spot.
  • Make the offer and price consistent. The offer and price must be the same across all media. If you’re testing price and/or offer in TV, create landing pages and email messages to match. Use trackable URLs so people get to the right page based on offer and price.
  • Repeat the commercial. Place a link to the spot in the email and on the landing page. Include copy such as: “Watch the TV Spot” along with the “As Seen on TV” logo.
  • Repeat animation. If a commercial has exciting animation showing how the product works, include it in your email and landing page in addition to the commercial. Some people will want to view only the animation.
  • Focus on the offer. People coming to your site or receiving your email who saw the TV spot are ready, or close to ready, to buy. Make it easy for them to find an order button. Don’t clutter your efforts with wasted copy.

Because so many consumers have their primary Internet computer and TV in the same room, and in many cases consume both media simultaneously, you might consider timing email drops with commercial airings. Say you have a national infomercial running between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. If you’re planning an email push, schedule it to arrive at 10:30 a.m. This will combine with TV for a one-two punch that increases response.

A note of caution concerning paid search: If you do paid search and run TV simultaneously, TV may increase your paid search expenses. If your bids are low, this won’t have a material effect. But if you’re bidding $0.50 or more per click, you need some additional analysis.

Using the same example of an infomercial running between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m., check to see if your paid click activity spikes during that time and immediately after. This will likely be a result of the TV commercial. If you incur an extra $100 in click charges, add that to the cost of the commercial and see if your cost per order or cost per lead is acceptable. It’s a hidden cost very few direct marketers are aware of.

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