What Online Marketers Can Learn From Direct Response TV

Direct response television (DRTV) advertising brings to mind golden oldies compilations, endless hawkers on 24/7 shopping networks, and late-night paid programming. But DRTV is much more than that. It’s one of the few ad forms where performance is immediate and measurable. If the phones don’t ring or online shopping carts don’t keep checking out, the ads get pulled. Over the years, marketers have gained an extraordinary knowledge of what does and doesn’t sell across :30 spots, shopping networks, and infomercials.

10 DRTV Tactics Online Marketers Can Use

  • Create a unique or enhanced offering. Promote unique products with features that can’t be found elsewhere. Often DRTV offerings contain added benefits, usually from related products, allowing marketers to price products differently. Offer products together that make sense to your consumers. Think broadly since product enhancements may include additional information or support.

  • Increase sales with related or replenishment product. Many products sold using DRTV ads are the initial offering in a series of products or require product refills. Consider packaging and selling products as part of a series. Can you offer customers a service by sending updates or refills?
  • Present product demonstrations. DRTV ads show how the product works or the results achieved using the product. The subtext is, “Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.” These offers often have a money-back guarantee to overcome potential objections. What does your Web site do to provide prospects with an enhanced understanding of your product? Use multiple product views, close-ups of product detail, and photographs with different colors.
  • Provide product endorsements using real people, often celebrities. Incorporate customer comments into your copy. Collect customer endorsements through your Web site. Alternatively, companies such as Bazaarvoice provide consumer comments to help convert sales.
  • Use a strong call to action (CTA). DRTV ads have a clear CTA that’s given early and repeated often. Frequently, the phone number and Web site address appear at the bottom of the screen. Your site should have a clear CTA and use headlines, buttons, or both to attract attention and direct prospects into the buying process.
  • Create a sense of urgency to overcome inertia. “Call in the next 60 minutes. Our operators are standing by.” This urges customers to respond while the product is top of mind and they’ve got a desire buy. Motivate online customers to act now by adding deadlines to special pricing or create online-only offers to drive prospects to buy.
  • Do not offer free shipping and handling. Unlike many online merchants who consider free shipping and handling a cost of doing business, DRTV marketers always add these fees. Enhance your promotion so consumers feel they’re getting a good deal without free shipping and handling. Many customers will research to ensure they’ve gotten a reasonable price. Assess your overall offering to determine if there are ways to give customers this sense. Check your shopping process to see if customers leave to view other sites.
  • Offer multiple response channels, including phone, Web, and mail. Let customers decide how they want to interact with you. Do you force customers to only purchase online since it’s most effective for you? Are you losing potentially profitable sales by limiting response channels?
  • Use telemarketers to capture and upsell customers. Since operators are well-trained and have incentives, they have higher conversion rates and can be cost-effective. Once they’ve completed the sale, telemarketers often augment the customer’s order with additional offers. Have strategies to deter e-mail customers who leave merchandise in their shopping carts. To upsell, use product pages or the shopping cart process to sell related merchandise. Send post-purchase thank-you e-mail that sells related products.
  • Build a house file with postal addresses. While many online retailers understand the need to build an e-mail address house file, they haven’t necessarily considered the value of postal addresses. Use your postal house file. Physical addresses allow you to contact prospects and customers after they’ve unsubscribed from your e-mail list. Your house file of past purchasers can also be a source of list-rental income.

Monitoring DRTV Metrics

What makes DRTV advertising so effective is marketers’ ability to monitor results and pull on the fly advertisements that aren’t working. Some of the salient metrics to measure to ensure your online campaign stays on track include:

  • Media spend. Monitor the cost of advertising spent, including search marketing to drive traffic.

  • Response. Track response to ads and calculate the response rate.
  • Conversion rate. If you have a product requiring multiple steps to purchase, measure conversion rates.
  • Revenue. Monitor sales created by the advertising. Also track related product sales.
  • Contribution margin. To the extent you’re promoting a single identifiable product or product line, constantly compare its contribution margin (revenue less cost of goods sold) to the cost of the dedicated advertising. Constantly shift ad dollars to the products and advertisements generating the highest returns.
  • House file. Assess the size of your house file. Track both e-mail and postal addresses.

The next time you see a DRTV ad, think about how it effectively keeps working to get viewers to purchase, often on impulse. Then consider how to apply some of the most effective selling features to your online advertising.

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