According to Small Business Trends, "54 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in." They also say that over 150 million direct mail promotions were used in 2015.
The company and customer communities have decided together that direct response marketing is a standard part of business today. That means that to stand out, it's not enough to just do direct response marketing, you have to do it effectively.
Such a huge field can seem difficult to get started with, but with these 7 techniques, you'll be able to organize a powerful direct response marketing machine that connects you to your customers.
What is Direct Response Marketing?
Big companies spend billions of dollars on marketing, so it might seem impossible for a smaller business to even register in customers' heads. Direct response marketing allows smaller businesses to compete with big companies.
There are two main features that define direct response marketing. First, direct response marketing sends customers a message which is designed especially for them. Second, the message will include an invitation to take a specific action, like follow a link to a blog post, buy a product, or to receive future messages.
Direct mail is one of the biggest traditional ways to use direct response methods, and it's a large chunk of the industry. But modern techniques create more room to work with, room that hasn't been so saturated by established companies.
By using cutting edge techniques, small companies can reach customers in ways that no one else is. These other techniques include the use of email, twitter, and more.
A typical direct response marketing campaign might offer some kind of free service, like access to information or online tools. To provide free service to the customer, space is provided where customers can enter their email address.
Once you have potential customers' email addresses and they're thankful for the free service they've been provided, you have the opportunity to email them again with an offer.
With the right targeting and approach, that offer can remind these potential customers of your brand, make them even more pleased with the value you provide and take them one step closer to becoming real customers.
1. Use Phased Campaigns
Phased campaigns allow you to use an indirect, soft approach to sales that first establishes a relationship with your customers and makes their lives better before you ever ask them to buy something.
It may take several engagements before a customer feels comfortable to buy, and phased campaigns can provide all of those necessary engagements.
Direct response marketing is all about including a specific call to action in every contact, and phased campaigns are no exception. However, since phased campaigns use a slower approach to sales, the call to action in the first few engagements may not be invitations to buy something.
Instead, an initial contact might invite the recipient to view a blog post which details the benefits of a certain product.
If your contact has already expressed interest in a product, another message might invite them to follow up on their past activity. Another might provide a free coupon or access to an ebook.
There are many, many ways to provide value to customers and prepare them to appreciate the deals that you offer.
Remember that direct response marketing is also targeted, which means it only goes to people who it's designed for. You don't want to randomly offer a coupon to people who've never heard of your product, and you may not want to offer it to customers who have already bought your product.
Or, if you're offering access to an ebook or instructional program, you might target it specifically for people who have expressed interest in educating themselves, not just deliver the same invitation to every email address or contact you have in the system.
2. Appeal to Warm Audiences With Facebook Messenger Ads
The more you know about a person, the better you can make sure that your contacts are tailored to their interests and needs. Instead of sending someone something that they have no interest in, you can increase the odds that you're always sending material and offers to people that want to receive them.
Facebook Messenger collects excellent data which includes basic information about a person like where they live and what kind of content they engage with. If you're a brick and mortar business, then you may want to target specific people in your area, and the closer to your place of business the better!
Alternatively, you might want to talk to people who have an interest in nutrition or fashion. Whatever your ideal customer base may be, you can buy Messenger ads that speak to people directly instead of treating them like a generic citizen of the world.
You can also use other messenger apps like LINE, WhatsApp, and others. Many of these apps can also allow you to offer a messenger subscription to your contacts. Those that opt-in to receive content from you form a solid base of people that are familiar with your brand and can grow into future customers.
These opted in customers become a warm audience that you know will be more receptive to future offers than cold prospects.
3. Use a Referral Incentive Program
According to Business 2 Community, "referral marketing leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels." Some of the biggest companies in the world have appreciated the power of referrals, including PayPal, Airbnb, GrubHub, and others.
A referral system is really a win-win-win for every party involved. Your loyal customer gets a bonus product or cash reward for referring a new friend, your company receives a new customer, and your new customer gets to enjoy your fine products.
And maybe that new customer can even participate in the referral program themselves, multiplying the benefits for everybody!
Finding the exact right incentive to offer your customers can be tricky. Fortunately, we have the techniques of direct response marketing.
First, make sure to offer incentives based on what your customers care about. Different customers care about different things, so if one group of customers always buys a particular product, you might offer them a free sample of that or a related product. Other customers might respond better to cash rewards, which then brings up the question of how much to offer.
Keeping track of the value of a new customer can help you decide how much is appropriate to offer for a referral. As you begin a program, you can play with the amounts offered and keep track of the results in order to fine-tune your program to your needs.
4. Recruit With Direct Response Marketing
Sometimes, the results you can get from direct response marketing are about more than making sales. Companies need great employees in order to provide great service to their customers.
A direct response marketing style to recruitment might first identify the features of preferred and likely employees, and then specifically target those people. You can include a specific invitation to look more into your company, as well as provide some kind of value.
A guaranteed interview, sign-on bonus, or other offers can help drive people to act now.
5. Try Direct Mail
As more and more companies have adapted to modern marketing techniques, the old emphasis on physical direct mail has lessened. The direct mail market is no longer as saturated as it used to be, and can be a powerful tool to keep around, especially for older customers that may prefer to receive ads in the mail.
A new take on the direct mail system might send a paper ad to a prospect that invites them to take action online. Practically everyone uses the internet, but not everyone trusts it enough to sign up for things on it.
According to Canada Post, direct mail is easier to process, makes people remember your brand better, and drives more response than online contact.
A direct mail campaign can be a great way to get in touch with customers who are willing to sign up for your site, but who avoid responding to internet ads.
6. Use Direct Response Ads
Direct response advertising can be an effective tool to place on Facebook and other sites. Facebook dominates the market, and an ad there has the potential to reach many thousands or even millions of people.
On top of that, Facebook's connection with people allows for extremely powerful targeting so the right people get your ad. If you create a Facebook or other direct response ad, the key is to make the call to action as clear and accessible as possible.
If your ad invites people to learn more and just takes them to your website, then they know that responding will require leaving the site they're on, navigating an unfamiliar site, and probably several clicks and maybe some typing.
That may not seem like much, but compare it to an ad that allows you to stay on the site you're already on. This ad requires only a single click, and then you're done with it and can move on.
7. Use a Direct Response Campaign to Upsell
An existing customer can be as much as 14 times more likely to buy a product than a new prospect is. That means that your current customers should always be your go-to source of future sales.
Upselling is a common technique that can increase sales. There are two practices that people sometimes call upselling, but only of them is really upselling.
Upselling is when a customer is going to buy something, like a drink, and you offer them a larger or better version of the same item, like a larger drink. Since you already know they want a drink, you might guess that they'd like an even better drink as long as the price is right, so this is a great time to offer a special deal.
On the other hand, cross-selling is the correct name for offering a different product along with an existing sale. For example, if someone is buying a bike helmet, you might also offer a bike pump. Rather than offering the same type of item, you offer a different product that will plausibly make your customer's life better.
Both of these practices can be extremely effective, but if done wrong, they can also be annoying and turn off customers. Remember, a current customer can be 14 times more likely to buy again compared to a prospective customer, so your current customers are precious and should be treated respectfully.
The Right and Wrong Way to Upsell
In order to use an upselling or cross-selling practice correctly, it must remain a win-win for you and the customer. If you have an especially good deal, that can be a great candidate for an upsell offer.
On the other hand, if you're just going to offer someone the standard price on a bigger product that they probably already know about, you may just annoy them.
If you have an item that genuinely goes well with something your customer is buying, that can be the perfect time for a cross-sell offer. Maybe people buying bike helmets really do need bike pumps; your research can help you know what kinds of offers make sense.
But if a product is barely related, like a baseball helmet, then you're more likely to make your customers feel that you're just trying to get more money out of them. For them to feel that you are on their side, you must restrict yourself to deals that actually benefit both of you, not only you.
Remember, your current customers are your most valuable asset and should be treated with extreme respect and care.
Let Direct Marketing Techniques Drive Your Company to Success
We hope you learned something helpful about direct response marketing in this piece. To read more about marketing techniques, check out our other pages.
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