Direct Response Marketing: 7 Essential Steps For Driving Optimum Results

Srajan Mishra
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Is compelling direct response marketing one of the best ways to maximize your return on investment (ROI)? Many businesses invest a lot of money into their marketing campaigns. How can you ensure that you get the results you're looking for?

If you’re looking to improve your ROI without increasing your marketing budget, implement the 7 steps laid out in this article. These steps will improve your returns in your next direct response marketing campaign.

What Is Direct Response Marketing?

Direct response marketing is a form of marketing that is:

  • Targeted to your potential (or existing) customers

  • Crafted to persuade prospects to take the desired action right now.

It is all about driving your target audience toward any business goal that you want fulfilled.

Does it always have to be a sale? No. It could be any action you want people to take. Sometimes it is a sale, but other times it's just to sign up for your newsletter or to visit your landing page.

Your direct response marketing campaign could be an advertising campaign on Google, enticing searchers to give you a phone call. It could be an email you send to your subscribers, informing them of your new article or asking them to watch your webinar.

With that said, let’s jump into the steps.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

The first step to any successful direct response marketing campaign is knowing your audience. Before you start crafting the details of your offer, you first need to decide who it is meant for.

Is your offer being sent to people who are likely to be interested? Or everyone under the sun? For best results, select the largest relevant segment of people who are most likely to be interested in your offer.

Tailoring your offer to a specific and defined group of people is more likely to:

  • Generate more interest

  • Get the maximum desired result (or any goal that you define)

  • Better ROI

Let’s say you visited a boutique clothing store while you were on vacation in Rome. And you bought an amazing, handcrafted shirt from there. A month later, you are at work in New York and you get an email from them. They are offering a staggering 50% off on their new summer line.

Isn’t that a compelling offer?

Well, it would be if you were in Rome or if they had international shipping options. Since none of that is true, what would you do? You would ignore it. Most likely you would unsubscribe too. Do you see why knowing your audience is important?

Segment your customers (or potential customers) based on factors such as their interests, location, behaviors, and age group. Set the criteria based on what is applicable to your business and your offer. Then target that segment who is more likely to be interested in your offer.

If you want to take it to the next level, create and target your ideal buyer personas. According to HubSpot, "A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It is based on market research and real data about your existing customers." They even offer a free persona generator on their website.

Of all the direct response marketing techniques, this first point is the most important.

2. Make a Compelling Offer

Now that you know who you want to target, look at what you are selling and how you are selling it. How are you going to offer it to your audience?

Are you just offering the product or some relevant freebies too? Maybe you have got a discount code that you want people to take advantage of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your offer:

Keep it specific: Define your desired outcome. You should focus on only one end goal. Your target audience must be clear on what they are going to get if they take action.

Make it easy to respond: You want to remove any roadblocks that can stop your audience from taking action. Make it straightforward. Give them multiple ways to respond. After reading your offer, your prospect must be sure what action they need to take.

Add giveaways: If applicable, throw in some bonuses that could add value to your offer as an added incentive for them to take action. It wouldn’t cost you a lot (or even nothing at all) to come up with some additional stuff. It will add to the perceived value of your offer.

Add a sense of urgency: If applicable, set a time limit for your offer. It could be a countdown timer that shows the time left before your offer expires. You could even highlight the consequences of not taking immediate action.

How you package what you sell is really important. Sometimes, a limited-time discount is enough to get you more sales. Sometimes, you need to sweeten the pot with a few valuable premiums. Adding social proof helps too.

The bottom line is you want your target audience to be incentivized to take action.

3. Craft Personalized Copy

Direct response marketing is all about personalization. The more personalized the message, the higher the chances of getting the desired response.

Aberdeen’s research says personalization improves customer experiences and generates business results. Marketers report 20% sales increases when using personalized experiences in emails.

So, how do you start with personalization?

For starters, your copy needs to be conversational. Write as if you are having a direct talk with the individual reading your message. The extent to which you can personalize your message depends on the platform.

What does that mean? Let’s look at some examples here:

  • When you write a Facebook ad, you can be conversational in your copy. But you can’t address a person reading your ad by their name.

  • When you write an email, you can use their name and write as if you are talking to a friend. You can be more specific to the individual reader.

  • When you interact with your audience using a chatbot, you are chatting with them one-to-one. This is a highly personalized form of communication.

Above are just three examples of various channels of communication available to talk with your audience. All of them are important to give your customers multiple touchpoints to interact with you. What you need to do is adopt the most personalized tone possible for that particular platform.

Did you know that sending irrelevant content to your audience can lower response rates by 83%? Dan Kennedy, one of the world’s highest-paid copywriters says, "Always enter the conversation already occurring in the customer’s mind."

Hence, data collection becomes key here. The more you know about the person, the more you can tailor your message directly to that specific person and hence increase the chances of them taking action.

Consider collecting information about your customers and website visitors through a non-intrusive on-site messaging tool like Hello Bar.

4. What’s in It for Them?

If you are looking to optimize your direct response marketing message, you need to make it clear to your audience how your offer will benefit them. Instead of focusing on features, highlight the hidden benefits.

Let’s say you have a raincoat company. You have launched a new raincoat that is made from the most amazing water repellent fabric available on the market. What do you think should be highlighted in your copy? The feature or the benefit?

Let’s look at it both ways:

Feature: Made with the best water-repellent fabric in the market.

That’s a great feature. Maybe you have put a lot of effort to source that fabric. You probably even manufactured it yourself. But does your audience really care about that? Well, maybe they do. You could totally tell them. However, let's compare that with the benefit.

Benefit: The person wearing it never has to worry about drying it.

Do you see the difference? No matter how small or big, your audience needs to see what’s in it for them. Only then would they want to take any action.

When you offer something, think about whether you are:

  • Saving their time?

  • Saving their effort?

  • Making something easier?

  • Laying it out for them step-by-step?

Your audience is much more likely to take action if you highlight how your offer solves a problem for them.

5. Clear and Strong CTA

Direct response marketing will be no good if there is no call-to-action or if it isn’t compelling enough. CTAs should be clear and strong. They should entice your audience into taking action. You could have your CTA in a direct form, second person or third person. I will explain with an example.

Let’s say you are an online fitness trainer. You send an email to your target audience which takes them to a landing page on your website. This landing page has got your amazing new workout plan laid out in a PDF. You are offering it at $79 (discounted to $49 for a limited time):

Direct CTA: Get The New Workout Plan

First Person CTA: I Want My New Workout Plan

Second Person CTA: Get Your New Workout Plan

Whatever type of CTA you decide to use, try to keep it consistent throughout. In some cases, you could sprinkle CTAs more than once. For example, your email could contain 2-3 versions of your CTA enticing people to take action. You could spread them out in the body copy of your email.

Let’s say you go with the Second Person CTA. You could use:

  • “Your New Workout Plan”

  • “Break Your Plateau Now”

  • “Get Your Dream Body”

Every CTA leads to the same page. But, you have mentioned different benefits to entice people to take action. You could also add something about your limited time offer as a CTA as well. Or highlight the benefit of fast action.

But remember not to go overboard with this. Overusing CTAs can affect the deliverability of your email and become an obtrusive experience for your reader. They may just ignore your email.

6. Track and Measure Your Efforts

No direct response marketing campaign can be complete without tracking your efforts. It answers the simple question: How is your copy performing? How many people are taking action?

Let’s go back to the previous example of the online fitness trainer. This time you run a Facebook ad that directs people to that same landing page on your website. You can use tools such as Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics to track:

  • How many people clicked on your ad

  • How many people actually bought your plan as a result of the ad

  • Whether your offer was enticing enough

  • How many people abandoned their cart

These questions cover only the tip of the tracking iceberg. You should go as granular with tracking as possible.

It doesn’t mean that you have to run a Facebook ad to track actions. You can do the same if you send an email. Email applications such as Mailchimp provide similar tracking options. You could also use tools like Hotjar to see screen recordings and clicking patterns of your website visitors.

Why should you track your direct response marketing campaigns? So you can improve them to get better results and further optimize ROI. That takes us into the next step.

7. Test and Tweak: Rinse and Repeat

As you know, the goal of any direct response marketing campaign is to get people to take action. By tracking, we get to know what works and what doesn’t. If it worked, how well it worked? If it didn’t, why not?

That takes us to the next step: testing and tweaking. What can you do to improve? You take all of that tracking information and use it to better your results. Run multiple campaigns. See what is getting a better ROI. Then further test on what turns out to be the most cost-effective.

Let's go back to the previous example. Did your email get you more sales? Or was it the Facebook ad that got those results? You could go even deeper and test different subject lines in your email. Maybe you could try out different email copy altogether.

You could split test different Facebook ads to see which performed better. Maybe an image change could lead to increased CTR. You could experiment with different headlines. The same goes for your landing page. Split test and experiment with different layouts and CTAs.

You see direct response marketing is an ever-evolving and continuous process. What you need to do is establish a baseline and keep trying to improve it.

Whenever A/B testing, remember to keep only one variable so you can better monitor what exactly is getting you better results. Observe what is enticing your audience to take action so you get more sales.


Direct response marketing is a great way for businesses to come in front of their target customers. You don’t have to wait around for your audience to learn about your company.

With multiple online channels (social media, email, etc.) available today, you can see immediate results. Use those results to see what works so you can do more of the same. Then try to better it and cut your spend on what doesn’t work.

If you follow the above steps, then you are sure to get better results in your direct response marketing campaigns. You don’t even have to increase your marketing budget to implement them. One option is to hire a direct response copywriter.

Remember, this is a continuous process. So keep testing and optimizing.

For the best return on your marketing budget, consider hiring a professional direct response copywriter today.

Srajan Mishra

Srajan Mishra is an entrepreneur and a certified copywriter, passionate about crafting compelling, converting, and scalable copy. He brings leadership, management, marketing, SEO, graphic and website design experience to the table. He has contributed to articles on, Insider, Capterra, Databox, Omnisend, etc. He loves working out, studying world history, and is into bespoke suits.

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