How new online tools and techniques can benefit from traditional direct response tactics

How new online tools and techniques can benefit from traditional direct response tactics

Published: June 22, 2011 by David Fabbri
Categories: Media, Website development


The marketing world has gone through some dramatic changes in the last decade. There are countless new tools offering incredible opportunity for marketers to reach their customers in new and exciting ways. But the opportunity comes at a price. PPC, SEO, CTR, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Orkut, StumbleUpon, Foursquare … nearly all marketing professionals have thrown their hands in the air at some point, and wondered, "How do we keep up?”

Did you forget something?

In an effort to stay out in front, we charge full-steam ahead—following this blog, watching that webinar, attending seminars and conferences—all to come up with our own strategies for integrating new tools and tactics. It's exciting to be doing something new and different, but what is sometimes lost in the rush, is attention to the fundamentals— integration of the tried and true.

The power of an offer

When it comes down to it, most online marketing is good, old-fashioned direct response advertising. We're trying to get someone to do something—to click, to buy, to join, to respond. If we want people to act, we need to give them an incentive. A compelling offer has always been a critical element of any successful direct response effort. It is important because it adds value and incentive.

Offer = Value = Incentive

Why should the viewer bother? Although money talks, the offer doesn’t have to be “20% OFF” or “Buy One Get One FREE.”  It could be membership in an exclusive group or access to something not available to the general public. The bottom line: If the target is going to act, he needs to feel there is something in it for him.

Turning up the heat

Another critical element of direct response is urgency. If your target feels the offer is available any time, then she has no reason to pull the trigger now. Maybe she’ll come back next week? Maybe next month? Maybe.

You've worked hard to get your audience’s attention. You have an offer they’re considering. The key is to make them feel that if they don't do it now, they‘ll miss out.

While a short expiration is an effective way to instill urgency, there are alternatives. To give your offer time for proper exposure, perhaps you might provide the offer until the end of the month, but give potential customers a bonus for acting now—a free month of membership for a friend, for example (which would also serve as a nice viral referral mechanism). Or perhaps you advertise the fact that the offer is only available in a limited quantity. Whatever it is, potential customers must see the value, feel like the stars have aligned and be inclined to act now.

Incentive + Urgency = ACTION

New online marketing channels provide more ways than ever to creatively reach and engage your target, but don't make the mistake of thinking everything has changed.  Basic motivations are the same as they were 10 years ago, just as they will be 20 years in the future. People act when they feel there is something in it for them and they don't want to miss out—online or off.

We want to know what you think. Have new online tools and techniques eliminated the need for traditional direct response incentives and calls to action?

David Fabbri is VP of Creative and Integrated Strategy at LoSasso Integrated Marketing, a Chicago based interactive agency specializing in content marketing strategies and customer acquisition for leading B2B and consumer brands.