What's on Tap...
A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

Are Your Direct Response Ads Actually Getting a Response?

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Apr 09, 2019 @ 10:00 AM |


Most SMBs don’t have the luxury of spending a ton in ad dollars to simply raise brand awareness. As CMOs face increasing scrutiny on how they manage marketing budgets, ROI becomes even more of a focus. This is why smart CMOs are turning their attention, and their ad spend, toward direct response advertising.

Direct response advertising drives immediate traffic or sales. And perhaps the biggest benefit is that these campaigns are far easier to track and measure than traditional branding ads. This is obviously priceless to cost-conscious marketers.

But along with the benefits of direct response ads come some important best practices. If your direct response ads haven’t been getting much of a response, you may be making some (or all) of the following mistakes.

Your Copy is Lackluster

Different pieces of marketing content have different jobs. While an article or blog post may be intended to educate consumers and a radio spot used to stay top of mind, a direct response print ad is designed to do one thing and one thing only: lead the consumer to take action RIGHT THEN AND THERE.

Your ad copy can elicit this response if it clearly lists the benefits to the consumer and uses a time-sensitive call-to-action (CTA). Don’t bother with product or service features – lead with benefits as this is what hooks consumers. Also, saying, “Save 20% off until Saturday” will drive people to take action now, as opposed to just offering a coupon that expires in a month or two.

You’re Not testing Your Ads

“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

~ David Ogilvy

Creating ads is akin to creating a good lasagna. You don’t just go with the first recipe you try. You keep testing and refining that recipe until you come up with a dish that makes grown men weep.

In order to maximize your ROI, you’ll need to continually test elements of your ad. Here’s your new chant: test, refine, optimize. Say it with me… test, refine, optimize.

You’ll want to test the wording of your heading, the benefits you list and their order, colors, imagery and calls-to-action. You’ll also want to test sections of the newspaper, radio time slots and overall media channels. If you’re working with a media buyer, he or she will keep track of this for you.

We can’t stress the importance of testing, particularly in direct response ads, enough.

You’re Not Tracking Your Campaign’s EffectivenessBusinesswoman standing with umbrella keeping orange arrow concept on background

If you have no tools in place to track and analyze your leads, then most of the money spent on your campaigns will be wasted. You’ve got to be able to figure out where your leads came from and if they are converting well or not. Once you’re able to track and analyze, create a report on your campaign’s performance so you may take actionable steps to correct what isn’t working.

You’re Not Crunching the Right Numbers

It’s important to always think about the long-term value of each customer so you can determine how much each lead you generate is really worth, as opposed to how much it took to gain. Try to think of ways you can pull even more revenue out of each lead, to keep your returns on the higher side. These figures should be factored into your upfront marketing costs so you can determine a realistic budget for each direct response campaign.

Once your campaigns have been launched, take another look at your metrics to be sure your financial projections on long-term customer value were correct.

You’re Not Communicating Clearly with Your Media Buyer

When branding is the goal of your campaign, you have a bit more time to see if the campaign has reached its objective. When immediate sales are the goal, as they are with a direct response campaign, and constant adjustment is critical to reach that ROI, keeping your media buyer in the loop with every change is essential.

Be sure to clearly communicate your expectations such as targets and budget with your buyer. Also, be open to feedback and any changes they may have. A good media buyer will have insights into which channels may offer more revenue potential.

Have you been making any of these common direct response mistakes? If so, make some adjustments and see if you don’t start converting more leads and improving your ROI.

Still need some help? Get in touch with us. We love helping SMB owners optimize their ad strategies so they can generate the kinds of leads and revenue that will help them scale their business.

media buying direct response Direct Response Marketing ROI