Digital Marketing and Direct Response: How to Use both for Increased Conversions


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Digital marketing technology concept. Internet. Online. Search Engine Optimisation. SEO. SMM. Video Advertising.

In marketing, two standard approaches dominate the industry: direct response marketing and brand marketing. Digital brand marketing is a no-brainer. Any slogan you can think of right now is an example of digital marketing.

Slogans like “Have a Coke and a smile,” “Get out there,” and “da-da-da-da-dahh-I’m lovin’ it” conjure a picture of the matching businesses in your mind.

Those slogans make you remember a company very well. However, name recognition is only half the battle in the marketing war.

Direct response marketing looks states an audience problem or challenge, and offers a solution. Further, a direct response asks for concrete action from the audience.

Brand marketing is about building trust and recognition. Direct response marketing takes the trust factor one step further and asks for a specific engagement or a sale.

5 Characteristics of Digital Brand Marketing

When creating a successful digital marketing campaign, consider the following factors. Whether you’re using social media platform, email marketings, or an omnichannel approach, here are the critical things to include.


Time your campaign for relevance in the lives of your audience members. Encourage a strong connection with your products. People buy what they trust.

Creating a sense of urgency is beneficial to your campaign as well. Your customers should feel they need to act, or they might get a severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.) If you set a beginning and an ending to your sale, launch, or special, you’ll gain more engagement.


Create a sense of ownership in your customer base with your marketing campaign. Asking for feedback, reviews, or help with a beta test are all examples of ownership opportunities. Providing options for customer participation in your brand activities, which includes direct response, can elicit more audience engagement.

Next, create permanent resources. If your brand is to survive and thrive, you’ll need longevity. Products that stand the test of time and services that keep delivering benefits create a sense of reliability with your audience.


Hashtags, post-sharing, reviews, blogs, rewards, and other relevant content give your audience a way to engage with and become part of your brand.

When a customer likes your thing, you need to give them some ways to share the love and the potential for increased sales.


Customers want to trust the companies that get their dollars. Show off your data in many project areas. Be public about the people you help, the communities and organizations you support and back up your claims with metrics.

For example: “We’ve raised 50K for our favorite charity with our product sales this year! Help us help more people when you purchase our product” is a great way to boost yourself and your good works at the same time.

If you have goals you want to reach, share them!  Audiences love seeing scrappy startups selling relevant, leading-edge, and reliable products turn into success stories. Put your metrics out there and ignite your meteoric rise.


We’re not talking fairy tales and legends. But, you want to connect your audience to your brand story instead of selling all the time.

Eliciting real emotions from people is achievable with a clear and relatable story. Tell your customers where you’ve been, why you’re doing what you do, and where you want to go.

You must also tell the story of your customer in your narrative as well. Remember, you are the guide, the assistor, the teacher, the wizard, and the customer is the hero in the end.

4 Characteristics of Direct Response Marketing

So, how do we begin a direct response marketing campaign? Here are four critical elements of the direct response strategy.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

A Call to Action tells the customer precisely what you want them to do next. If your customer directive is a call, sign-up, buy, email, or any other action, you’ll need to speak or write the command clearly.


Your direct response ad must have a response objective and state it right out front.

In the case of Just Do It, the follow-up question might be, “just do what?” In direct response, the customer can see which email address, website, or purchase button they need to click to do the thing you’re asking them to do.


The benefit of a direct response campaign is data. When you give your audience a command, you can see accurately who is responding and how often it happens.

You can use the data you collect to further target or segment your audience in future campaigns. Intuitively, you’ll repeat the CTA’s that give you strong engagement metrics, and you’ll chuck the ineffective CTA’s in upcoming ads.

Ample Information

A direct response marketing campaign should provide the prospect with enough information to make a decision.

Be sure your unique value proposition (UVP) meets the needs of your target audience. Then, give them sufficient information in your ad to be able to take the next step with your company.

Perhaps you invite them to subscribe to your list or take advantage of a free trial. Be sure to let them know precisely what their benefit is for giving you their email address, or trying your service.

Combining Digital Marketing and Direct Response

Combing both Digital Marketing (brand recognition and trust-building), and Direct Response (ads with a strong CTA) are the 1-2 punch of strong marketing strategies.

Direct response is an incredibly useful approach. When combined with your brand recognition strategy, you’ll generate more customers and increase revenue, with efficient investment of time and capital.

Connection and action go hand in hand.

If you’re advertising with digital marketing but have not added in direct response, now’s the time to start creating your CTA’s.

If you’ve been sending out your commands left and right but are getting no bites, you’re probably not connecting with your audience.

When the latter is the case, you must continually go back and mine for data on your target customer base. Find out their priorities, challenges, status symbols, trends, and more.

Create a workable buyer persona for several of your “typical” customers, and then get to work creating copy that pushes their buttons and makes your company pop into mind.

After building your brand recognition platform, begin to weave in your CTA’s and invite your audience to get a little more serious about you with an action you can track.

Go forth and sin no more (in marketing.)

When you create your advertisement, there are several “glamour don’ts” to avoid. The last thing you want is your ad or message to end up in inbox purgatory. Here’s a list of marketing gaffes that will tank your ad from the beginning.

  1. No metrics. For your campaign to succeed, data mining is of utmost priority. Knowing where your soulmate clients hang out and how they learn about stuff they want to buy is essential to your advertising success. If your audience is men over 65, they are likely not so much on Instagram for example. You’ll need to dig around for the digital or other mediums that reach them where they are.
  2. Marketing in a Silo. No matter the size of your marketing department, communication is key with all stakeholders. Drop your ego and get feedback and buy-in from your whole team, no matter how awesome your advertising ideas appear to be.  Creating shared goals and action-step schedules as part of a detailed strategic marketing plan works just as well for Mom-and-Pop shops as it does in large corporations. Make a marketing plan and stick to it. Communicate clearly with your customers through running surveys, researching data, phone calls, or emails. Even after the product is established and sales are steady, you’ll still need continuous customer satisfaction to stay relevant.
  3. No Audience Segmentation. Every customer base has several types of people in it. You’ll need to drill down to who those people are and what makes them tick. Your digital messaging should be specific to the wants and needs of each group you serve. Though your branding should have a certain consistent vocabulary, you’ll likely have three or more customer archetypes that respond to your products and services. Your direct response ads should address each type of customer separately and effectively.
  4. No Process for Experimentation. Instead, start small, spend little, and gather data. You’ll need to allow an experimentation period to determine which ad methods and channels work well for your brand. You can see which of your methods are working early on before spending tons of money on huge campaigns. Put your advertising dollars where they will net you the most return by starting small and compiling outcomes.
  5. “Spray and Pray” Marketing. Some companies cast too wide a net in their advertising. Instead, thoughtfully set an objective for each ad campaign, and target only the audience members likely to resonate with it. Remember those buyer personas you created earlier? Use those personas to help you craft targeted ads and then be sure to collect the results for use as you grow your following.
  6. Too Much Selling, Not Enough Nurturing. When you create your direct response advertisements in your digital marketing campaign, avoid merely selling your idea or product. If you consistently sell to people who might be more interested in learning, you will lose customers. CTA’s that include learning more with a click, joining a list, giving you a review, or participating in a trial are all examples of commands that do not require a purchase. Pepper a healthy dose of these CTA’s into your ad delivery.
  7. Set It and Forget It Marketing. Automated, impersonal marketing is annoying to your customers, plain and simple. Take time to value your customer segments with personal attention. Or, at least make your automations sound like they are customized, or offer a way for your customers to feel valued individually. Marketing is more than campaigns and launches. Daily marketing streams need regular attention. You can steadily increase the conversion rate across your digital marketing by enhancing and optimizing the content the customer sees. For your direct response campaigns to work, they must have a person monitoring and interpreting the results. If you have a link to subscribe to emails, you have to update your email list, for example.

Two strategies are better than one

Finally, digital marketing and direct response are complementary strategies. Customers respond best to brand recognition combined with robust calls to action.

If you have great copy and ear-worm jingles, but fail to encourage their response and further engagement with your business, you’re leaving money and influence on the table.

If you are looking for help in incorporating these together, check out our friends at Romain Berg.They have years of experience and an expert, motivated staff to make your business stand out digitally and in many other channels.

You can and should get help with your marketing strategy. The right team can help you avoid mistakes and grow revenue.

With a strong collaboration, you can create a digital marketing strategy that converts to more sales in real life.

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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