Digital marketing and direct response marketing are both key concepts in today’s advertising world – but they aren’t quite the same thing. Too often, business owners think that they don’t need direct response marketing because they already have digital marketing. The truth is that direct response marketing is a broader category than digital marketing – and, besides, there’s more to digital marketing than direct response! A good marketing strategy will make use of both of these different concepts.
Not all digital marketing is direct response marketing
Part of the confusion between these two terms stems from the fact that so much of digital marketing is also direct response marketing. Digital advertising includes all of the advertising done on the internet, computers, and mobile devices. And when we think of digital ads, we tend to think about things that we can click on: banner ads, for instance, or pop-ups directing us to new websites or asking us to sign up for email mailing lists.
Those banner ads and pop-ups are direct response marketing, because they prompt a direct and measurable response – they’re asking for clicks, and the advertisers know if we click or not. But there are other types of digital marketing that are not direct response.
For instance, search engine optimization is a digital marketing technique that is not necessarily considered a direct response technique. In search engine optimization, companies strive to make sure that the content on their web and blog pages is as attractive as possible to algorithms from Google and other search engines. Companies hope that potential customers searching Google will see links to the company’s services or products high on the list of Google results. And while there are ways to measure how many site visits come from Google, search engine optimization isn’t direct response marketing in the traditional sense.
Then there is social media advertising, which often includes a direct response element (such as a link to purchase a product – the likes on the post itself can also be considered a response). But social media has a more traditional role, too. Social media posts can feature more traditional branding-oriented marketing messages, and they’re seen by far more people than actually bother to “like” or share them. Integrating direct response marketing within your social media brand-building is a great way to jumpstart response and increase your sales. Upwards of 2.5 billion people use social media, so it’s important to get the most value possible out of those users seeing your content.
Not all direct response marketing is digital
It’s true that not all digital marketing is direct response marketing. It’s even more true that not all direct response marketing is digital.
Direct response marketing lives in other places besides on the internet. Take radio, for instance – a relatively old-fashioned bit of technology that would not be considered digital. Direct response radio ads are very popular. You’ve probably heard a few of them: an audio message during a radio commercial break that asks you to sign up for a text message service or call a number. You don’t need a smartphone to do this, and it’s not truly digital, but it very much is direct response marketing: the advertiser is looking for a specific action, one they can measure.
This is hardly the only example. Direct marketing can take as many forms as you have the imagination for. Some charities send out nickels with return envelopes, asking donors to send them back with more money – this is direct response marketing, as the call to action is clear and the result is measurable (just count the envelopes that are returned). You can do direct marketing with radio ads, TV ads, and even phone call ads. None of these are digital marketing.
So do you still need direct response marketing when you already have digital marketing? The answer is simple: you do. The two concepts are different, and a good marketing strategy will make use of both digital marketing and direct response marketing.