There’s a reason direct response marketing has been around for nearly as long as businesses have. This doesn’t mean it’s a thing of the past though. In fact, it will not just stay, but will continue to grow over the years.

It has been a top marketing content strategy for years, and the reason lies in its ability to immediately measure its efficacy.

These days, having the proper analytics in place to effectively measure a business’ marketing efforts is almost more important than what medium you use. This is a key ingredient of direct response marketing.


So what exactly is direct response marketing?

Essentially, direct response marketing is centered on encouraging immediate responses from prospective customers. These are customers whom you’ve identified to be interested in the service/product that your e-commerce venture offers.

And, because direct response marketing prompts potential customers with a definitive call to action, the strategy allows you to immediately have a clear grasp of how effective your marketing efforts are.

While advancements in technology and communication may have changed over the years, it’s important to note that the basic elements of direct response marketing haven’t.

The only real change lies in the exponential increase of available tools and resources (Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, SEO, along with more traditional ones like print ads, direct mail, etc.) that help e-commerce businesses place targeted messages in front of a targeted market segments. This, according to Shopify, dynamically increases engagements and conversions. Amidst these advances, the most basic direct response marketing elements still include:

  • A proposal
  • The necessary information to entice customer consideration
  • A decisive call to action
  • Clear options for response (toll-free numbers, email, online messaging, etc.)


Why direct response marketing?

In this digital age, there are a plethora of medium for utilizing the basic principles of direct response marketing. As such, it makes the most sense for small businesses to center their efforts on this strategy.

With the wide reach of online channels, direct response marketing relatively cheap. In addition, it has the ability to measure virtually every aspect of your direct response marketing campaign. This allows you to narrow down your efforts—eliminating those that don’t work, and strengthening those that do.


Direct response marketing tips

Make it easy

As the name suggests, the goal is to elicit a direct response from prospective customers of your e-commerce biz. It should be clear as day what the customer needs to do to respond to your marketing.

Whatever your desired call to action may be (a purchase, subscription or any link in the sales chain), there should be clear and concise instructions on how they should respond. If they need to enter their email address, tell them exactly where to type it. If they need to click on a link, make sure that the links or buttons can’t be missed.

Constantly urging customers to respond to your call to action could be the difference between a campaign failing and your e-commerce biz climbing to your first 1 million dollars.

Be specific

If you want to keep your potential customers’ attention, you need to tell them what value you’re offering. And, you have to tell them clearly!

An effective direct marketing response campaign makes customers believe that a company is able to help them accomplish something, or solve their problems.

As noted by Predictable Profits – creator of a methodology that helps generate predictable profits for small businesses – the focus should be on positioning yourself as a solution provider, and not just a product/service provider.  

Instead of saying, “We’re a leading provider of full-service digital solutions,” say, “We can build your website from scratch, offer support once it goes live, and help bring your site to targeted clients.”

Give freebies

Everybody loves free stuff; that’s just a fact of life. So, if a purchase is your call to action, bundling it with, for example, a free webinar or a booklet can add to the enticement of your offering.

You can further the perceived worth of your freebie by attaching a dollar value to it. This allows customers to quantify what they’re actually getting. Apart from getting free stuff, people like to feel like they’re getting something of quantifiable worth.

Set a deadline

Another fact of life is people’s proclivity to procrastinate. As a result, it’s imperative that you create a sense of urgency with your call to action.

If you have an ongoing promotion, attach an end date to your offer to encourage customers to decide immediately.


One of the biggest perks of direct response marketing is its trackability.

The ability to effectively measure the success (or lack thereof) of a direct response campaign is directly related to the ability to track exactly which media is resonating with your target market. Additionally, you can bolster this benefit by assigning specific channels to specific medium.

Here are a few examples of how direct response marketing provides you with unrivaled trackability. Thus giving you immediate access to quantitative data as soon as your ads go live:

  • Unique URLs

You can lead your customers to a specific landing page on your website by providing it on your email blasts, banner ads, etc. To make this even more specific, you can provide different URLs in each strategy to have a better quantitative data. Then you can review which campaign works best.

  • Phone Numbers

Including your phone numbers on your campaigns can help you differentiate the warm leads from the cold. You could lead them to a vanity 800 number like 1-800-I-BUILD-SITES or to your customer service hot line. Using different numbers, if possible, can help you know which campaign or medium is more effective.

  • Codes

You can use either coupon or QR codes that your customers can provide to receive a specific discount or promo you are advertising on the purchase of an item or service. In much the same way, creating a unique coupon code for each ad will provide you with a clear tracking method that will lead to informed marketing decisions.



There is a tendency for e-commerce startups to start with image marketing—which refers to marketing efforts focused on increasing brand awareness.

But, apart from the fact that it’s virtually impossible to quantify the effectiveness of image marketing, often this approach entails a larger marketing budget – something small businesses rarely have.

Direct response marketing allows you to track every aspect of your efforts. It also gives you the flexibility to install changes to the campaign as suggested by the strategy’s entailed analytics. And, by being able to narrow down your efforts, you get to save your e-commerce biz money while encouraging sales from the get go.  



Jesse Thayne is the Director of Demand Gen Marketing at Boostability. Having worked extensively within the SaaS industry, Jesse is skilled in Campaign Planning, Social Media Advertising, Sales, Tradeshow/Event Marketing, Digital and Email Marketing. In his spare time, Jesse enjoys spending time with his wife and children, is an avid gamer, and plays basketball competitively.