Direct Response Marketing: What It Is & Why It Works

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What is direct response marketing?

Familiarizing yourself with direct response marketing is probably one of the most valuable tools you can have as a marketer. Direct Response Marketing is a marketing strategy that encourages your audience to do a specific desired action quickly or immediately after seeing the ad. True to its name, this strategy helps the audience to directly respond to your ad by performing a desired action such as, but not limited to, adding to cart, signing up for your newsletter, or even straight to buying a product. In contrast to ad copywriting, which focuses on achieving results over some time, direct response marketing persuades your audience, with the help of well-written calls to action, to act fast. 

Direct response marketing is observable in most, if not all, forms of advertising. To break it down, here are 6 of the most common examples of direct response marketing you’ll generally see in the “wild”

Social Media ads

Last year, 4.26 billion people were active on one or more social media platforms. With those kind of numbers, it’s a no-brainer that advertisers are drawn to using these platforms as a medium for marketing. On Instagram, for example, a user is browsing stories and comes across an ad. Of course, this ad showing up on this user’s feed is no accident. It’s a product of targeting: the user might have searched a related keyword or added similar items to the cart in one of their numerous e-commerce sites.

Provided that the ad is well-placed and attractive, the user is very likely to swipe up. Sometimes, marketers and platforms utilize “bridges” that would help the consumers access the landing page through your ad. Instagrams Swipe Up” sign is one such example.

For more information on social media marketing, check out these articles from the Strikepoint Media blog:

7 Tips for Making High-Converting Facebook Ads

3 Steps to Creating Compelling YouTube Ads

Website Pop-ups and Banners

Another example of direct response marketing is website pop-ups and banners. Banners are either on top of the page or sides. They feature discounts or sales that would encourage customers to purchase. Look at this example from H & M:

Take note that this banner has a timer. Timers are usually a very good tool to increase the sense of urgency of your offer. 

Pop-ups are also very common. Pop-ups can appear in different ways like right when the page finishes loading, triggered by some action (scrolling, clicking), or when attempting to exit the page. Because they literally stop the users from scrolling further (or exiting), they are very effective in catching the customers’ attention and getting them to perform the desired action. Not too much, though! It can be disruptive to the user experience and turn out annoying. Here is Forbes’ very simple pop-up that encourages the users to sign up for their newsletter.

Here are 45 examples of pop-ups that work by Neil Patel. 

Referral and Loyalty Programs

Referral and loyalty programs are very common and help significantly in finding new leads and increasing your existing customer loyalty. Referral programs are especially effective when you tie in discounts, rewards, or even a free trial of your new products. Invitations for these programs can be sent through email or as a pop-up or option when customers have purchased something.  Always include a link that they can easily click to refer a friend, which, of course, should be easily found via your call to action.

One of the main advantages of Loyalty Programs is customer retention. If a customer is already buying consistently from a company, they’d think there’d be no harm in participating in a program that would benefit them. It’s a win-win situation. Sephora’s Beauty Insider Program is one of the most popular loyalty programs in the US. It makes up 80% of their annual sales! The secret to their very successful loyalty programs is using emotional loyalty drivers rather than transactional loyalty. Of course, aside from their good use of direct response marketing. 

Google Ads

Google offers more than 200 products and services, many of which actively collect information from its consumers. As a result, out of all tech companies, Google tracks and collects the most data through its various platforms. Out of all companies, Google tracks and contains the most data through its multiple platforms. Advertising on Google, especially on Google search, also gives you a unique advantage when the people seeing your ads are probably actively typing in a keyword related to your product. For example, we’ll type in “how to advertise online.” The results looked like this:

If the user is genuinely searching for actionable ways to advertise online, they’d most probably be drawn to these first results. Through Google Display Network, you can even choose where you want your ads to appear (among 2 million websites, videos, and apps). Aside from its reach, Google ads also allow brands to customize their audience based on existing information they’ve gathered from their users. Targeting is a key component in making sure that your ads are shown to people whose interests align with what you offer. Google Analytics is also very effective in measuring your performance to help you make well-informed decisions. For example, you can view the consumer engagement with your ad. Did they click it? What’s the next move after clicking the ad? Was it a purchase? Add to cart? Did the event following the ad follow your call to action? These questions are easily answered and such, allowing you to properly evaluate your ad’s performance. 

Text Messaging and Direct Mail Marketing

These ads may seem old school or traditional, but don’t cross these off your list just yet! We guarantee that 100% of your customers use one or both of these, which makes it an excellent medium to contact your consumers. Both are very similar in that you have to get your customer’s consent to deliver these messages. They sign up to your mailing list or voluntarily give their phone numbers. But it’s actually to your advantage! It means that they are already interested and are already susceptible to your marketing strategies. People have been spending more time than ever on their phones. While the increase in time spent on their phones are mostly attributed to social media, they also access their messaging apps on their phones. The main advantage of SMS and email marketing is the more personalized and close relationship that you can build with your customers. Unlike saturated social media platforms where they’re bombarded with an ad every minute or so, personal messaging channels are a lot less cluttered. Some types of messages you can send through SMS or email are product launches, NPS, and review requests. 

Remember to segment your audience to make your messages more personalized depending on their familiarity with your brand. We’ve written a short introduction on segmenting traffic levels in our recent Facebook ads post.

If you need a little more convincing, here are 3 companies that used direct marketing strategy to scale their business.


This company is a grocery delivery service that has utilized direct marketing strategies even as a young company with a smaller budget.  They even offer delivery within an hour of placing your order. Imagine clicking an ad and having your groceries delivered in a very short amount of time? 


This company is a subscription service that provides pet products monthly. Their ads usually show a dog happily opening their BarkBox for the month. If you’re a dog owner, that sight would most probably be very convincing. Their CTA asks consumers to sign up to receive free shipping. 


Bonobos is a clothing brand subsidiary of Walmart. They send out real catalogs to their consumers! While very traditional and seemingly not very cost-effective, it does play well to the kind of consumers they have. The traditional feel of the catalog’s glossy pages is well aligned to the image of the brand and their target demographics.

Why does it work?

Direct response marketing is a tried and tested marketing strategy that has been around for years. Can you believe the oldest recorded form of direct marketing happened in 1000 BC? It has, of course, since evolved to fit the changes in technology and human needs. If it has managed to stick around for millennia, it must work. But why? 

What makes direct response marketing work so well? 

We’ll break down 5 reasons why direct response marketing is so effective..

It makes a specific offer

One of the hallmarks of good marketing is making sure that your offer is very specific. You need to outline what your customers will get from your product or service. But, there’s more to offers than just telling them what product or service they’re getting, although that’s a big part. It’s important to refine your offer as best you can to boost the chances of your ad converting. Details should include discounts, time restrictions, freebies, giveaways, payment information, and others, depending on your offer. Marketingexperiments conducted a fascinating comparative research on the performance of specific offers to specific people vs. general offers to a general audience. The experiment involved a sister company that focuses on general marketing principles. Unsurprisingly, the results of the experiment highlighted the power of having a specific offer. 

It creates a sense of urgency

A sense of urgency has been proven to drive higher conversion rates. The effectiveness of this particular aspect of direct response marketing lies in human psychology! If the product is compelling in and of itself, adding a sense of urgency will only serve to push the audience to act faster. Urgency can be created through limited products or a limited time to get an especially attractive offer. Scarcity is also often paired with urgency. Both of these principles are very effective tools to push customers to take that desired action now or risk losing the chance.

It measures success and tracks performance

One major advantage of direct response marketing is how easy it is to track your progress and evaluate whether a certain campaign is successful or not. Say for example, you’ve created urgency through a time limit on a specific offer. After that duration, you are able to track how effective that ad is through its conversion rate. Because direct response marketing is also cost-effective (see more in no. 5), split or A/B testing is also very manageable. You produce two ads with slight variations and see which performs better. You can then make informed decisions based on the results.

It targets a specific audience

You might find yourself wanting to advertise to as many people as possible. However, it would be a better financial decision to narrow down your audience and target people that are more likely to respond to your ad. This way, you are not wasting time, money, and effort on leads that are not likely to go anywhere. In short, quality over quantity. Most of the examples we’ve mentioned in the earlier part of this post makes use of audience targeting. On Google Ads for example, your audience is very customizable depending on the user demographics and activities online. 

Since you want to target specific audiences, you need to remember to create a customer avatar to have a more concrete idea of who your target audience is. Have you created your customer avatar? If not, check out this Strikepoint Media Blog post where we teach you how to create a customer avatar to hook your ideal clients every time. 

It is very cost-effective

As mentioned previously, direct response requires the marketer to target a specific audience. This means that you are only paying attention to potential clients, those who are very likely to respond to your ad. You are paying for priority leads and as such, have better chances of a good return on ad spend. Some platforms that cater to direct response marketing also have options that would help in making your campaigns more cost-effective. Facebook, for example, allows you to set your ad budget. So if you have a campaign you want to test run, you can set a smaller budget and only increase it if it yields significant results.


Marketing is a very crucial part of any business, and having an effective marketing strategy can make or break your business. If you want to launch a campaign that will get you great results, you should seriously consider implementing a direct response marketing strategy. It’s cost-effective, measurable, targeted, and most importantly, it works! It’s also a marketing strategy that can be implemented in many different mediums and is overall a great tool every marketer should keep in their kits. 

Need help with your marketing strategy? Strikepoint Media offers a free strategy session to help you out. You can also read our Blog for more posts like this one!


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