Driving Success with Direct Response Campaigns

Marketing campaigns fall into two main categories: branding and direct response. Branding campaigns focus on increasing broad awareness, consideration, and favorability for a brand. They are far less sophisticated and targeted than direct response (DR) campaigns. DR is a form of marketing designed to elicit an immediate response or action from consumers. SocialCode has seen spend on DR campaigns spike in recent years. Most notably, when we analyzed our clients’ spend over the past two years, we uncovered the following trends:

  • Clients’ DR dollars on Facebook/Instagram increased 26% from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017. The majority of clients’ DR dollars are currently spent on Facebook. However, Snapchat and Pinterest are quickly becoming part of brands’ DR strategy. In fact, we saw that:

  • Clients’ DR dollars on Snapchat increased 146% from Q1 2017 to Q2 2017.

  • Clients’ DR dollars on Pinterest increased 817% from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017.

To help you ramp up your DR strategy, we’ve put together some best practices to guide your brand’s DR initiatives.

1. Identify your main objectives and KPIs

A solid campaign always begins with your goal. What is your brand trying to achieve in this campaign and what KPI, or key performance indicator, will you use to gauge your progress and success? There’s a very important distinction between DR and branding campaigns. The goal of a DR campaign is to drive an almost-instant result such as online sales, whereas branding campaigns reach people with the hopes of influencing their behavior later on. For example, a streaming service could launch a branding campaign to increase awareness for an upcoming TV show, then it could launch a DR campaign online driving people to its service, where they can immediately tune-in as the show premieres. Defining your goal is critical to achieving the next steps.

2. Define your attribution window

It’s important to know what your KPI or measure of success is, but it’s equally important to know how to measure this success. If your KPI is online sales, which it likely is in a DR campaign, you’re going to need to set up tracking pixels and tags. Another piece to the puzzle involves the timeframe in which you’re measuring success. Before launching your paid media campaign, define your attribution window. Attribution windows will vary depending on your end goal, as well as the platform you’re advertising on. For example, on Pinterest, where people begin searching for content months before taking an action, SocialCode recommends a longer attribution window such as 30-day click and engagement, 1-day view windows.

3. Align your ads with a desired action

Your ads should speak to the action (if any) you want your audience to take. In the context of paid digital media, DR ads typically drive you away from the platform where you saw the ad. They take you to the brand’s website or a third-party channel like Amazon or OpenTable where you can complete a purchase or make a reservation. To reduce friction and avoid losing attention, brands should only demand what they need from their audience at every stage of the funnel; if you need them to register for an appointment, then a registration form makes sense, but don’t ask for personal information if you’re merely running an awareness campaign. Video content is excellent, but should be utilized for the branding portions of your campaign–it’s a tall order to expect someone to take two actions; watch your video and buy your product right away. A better strategy would be to use video ads to build brand affinity, then retarget people who watched your video or engaged with it in a subsequent DR campaign with product shots that when clicked, immediately drive people to your e-commerce site, where they can make the final purchase.

You should also experiment with ads that allow you to take action right then and there. One example is Facebook’s Lead Ads, which allows brands to capture leads within Facebook’s native platform. Lead ads make the registration process easy by auto-populating contact information that people have given Facebook, like email addresses. This contact info can then be repurposed to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to further fuel your brand’s lead generation efforts. Similarly, Pinterest’s One Tap Promoted Pins are a great way to drive action. One Tap ads take Pinners directly from your Promoted Pin to your website in just one click, instead of two.

4. Ensure your owned channels are optimized for direct response

A common mistake brands make is accidentally burying critical information, such as details pertaining to what comes in an order, free shipping or how long your warranty will last. When you drive people from your online ads to your product pages, you should make it as easy as possible for someone to learn the most important features of your product, such as what it does or what colors and sizes it comes in.Your website should tout all promo codes and special offers as prominently as possible, preferably in the form of a banner that sits atop your website, regardless of what landing page people are visiting.

5. Nurture your customers

While direct response campaigns are the closest to your bottom line, they wouldn’t be successful if they weren’t preceded by effective branding campaigns. Nurturing your customers to drive lifts in brand recognition, consideration and preference is critical, and will likely deliver a halo effect to sales efforts. As cliché as it sounds, today’s upper-funnel ad viewers and engagers will drive tomorrow’s conversions.

Click here to read our complete Direct Response Playbook this December.