Direct Response

Direct response is a marketing strategy that aims to elicit an immediate, trackable reaction from a lead. It is often contrasted to mass (or brand) marketing.

Direct responseMass marketing
Applied Tactics
EmailsPR
Phone callsAdvertising
Outreach via social networksContent
MailSEO
Features
The strategy is applied by SMEs that newly enter markets, local businesses, B2B companies, especially with enterprise sales cyclesThe strategy is applied by large B2C enterprises with big marketing and advertising budgets
Targeted outreach to a limited number of leads that fit certain criteriaMass outreach to a large pool of leads via mass media
The message is customized and personalized for a particular prospectThe message is brand-centric and can be applied to a large number of people
Company has full control over which prospects receive its messageCompany has little to no control over who actually get to engage with the brand
The strategy aims to engage — to provide some immediate reaction or response (hence the name)The strategy has a call to action but it’s mostly delayed, repeated exposure and even saturation are the goals
Examples
Specific 1-to-1 offerA banner advertising a discount
Prospecting emailWebsite
Cold callTV commercial

Advantages of the direct response strategy for B2B companies:

1.Efficiency

Mass marketing appeals to large audiences (hundreds of thousands). It’s good for B2C brands that aim to win millions of customers around the globe. However, if you are B2B, your total addressable market (TAM) is relatively smaller, and usually defined by budget, size, authority, and need. Thus, your chances to attract the attention of your leads via broad advertisement are rarer. 

A website and content strategy (as part of mass marketing strategy) is a must-have for any firm in the digital era. However, it has major disadvantages to direct response. Any company that relies on the content exclusively is confined to passively wait for its potential clients to come across its content.

What direct response offers is an opportunity to determine your ideal customer profiles, identify your potential clients and their needs, and engage with them in a one-on-one business conversation. In this way, a firm can significantly increase its chances to get attention and response.

2. Price per lead

Mass marketing strategy requires that large budgets should be spent on the advertisement on TV, radio, outdoor, print, and other media. However, the cost of such mass coverage is too large. The cost of digital marketing (for example getting your website to the top of Google SERP) is also significant.

Since the direct response strategy is not only more efficient (when it comes to lead conversion) but also cheaper than mass marketing, a price per lead should be lower too (and at the end of the day the customer acquisition cost too).

3. Trackability

When it comes to mass marketing, it’s hard to tell what really works and what doesn’t. Was it the new bright design of the website that made leads convert better? Or was it just a coincidence?

In direct response, you get feedback immediately. For example, if none of your 200 emails were opened, it’s most likely the subject line that causing trouble.

4. Control

When it comes to mass advertising, if a company fails to create a good commercial, there’s almost nothing they can do about it. Since the measurement is much harder, companies often go with or stick with campaigns created largely on “gut feel” or Ad Agency recommendations. If those ads fail to move the needle, all the company can do is to evaluate the loss and move on.

Since the trackability is better for direct response, a firm can react and change tactics within weeks or even days. There is far more optimization and constant tweaking of campaigns with direct response.

5. Time

A mass marketing strategy requires a significant amount of time. This is especially true for commercials, content, and SEO. You can’t build a website and fill it with high-quality content overnight. You can’t build mass followership in a week. You can’t organically hit the top of Google SERP in a month.

On the other hand, the direct response gets you to a business conversation with your prospects in a short period of time (from several days to weeks depending on the length of your sales cycle and other factors).

Summary

Direct response is an efficient strategy for a business to actively engage with potential customers. It has a number of advantages over mass marketing that a B2B company can leverage in its go-to-market and business growth strategy.