Direct Response Marketing For Ecommerce Brands

by Jason Vaught
Direct Response Marketing For Ecommerce Brands

Want to maximize revenues while keeping advertising costs low? To accomplish this, you must leverage the best direct-response marketing tactics for ecommerce websites. It requires more up-front work, but once your business experiences stress-free growth because you can now measure and influence your marketing R.O.I., it will be worth it.

This article will explain how to implement the direct response methodology across all marketing channels. You will understand the latest direct response strategies for ecommerce brands and what they do. 

Let’s begin with fundamentals. From the headline to the C.T.A., we take you through each component of direct response copywriting. Here’s what you can expect to learn from this article. 

  • How to use direct response for lead generation.

  • Creating a funnel-focused email marketing strategy.

  • How to write killer product descriptions that convert. 

  • Leveraging SMS to capture attention.

  • The missing link (direct response) in social media.

  • How you can lower S.E.M. acquisition costs with immediate response.

Direct response is a mindset; your entire marketing strategy will change with this mindset. You think less about becoming memorable through off-topic marketing and instead, seek to capture attention through on-topic content. 

While a direct response marketing campaign doesn’t exclude brand marketing, it involves a willingness to sacrifice branding if it negatively affects conversions or raises customer acquisition costs. 

Now, let’s get into the direct response fundamentals that make up the framework for your new ecommerce marketing strategy.

Direct Response Fundamentals for Ecommerce Brands

Copywriting is at the heart of direct response marketing. The words (or voice) must put people in the mode of taking immediate action. 

Headlines: The most critical component of direct response is the title, either through the subject line (an email) or the headline (a page)

Engaging content: Every word only exists to get people to read the next term. Lose a reader, lose a customer.

“There Will Be Strong Copy” - Dan Kennedy 

A Clear Call To Action(s): A CTA must exist anytime the lead or customer is ready to take the next step. 

A Better Form of Lead Generation

Brand advertising is the wrong move when you are chasing new leads and trying to capture the attention of a target audience unfamiliar with your name. There’s never a wrong time to have a direct response mindset, but lead gen is the best. It is a requirement if you hope to capture a potential customer at the lowest acquisition cost.

Getting consumers to question their current buying habits is an excellent way to distinguish your product from the competition. The Razor brand Harry’s makes you question whether your current price is fair. Then they use the word “worth” to imply how their brand will save you money without reducing your shaving satisfaction. 

How Not to Create Mediocre Targeted display ads

Whether through affiliate marketing or with a display ad network, your banner ads must get the customer's attention and provide a real-good reason to click the mouse. 

This example could use some improvement. Spotted Zebra is not a household name, and while the colors and cute kiddos help, more yay for your play works best for companies with existing consumer awareness. Nothing indicates this brand is a clothing company, and there is not enough intrigue or desire for me to click the ad to find out more about this brand. 

They take an omnichannel ecommerce approach by selling Spotted Zebra on Amazon and 3rd party retailers. But even if they want to focus on a channel other than their ecommerce website, they can use direct response marketing to gain more customers and keep them for longer. 

  • First, we would change the display ad to state something such as “Apparel that’s as bright as your child’s smile.”

  • Then we change the button to say “shop for smiles.”

  • The link takes them to a landing page to receive an immediate coupon if they enter their name and email. 

  • Place those who do not purchase into a follow-up sequence. 

  • Those who purchase are placed in a follow-up sequence and provided the opportunity to enter their receipt number to join the smiling kid membership club.

Now we are getting to the essence of what direct response marketing is.

Product Descriptions That Create Greater Profits

It is shocking how many ecommerce product descriptions lack the direct response framework. Most product descriptions include basic product information, technical details, and an add-to-cart button. A lazy approach to their product description costs them millions of dollars.  

Direct response copy is not only better for the brand, but it’s better for the customer. Direct response copy makes the shopping experience more enjoyable, engaging the reader with excitement and opportunity. Create the best direct-response product description if you believe in your product. 

For Ecommerce Websites Who Retail Other Brands

While copy and click might be easy, using a manufacturer’s description isn’t good for SEO and is likely unsuitable for creating a conversion rate. We have a few tips for ecommerce resellers.

  1. If brands permit you to change the description, change it. Use the existing content as raw material for your sales copy. Take it further by interviewing the brand for personalized and specialized product information. 

  2. If brands do not permit you to change the description, create a framework that builds upon this description. You can use many direct response tactics to enhance an immovable object, such as a manufacturer’s product description. You can significantly increase the conversion rate by adding testimonials, insights, and new calls to action.

The Right Approach To Email Marketing 

Every page of your funnel needs a hook, a story, and an offer - Russell Brunson 

Ecommerce websites need to rethink their email content. Email marketing for ecommerce isn’t about lengthy newsletters and long-drawn-out sales letters. It’s about getting subscribers to commit quickly and “find out more”. How can you get people to engage in 50-125 words? 

Leave a story unfinished or create so much desire that they have no choice but to click. 

Open rates tell you how good your subject line is, and click rates show how your body copy performs. Always split test. - Steve Karlotski, Technical Market Specialist at Nine.

The Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Using Duck Commander as an example, let’s say they can no longer lean on the family’s celebrity influence to sell more duck calls. Through a strategy session, the brand creates a landing page for newbie hunters to reach their ideal customer profile earlier in the buyer’s journey. 

The landing page gives people a free copy of the beginner’s guide to duck hunting and puts them in the email sequence. Understanding that less than 10% of people will open, let alone read, the ebook, they sprinkle this content into a drip campaign. 

This ecommerce company follows the rule that every email must have an action, so they include an interesting offer to try their duck call FREE for a limited time. 

The email includes a click-worthy subject line with email copy that intertwines education with product benefits for the most optimal open rate. Every email sent provides valuable information about this customer, helping to segment them for future offers and interactions. 

Isn’t this a better use of email marketing than a monthly newsletter? We think so. 

SMS Messaging Mirroring Text Communication

The most underutilized ecommerce marketing medium is the most common way humans communicate today. We’re talking text messages. SMS is yet another touch point for your direct marketing campaign. While you can target a prospect, SMS is better for communicating with the existing customer. 

Think about it. Do you want to receive a text message from someone you don’t know? It’s the same for business to consumer. 

Super SMS Case Study

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In SMS marketing, this is true, and Super Coffee does an excellent job of adapting a direct response marketing campaign for this medium. Instead of a headline, they use an image. 

Boom, now you are interested in what this “team” has to say. Matching the tone of voice to the image, they lead with energy that develops interest. Finally, they make the pitch. 

Sometimes, going straight to the sale is the right move with an SMS direct marketing campaign; other times, it might be different. The only way to find this out is through split testing, which is part of the direct response S.O.P. 

Direct Response Marketing For Social Media

Trackability is one key to direct response success. In its infancy, social media marketing provided little in the way of data tracking. Then came 3rd party cookies, which told us everything we wanted to know about our demographic. With access to so much data, mediocrity in the copy became the standard. 

Sure, some outliers were raking in cash, but most settled for profitable yet less-than-optimal advertising campaigns. Now, with privacy restrictions placed on these digital marketing platforms, we are left with two options. 

  1. Go back to using social media solely for building brand awareness.

  2. Go all in and create the best direct-response ad possible. 

We suggest your brand goes with option #2, creating the best direct response social media ecommerce strategy possible. 

When you tie the available social media data with email and website data, you create a robust system for understanding your customer. 

Even if your ads can no longer target a 50-year-old male interested in fishing and cheap beer, with strong messaging, you will fish out this customer. 

“Paid ads on social media put you in control of your distribution (at least more so than the above). Plus, if done right, it can essentially be free." - Billy Gene

Search Engine Marketing

Flat out, you will get crushed if you do not have direct response fundamentals throughout your pay-per-click search marketing campaign. However, there is ample opportunity to employ direct response strategies in an ecommerce SEO campaign. 

Most websites get traffic through SEO, but only some know how to turn those visitors into customers. Having your direct response specialist review your blog content for ways to turn visitors into customers is a fast way to make money from your SEO ecommerce campaign. 

The first step is ensuring every page in your content marketing plan includes a meta title and description that leads to the highest click rate. Then, pretend you do not own this landing page but need to capture visitor information as quickly as possible. Hit them with an offer to capture their name and email before they get too far in the article. 

Go Offline To Win Online Sales

Even if you engage in online commerce, you can still acquire customers offline. But to go offline, you must implement the direct response framework if you hope to move the customer from offline to online. 

Go Old School & Use Direct mail

Direct mail still works, and the postal service has been stepping up its analytical game to give you better insights into whom to target and when to target them. Admittedly, this is for bigger budgets, but you may find a better lifetime R.O.I. from your existing customer if direct mail marketing is a part of your nurture strategy. 

When creating a direct response mail campaign, let your imagination run wild. Continuing with the apparel retailer example. Let’s say you have a new breathable material that keeps you cool and feels fantastic. 

Create a direct mail piece that includes a small piece of the garment, explaining the origins and benefits of the materials. Put a Q.R. code on the letter bringing recipients deeper into your apparel design story. Then, hit them with a no-brainer offer, either making them a customer or capturing information for later retargeting. 

Product Demonstrations & Trade Shows

Product demonstrations are a genuine opportunity to outperform the competition. Even as a digital marketing agency, our team attends and sets up booths at tradeshows to reach our ideal customers.

Trade shows put you in front of a targeted audience, meaning you know what attendees are there to learn. So your job is to create a compelling reason to visit your booth and provide information. Then, turn that communication into an email drip campaign filled with direct response tactics to turn them into customers. 

What information are trade show attendees looking for that they will not find at this event? Connect the dots between the interests of these potential customers and find a way to provide it to them after the event. 

Direct Response Marketers Who Love Ecommerce

The nine is an ecommerce digital marketing agency specializing in direct response marketing. Our team can help you find the right marketing strategy to support your company’s growth. We strategize, optimize, and grow every marketing channel so that it is the most impactful direct response campaign.

Jason Vaught

About Jason Vaught

Business and entrepreneurship came early for Jason, with his candy selling business being shut down by the middle school principal, which led to his suspension. Taking a break from marketing and strategy until after his formative years, Jason began his first “real” business at 22, which he held until December 2021. Throughout this time, Jason owned various businesses in many industries, which gave him a unique lens to look through. He channeled the information gained from these various perspectives through article content writing. He quickly realized that it took more than good content to rank in Google. This is when his fire for SEO and content marketing first started. Now, Jason focuses all his efforts on SEO and content marketing, finding that he enjoys helping other companies more than his own. There is something special (and spiritual) about being a part of someone else’s success. Personally, Jason most enjoys spending time with his 5-kids and beautiful wife. He’s also passionate about golf, gardening, and reading good books.