Choosing the Right Channels for Your Direct Response Offer

Offline and online, traditional and digital, there are so many ways you can reach your customers with direct response marketing offers today. Email, postal mail, Facebook groups, SMS, LinkedIn ads, mobile ads, Twitter, referrals, webinars, magazine ads, signage, telemarketing…and so on.

Our multi-channel world is a dynamic place. From one campaign to the next, there’s always an opportunity to try (and test!) a new communication channel to reach people, make a connection, and drive engagement. That’s what makes this exciting—and perhaps a bit daunting.

“How do we choose the right channels for our next campaign?!”
There’s no single communication channel mix that’s going to work for everyone—or for every campaign, even if you hit on the perfect mix for your last offer. You can’t expect the same results every time unless you’re promoting the same offer to the same audience. (But even the best campaigns need to be tested from time to time!)

Since it’s easy to get overwhelmed, we’re here with some sound advice. When you’ve crafted a terrific offer for a defined audience and you’re ready to promote it, consider the following before pressing “go” on your campaign:

Campaign Goals
What are you looking to achieve? Your goals can point you to the communication channels that are most likely to drive the response you’re looking for. While it might be obvious that in-store advertising works for in-store promotions, or that a special offer for your Facebook business page fans is best communicated through Facebook, some offers require a few minutes of think-through.

If you’re aiming for customer referrals, you’ll want to appeal to customers personally and with some custom messaging. This makes direct mail and emails better choices than the mobile channel. Unless that is, your offer involves a mobile app or download.

If you want to “get the word out” and collect a large number of top-of-the-funnel leads—to sign up for an e-newsletter, for example—you’ll probably opt to focus on digital channels with built-in sharing capabilities. In this case, printed promotions may not result in the speedy message proliferation and cost-effective registrations you’re counting on.

Budget
How much can you spend to promote your offer? Let’s say you’re extending an offer to existing customers and expect the campaign to pull in significant sales. With an equally significant budget to play with, you’re prepared to cast a wide net: reach customers through multiple channels so they have opportunities to engage and respond whether they’re opening their mailbox, reading emails, answering phone calls, scanning their social feeds, or doing all-of-the-above.

On the other hand, investing even a pencil-thin budget into a Google AdWords or Facebook Ads campaign might yield profitable results if offer responses lead to high-ROI purchases. In this example, it might make sense to supplement the PPC campaign with lower-cost email campaign.

Customer Preferences
How do your customers want to be reached with offers? You can’t underestimate your customer’s communication preferences when it comes to promoting offers. For instance, you may not need to think twice about sticking with tried-and-true direct mail and telemarketing for your Greatest Generation customers.

If your target audience are dedicated “texters” who respond most heartily to SMS offers, you may need to rely on the mobile channel above all others to reach them. Social media platforms—perhaps the more visual Instagram or YouTube—may be good secondary communication channels to add to the mix.

Reaching customers through a particular communication channel (or two) is one thing; generating a response is another. Depending on your products and services, of course, you may best catch a customer’s attention with a postcard. But they’ll probably want the option to respond to your offer by scanning a QR code or visiting your website directly.

Competition and Conquering
How are other companies in your space promoting their offers? It’s always good practice to keep an investigative eye on what your competitors are doing. Not only can you get ideas for how to position or promote your offers differently (i.e. better), but you might glean insights into what your target audience expects. If you notice your competitors’ ads consistently popping up in search results or the Sunday newspaper, that may be a sign that you need to “play” in that space, too.

Don’t forget about your indirect competitors. Learn more in How Direct Response Marketing Can Keep Up With Customers’ Liquid Expectations.

Historical Performance
What’s worked for you in the past—and what’s working for you now? Have you discovered that the social channel goes gangbusters with your “15% off your first purchase” offer? Or that existing customers bring their direct mail-based paper coupons into retail stores? Maybe email is the only channel that generates webinar sign-ups?

Testing your offers by experimenting with a new communications approach can help you hone your messages and understand your customers better. You just might find that adding an email component to your direct mail campaign is just what you needed. Or that Facebook Ads are the perfect complement to your already-successful social posting schedule.

You absolutely have to track, measure, and test your campaign communication channel activity and performance each and every time. This will help you challenge your assumptions—even those you made as a result of considering your campaign goals, budgets, customer preferences, and competition.

As you can see, there’s no one “right” communications mix that works for everyone, or for every one of a single company’s campaigns. But you can keep improving over time. As with all things direct marketing, the trick is to go in with a plan, learn what works, and continue to optimize for ongoing, upward success. Contact us for guidance with your multi-channel media strategy.