What is direct response marketing? A 10 mins A-to-Z no bullshit guide.

Direct response marketing is a type of marketing designed to create an instant response by encouraging a targeted prospect to take a specific action now.

The goal of direct response marketing is to:

  • Sell stuff efficiently at great profit

In this article, you will understand in detail what direct marketing is, why it’s used, who should use it and why other marketing practices are simply leaving money on the table and missing out big time on higher sales and better profits.

What direct response is (in detail)

As already mentioned above, direct response marketing is a type of marketing designed to create an instant response by encouraging a targeted prospect to take a specific action now.

The goal of direct marketing is to eliminate any type of marketing efforts that are not directly linked to the end goal. This means that things like vaguely inviting people to visit your shop or services (online or offline) without any sort of persuasion and end goal would not be considered direct marketing, even though you still expect or would want some to buy.

Here are 3 things to remember when you want to make sure your marketing is as effective as possible:

  • Your marketing must ask for an instant response
  • The person targeted by your message must be exclusive vs inclusive
  • The action you are asking your prospect to take must be very specific

Although these points are a great place to start and describe what direct response is about, many more details are to consider to have the most effective marketing strategy. Key elements to maximizing your marketing efforts will be covered in a following section: Key elements of direct response marketing.

Why is direct response marketing used?

The goal of direct marketing is to maximise the potential of any marketing effort. At its core, its purpose to maximize financial output and profitability by giving marketing efforts responsibility for the results.

Compared to traditional ways of marketing or brand building, direct marketing takes a clear responsibility for the results reached and desired.

For example, instead of opting for views or other meaningless bottom-line metrics, KPIs (key performance indicators) are defined and meticulously measured to optimize all steps of the sales funnel (sales and leads).

Benefits of direct response marketing

The benefits of direct response marketing are better return on investment, clear metrics and results and better efficiency.

Every piece of marketing is held responsble for results and anything not providing results will be replaced by a better performing piece from AB testing.

Who is direct response for?

Direct response marketing is for any business looking to optimize its marketing and ROI.

It has been proven to work in many industries, including:

  • Auto service & repair
  • Banking
  • Coaching
  • Construction & home improvement
  • Dental care
  • E-commerce
  • Education
  • Fitness & gyms
  • Hardware stores
  • Healthcare
  • Home services and upkeep
  • HVAC
  • Investing & wealth management
  • Jewelry
  • Lawn care
  • Real estate
  • Recruitment
  • Restaurants
  • And much more!

It has also been used and proven in both B2B and B2C contexts.

If your are disatisfied with your marketing results, chances are a good direct marketing strategy will work much better.

The 9 key elements of effective direct response marketing

As discussed earlier, some elements are to be considered to have effective direct response marketing.

Here is a proven cheat sheet list of best practices to consider when building profitable direct response marketing:

  1. Always have a no-brainer offer (no reason to say no)
  2. Always have a reason for the prospect to respond now (scarcity and urgency)
  3. Always give clear instructions on what to expect and how to respond (ex. click here, do this)
  4. Always be able to track your results
  5. Always focus on the offer and the prospect (not brand building or awareness)
  6. Always make sure to have a follow-up system in place
  7. Always have strong copy
  8. Always focus on desired results (sales, leads, etc.)
  9. Always be disciplined about the marketing – scale the winners and kill the losers

The previous cheat sheet list was inspired from Dan Kennedy’s in his book No B.S. Direct Marketing.

The most effective channels for direct response

Direct response has been used and proven on every channel. The idea is not to have a pre-conceived notion of which channel to use, but rather pick a channel based on the people you want to reach.

Channels that have been proven to work include:

  • Direct mail
  • TV
  • Magazines and e-magazines
  • Journals & newspapers
  • E-mail
  • Facebook ads
  • Google ads & display ads
  • LinkedIn ads
  • Youtube Ads
  • Bing ads
  • Tiktok ads
  • And all other form of advertising or information distribution channel

Good examples of direct response marketing

Here are a couple of good examples of direct response ads and pages (and some landing pages).

Clickfunnels home page direct response marketing landing page
Clickfunnels home page for free 14 day trial of the software
Hello Fresh social media direct response ad
Hello Fresh Facebook ad for free meals (source)
Clickfunnels website banner direct response ad
Clickfunnels website banner ad for free blueprint
Webfx website banner direct response ad
Webfx website banner ad for optin
Clickfunnels popup direct response marketing
Clickfunnels popup on exit for free book

Direct response legends

When it comes down to direct response, many marketing icons popularised this strategy and went on to help build some of the largest known brands today. Here is a list of some of the most well-known direct response marketers, as well as some of the brands that were built with the strategy.

Direct response marketers

If you are interested in some people using this strategy every day, here are some worth studying:

  • Dan S. Kennedy
  • David Ogilvy
  • Eugene M. Schwartz
  • Gary C. Halbert
  • Claude C. Hopkins
  • Sabri Suby
  • Russell Brunson

If you are interested, all of them have books that are worth reading.

Well-known brands built with direct marketing

If you are interested in brands that have been built using this strategy, here are some worth studying:

  • Casper (mattresses)
  • Harry’s (razors)
  • BarkBox
  • Warby Parker
  • Manscaped
  • Clickfunnels
  • Hello Fresh
  • King Kong

A good way to to study them is to simply go to their websites and opt in to whatever they are trying to get you into. You can also search on Google for case studies related to these brands.

Here is one that I did on using direct marketing for a local small service business with a tiny email list to get 78.3% open rate and be profitable in 1 week: See case study.


And there you have it! Using direct response is a powerful way to make sure that every piece of your marketing is done with intention.

With the sole goal of selling more and increasing profitability.

Hopefully this helped you understand what direct response is and how you can optimize your marketing efforts.

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