What Is Direct Response Marketing?

Cartoon of a rocket taking off from a computer

Want even MORE info about how to use copywriting to grow your business? Grab your spot in this FREE course to learn about the tools and strategies you (and your business) have been missing out on.



You've probably heard the phrase before, but you might still be wondering, "what is direct response marketing?"

Luckily, it's simple.

One of the most important parts of any marketing campaign is to get the customer to take action. However, most customers won’t just take action on their own; they need to be told what to do.

This is where direct response marketing comes in.


With direct response marketing, you compel action, which in turn means driving more action.

And it's a valuable tool to have in your box.

So, below is everything you need to know about direct response marketing.

What Is Direct Response Marketing?

Put simply, direct response marketing is any form of marketing that gets a customer to take immediate action. Now, this action doesn’t have to be to purchase a product—but they need to take some form of action that helps to move them further down the sales funnel.


To run a direct response marketing campaign, you need a call to action. 


Example of a call-to-action - "Free Instant Access"


This call to action gets the customer to make a decision to either purchase or take a smaller action that eventually leads to a sale.

Whether it is to a “free” gift, a smaller purchase, or a big-ticket item, you want to get the customer to take some form of action to get them used to saying yes to your offers.

Eventually, once the customer is in the habit of saying yes to your offers, you can start selling bigger and bigger products and/or services.

So, what are some examples of calls to action?

  • Asking a customer to click

  • Asking directly for a purchase

  • Asking for an email address

  • Asking a customer to join an online seminar

  • Getting the customer to agree to a sales call

There are many different calls to action you can use in a direct response marketing campaign. The goal, though, is to get them to respond directly to your request and take immediate action.

(RELATED: What Is Copywriting? Inside The One Skill Every Marketer Needs)

Four Types Of Direct Response Marketing Campaigns

To better understand direct response marketing, there needs to be an understanding of where direct response marketing is used. Below are a few places in which a direct call to action can be used to make a sale or to get the customer used to saying yes to an offer.

#1: Sales Letters/Emails

sales letter or email is an excellent way to get a customer to take immediate action. Through sales letters and emails, a marketer can ask the customer to visit a link, send an email or make a phone call.

All of these can lead to a sale.

Sales emails can be very abrasive if done incorrectly, and they can easily turn people off. Some people don’t like being sold to, while others simply don’t like a pushy salesman.


A well-written sales letter will draw the customer in and hit the right pain points.


Example of a Lurn sales letter for eSCAPE


Once the email is over with, the customer won’t care that they are being sold to!

Keep in mind that for sales letters (and other forms of written sales), you’ll want to make sure that you know how to write some amazing sales copy

(RELATED: Sales Letters 101)

#2: Sales Calls         

Another place in which direct response marketing is used is on sales calls.

Sales calls allow marketers to speak directly with customers or clients. During these calls, they can build a rapport and get the customer or client to take some form of action. This may be something as simple as having them sign up for a webinar to something as complex as purchasing a major item.

When it comes to sales calls, there is warm calling and cold calling.

If at all possible, try to make warm calls, as they are much more likely to be well-received.

To make it a warm call, try to reach out first via email, social media or some other platform.

If you set up the call in advance, you’re more likely to receive a WARM welcome!

Sales calls can be a bit difficult for some people, and being a great salesperson over the phone is a skill in and of itself. If you're comfortable with making phone sales, great!

If not, you may want to consider sales courses, or even hiring a salesperson.

You can also learn more on other direct response marketing techniques (like sales emails and other techniques we are about to go over).

(RELATED: Are Sales Calls Still Relevant?)

#3: Opt-In Pages

Opt-in pages are a perfect example of direct response marketing that does not involve any direct sales.

Generally, opt-in pages give something away for “free” (or at a discount) in exchange for an email address. There is still an “ask,” and the marketer is still getting something valuable—it just isn’t always immediate money.


Example of opt-in page for eSCAPE


Opt-in pages can also ask for things like phone numbers, and this is great for marketers looking to warm call their customers!

To make even more money, many marketers will add a tripwire after their opt-in page.

This tripwire is a small sale to get the sales cycle going.

A good tripwire will encourage the customer to make an impulse buy, while not scaring them away.

Even if they don’t purchase the tripwire, you still have the opportunity to sell to them through their email!

(RELATED: What Is An Opt-In Page? And Why You Need One)


#4: Video Sales Letters

Video sales letters (VSLs) are videos that tease a particular solution and draw the audience in with amazing copy and storytelling.

The point of a VSL is to get the customer so excited that they feel like they absolutely need to purchase the product, sign up for the newsletter or get their “free” gift (which also generally requires them to sign up for a newsletter).


Example of a video sales letter page


Customers will often respond directly to VSLs because they build hype and also often create scarcity (frequently with a countdown timer).

VSLs can be long or short, but they should never be rushed.

A VSL should take the customer on a journey, and that journey should get them more and more excited. By the time the customer reaches the “payoff” of the video, they are ready and willing to sign up or purchase.

(RELATED: What Is A Video Sales Letter?)

What Is the Goal?

The primary goal of direct response marketing is to get the customer to take action.

Even the smallest action will condition the customer to start saying, “Yes.

Once you get them to say yes to a small ask, you can start upping the ask more and more. Eventually, the customer or client will be purchasing your top-tier products or services without thinking twice about it.


The other goal is to capture information and/or make sales.

A direct response marketing campaign isn’t built around branding or putting an idea in a customer's head. 

Instead, the goal is to get them to take immediate action.

By collecting information, a marketer can start sending customers follow-ups to increase the chances of a sale. They can also pitch the customer a smaller product to make a bit of money and get the customer used to buying from you.

This is often done through an email campaign or a warm calling campaign.

Remember, if the customer has already given you their information, they should be expecting to be contacted!

Keep in mind that all of this is predicated on being a good salesperson. Knowing what direct response marketing is won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to write the kind of copy that will get customers to click.

(RELATED: 162 Emotional Words And Phrases For Copywriting)

What You Need For A Successful Direct Response Marketing Campaign

There are a few different features that you’ll see with a direct response marketing campaign.

These include:

#1: The Ability to Track

A good direct response marketing campaign is easy to track. You should be able to see what is working and what isn’t with relative ease.

#2: Targeted

Unlike mass marketing, direct response marketing campaigns need to be deeply targeted.

You don’t want to throw away a bunch of money trying to get people that don’t have any interest in your product or service to click on a link or sign up for an opt-in.

Instead, a direct response marketing campaign should be targeted to reach specific customers to increase sales.

#3: Compelling Copy

It’s impossible to get a click without good copy!

All successful direct response marketing campaigns start with compelling copy (and end with sales!).

Start working on your copywriting skills and make sure you're writing the kind of copy that YOU would get hooked by.

Now that you understand some of the features your direct response marketing campaign should have, let’s look at some examples of direct response marketing.

(RELATED: Learn How To Copywrite With Our (Simple) 5-Step Copywriting Formula)

Now That You Know More About Direct Response Marketing

One of the best skils you can pick up in direct response marketing is copywriting. If you want to learn more about copywriting, Copywriting Bootcamp has some great free information for you.

You’ll learn exactly what you need to know to become a great copywriter, which in turn will lead to more direct responses!

(NOTE: Want even MORE info about how to use copywriting to grow your business? Grab your spot in this FREE course to learn about the tools and strategies you (and your business) have been missing out on.)