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Direct to Digital

Members of ERA’s Digital Council share some of their guiding principles for the digital direct response landscape.

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Direct to Digital

ERA’s Digital Council has attracted participants from every sector of the industry who are eager to build and share thought leadership on enhancing direct response’s effectiveness across digital and social channels. ER asked several council members about their companies’ roles in the digital marketplace, and to share some of their tips on creating an effective presence in digital media. Here’s what they said.

Sergio Myers

Senior Creative Director
Surging Media Group, Council Chair

 

Q: What is your company’s position in the digital direct marketing landscape?

A: Surging Media Group creates direct response TV and digital content for product manufacturers and international distributors worldwide.

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: The introduction of the digital market left many companies dazed and confused. A lot of the people we’ve spoken with over the past seven years had absolutely no idea what to do. Some turn to Facebook ads, but find little to no success, while others search for other, costly methods while ignoring ROI. That is a recipe for disaster.

We must think of digital not as the enemy of DRTV, but simply as another channel to reach the consumer. It’s all about seeding the product and/or brand in order to gain a loyal customer, not simply a quick sell. Digital aids in this process by giving you multiple ways to reach consumers.

“We must think of digital not as the enemy of DRTV, but simply as another channel to reach the consumer.” —Sergio Myers, Senior Creative Director, Surging Media Group

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: In the digital era, content is king. Product companies need to rethink their positions on what has worked over the last 30 years—the old see-and-sell method—and expand their reach across all channels to adjust to new shopping habits.

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: Embrace the new era; don’t simply buy an ad on a popular social media site. Control your content and the content that’s shared across channels. Think of what the consumer sees first when they decide on a purchase. Most importantly, don’t forget about ROI. You can’t survive on “likes” and “shares” alone.


Lindsey Carnett

CEO & President
Marketing Maven

 

Q: What is your company’s position in the digital direct marketing landscape?

A: Marketing Maven believes that content is king. But it is relevant content that is served up to the right consumer at the right place and the right time to drive a meaningful action (i.e. product purchase) that is most valuable. With the necessity for multiple touchpoints to convert a sale online, a multipronged, digital strategy is more valuable than ever, [including] social media, digital ads with targeted messaging, product reviews, editorial coverage, regular blog posts, traffic conversion sites, reputation management, an easy-to-use shopping cart, mobile customization, etc.

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: Digital has enhanced DRTV and retail pushes. Consumers now have the opportunity to engage with brands on multiple screens. Many times, they are doing investigative research on the brand during or immediately after a television airing. In the in-store environment, consumers can read reviews to validate their buying decisions.

Likewise, product marketers have a plethora of tools and data at their fingertips. For example, geofencing via mobile can help a marketer target a consumer who falls within the target demographic of a product within a certain radius of a retail location and incentivize that person with an ad to come into the store to purchase. Data from digital marketing is affording consumers customized shopping experiences and providing valuable feedback to marketers about buying behavior.

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: It might sound obvious, but a good website is key to a direct response marketer’s digital presence. You’d be surprised how many product marketers have websites that are difficult to navigate, don’t utilize good shopping carts, take too long to load, and aren’t mobile-friendly. These are key to ensuring that the digital marketing you are doing converts into sales!

Other must-haves are a positive online reputation; legitimate, trustworthy reviews to help improve online conversions; updated, relevant social media content; and great customer service on every social media channel. Consumers are watching the timeliness of your responses, how you treat your customers, and how transparent you are.

Q: How can marketers stay on top of new developments in online and digital retail?

A: [ERA members] have access to the monthly webinar series Marketing Maven created in partnership with ERA to reveal best practices in social media marketing/advertising and digital content marketing. Joining the Digital Council is another great way to stay on top of the latest trends.

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: Abide by any new laws and always be testing. If you are set in your ways, you will get left behind. The only way to determine best practices is to take calculated risks and determine what makes financial sense to scale.


Christopher S. Crook

Attorney
Venable LLP

 

Q: What is your company’s position in the digital direct marketing landscape?

A: [As] a law firm specializing in DR, we run the gamut from helping marketers structure and negotiate deals to substantiating advertising claims. We also have deep knowledge regarding new web technologies, and help marketers navigate sales strategies through online channels while protecting themselves from online pitfalls [in areas such as] privacy, data security, and claims substantiation.

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: When I speak to millennials about going to the store to pick something up, they look at me like I’m crazy. Nowadays, a huge segment of the market wants to purchase a product using as few clicks as possible, rather than taking the time to go to a store.

Also, it has become the exception rather than the rule that an 800 number is featured on a spot. Most ads now push to a URL. Product reviews have also become more important for DR products, as consumers have more information to research their purchases before ultimately making them online.

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: From a legal perspective, a marketer must have solid and substantiated claims. A marketer can have all the sales in the world, but if they are based upon a false claim, much of that money—maybe even all of it—is at risk from government and competitor lawsuits.

To say that DR campaigns move quickly is an understatement; legal advice needs to be able to move at the speed of business. That’s why having someone who is well-versed in advertising law (whether in-house or outside) and can spot issues before they arise is critical.

Q: How can marketers stay on top of new developments in online and digital retail?

A: Participate in industry events. If marketers stay in a silo, cut off from the rest of the industry, they will quickly miss out on new and prevailing technologies. Organizations like ERA provide much-needed educational events [and] publications such as ER and its blog to keep them up to speed.

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: Don’t be afraid of change. The quicker a marketer (or lawyer) moves from his or her comfort zone and learns the latest and greatest technology, the quicker that person will be in a position to provide high-quality services to his or her client.


Curtis Kleinman

Payment Processing Specialist

 

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: Marketers must include digital marketing strategies along with traditional media. It’s the only way to maximize the success of a campaign, leaving no money on the table.

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: Having a search engine-optimized website is essential. Having fraud detection programs in place and providing chargeback alerts will save you a fortune.

“Marketers must include digital marketing strategies along with traditional media.” —Curtis Kleinman, Payment Processing Specialist

Q: How can marketers stay on top of new developments in online and digital retail?

A: Savvy marketers stay on top of digital marketing trends by attending conferences emphasizing e-commerce and affiliate-driven sales. Interview as many vendor companies as possible. Ask for a proposal based on your product and marketing objectives. You will get different perspectives and lots of free, valuable insights back.

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: Merchants must grow campaigns slowly and cautiously. Buying too many leads and building a large volume of sales quickly can lead to chargeback trouble. Do research on companies you’re considering using. Analyze all sources of your sales revenue.


Ava Seavey

Queen Bee
Avalanche Creative Services

 

Q: What is your company’s position in the digital direct marketing landscape?

A: As a longtime producer of TV commercials, I saw the writing on the wall about 2010. I thought I’d better open a digital division, as it felt that direct selling would be moving in that direction. Avalanche has now evolved to being fully digital in the sense that some of our clients are not even on TV, but are only doing digital advertising.

We strive to form a creative and cohesive strategy between all media that the marketer is engaged in. If that’s TV and digital, the goals and objectives must be clearly understood upfront, and the look and style should also be cohesive. We, as an industry, should be the leaders in the ROI direct digital landscape, as we have been working [with an] ROI mentality for decades.

When we design creative for the digital landscape, we frame the content in a different way than brand advertisers do. It is about being able to read results, tracking, optimizing, and understanding attribution as best we possibly can.

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: Digital technology has changed traditional DRTV in every conceivable fashion. Digital technology allows us to make the best use of traffic that would otherwise not have converted, and allows us to make more sales online via retargeting than we were able to do before. With the pixels and tracking that are available now and the sophistication of understanding where the traffic is coming from, we can enhance the ability to connect and engage with consumers in ways that we could not just a few years ago.

We can also appeal to them through other avenues like social media, where they may have [a higher] comfort level. Also, many consumers who see a TV or digital ad will automatically look on Amazon and purchase there. While this makes attribution much more challenging, it gives more options to engage with, and sell to, consumers.

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: Certainly, anyone with a brand should develop a presence on Facebook, and for certain targets, Instagram, as well. I also believe that even if you are marketing exclusively in a digital domain, a call center is critical to being able to address customers’ questions and concerns, and some folks still want to order with a person rather than through a computer. The personal touch and that link to the consumer are more critical now than ever.

Q: How can marketers stay on top of new developments in online and digital retail?

A: The constant whirl and change in the digital landscape is enough to give anyone whiplash. A marketer needs to engage with vendors who immerse themselves in the new technology on a daily basis. Also, reading articles in publications that highlight trends is really critical for anyone marketing to consumers today.

“The personal touch and that link to the consumer are more critical now than ever.” —Ava Seavey, Queen Bee, Avalanche

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: Our guiding principle for digital is the same as it has always been for TV: Research. Data. More research. More data. The best creative comes from the most knowledge, and from really understanding who your target is and what you want from them. Being cute and clever and hoping that your wacky video “goes viral” is not a proper strategy. It might not be as sexy to craft a video that won’t go viral because it contains some selling element, but a strong balance sheet can be pretty sexy as well.


Lori H. Zeller

Managing Partner
THOR Associates

 

Q: What is your company’s position in the digital direct marketing landscape?

A: We provide integrated, traditional transactional marketing and create multichannel initiatives in DRTV, digital, radio, print, retail, international, and home shopping to build brands and roadmap ROI. We know how to engage, inspire, and excite a target audience; connect them to a brand [and] message; and most importantly, generate a lead/transaction that provides conversion to sales and brand recognition.

Q: How has digital technology changed the “traditional” DRTV or retail push?

A: The technology that is a game-changer is programmatic modeling, where consumers and customers are targeted and delivered specific advertising.

Q: What are the must-haves for a direct response marketer’s digital presence today?

A: Attribution, testing, financial support (budgets that allow for optimization, change and programmatic testing), [and a] client understanding that traditional marketing is the “halo” for digital. E-commerce is reliant on mass-media drivers.

Q: How can marketers stay on top of new developments in online and digital retail?

A: Marketers can stay on top of new developments by going to trade shows such as IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition), reading opinions and digital analytic case studies, and following thought leadership on e-commerce.

Our responsibility to clients is to stay a step ahead of the game to achieve ROI while making sure that the past supports current trends. For example, we recently attended a Google Brand Lab seminar addressing the effect of the colors of the click-now button on a landing page. We constantly A/B test offers and meet with our internal teams to focus on where we can improve our recommendations.

Q: When it comes to digital initiatives, what is your guiding principle?

A: At THOR, our guiding principal is to maintain consistency for the consumer journey. We are continuously looking at web attribution models and are committed to making the user experience a vehicle for brand loyalty and purchasing power.