January 2008 - Channel Crossing: DRTV

DRTV Advertising: Winning With Websites

By Robert Yallen

There is no doubt that the consumer is a fan of the Internet-as a communications tool, a research source and a marketplace. But DRTV advertisers and marketers are still just warming up to it. Many have spent years so vested in the use of the inbound 800 number that they have only cautiously taken a swing at using websites as a response mechanism. And certainly they are reluctant to risk the whole game by exclusively employing URLs.

It’s time to determine if you are ready to change leagues. Should you stay with one pitch that has proven effective over time, or are you ready to try your hand in a fast-changing game where two different pitches can produce better results?

Generally, in order to qualify for direct response rates, stations required a response mechanism such as a telephone number. Today, stations now consider a URL an acceptable response mechanism.

This is good for many reasons: Websites offer a non-threatening source for consumers to obtain quick information. They’re a softer sell and easy to remember. We’re now a wireless society: consumers can now go online anywhere at their convenience. A web response mechanism is also less expensive than inbound telemarketing-even when the calls are directed offshore.

But are you setting yourself up for limited ROI if you exclusively use URLs as your response mechanism?

The answer is: You have to know your market, know the purchasing habits associated with your advertising segment and know your technology.

Know your market. Even though many consumers buy directly from websites, some customers first go to the advertiser’s website for more information and then call via an 800 number for more information before placing an order.

Use demographics to determine what type of response mechanism has the best chance of success. Following are key statistics from MRI’s 2007 study:

a) Older consumers’ use of online, while growing, is still lower (44 percent of all adults 55+) than younger adults (over 73 percent of adults 18-54).

b) Less affluent consumers’ use of online is also significantly lower (54 percent of all adults with a household income of less than $75,000) than those earning over $75,000 (88 percent).

c) Forty-five percent of women who go online have made a purchase, compared to only 41 percent of men.

Know the purchasing habits associated with your advertising segment. Some advertising categories have developed into an exclusively online model. The offers that work best using a web address only are those types of services utilizing a lead-generation model that are a true online play. For example, if you are trying to attract someone interested in educational courses that are only offered online, then it’s a natural for that type of individual to respond via the Internet.

If the advertiser is an online model-you need computer access to use the service-then it is counterproductive to use an 800 number in the ad. This results in fewer quality leads with purchaser potential.

We have tested different offers and for certain categories, we have obtained more leads using only a web address, compared to a web and 800 number. This demonstrates the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) at its best.

Our experience is that for the right lead-generation category, utilizing a web address only for certain sectors can actually increase results by up to 45 percent-as opposed to ads that contain an 800 number and a website address.

If the advertiser’s business model is both online and offline (inbound capable), then whether you use an 800 number or a web address depends upon the category of the advertiser. Some examples where including an 800 number is critical are with market segments that require more complicated purchasing decisions like the financial sector, mortgages, debt consolidation, auto insurance, military recruiting and other considered purchases. Consumers are more comfortable talking with a person, rather than solely gathering the information from a website.

Know your technology. Many companies are reluctant to utilize websites and vanity 800 numbers in DRTV commercials because they propose a challenge in tracking results. Traditionally, advertisers have relied upon the use of unique 800 numbers to identify and track. However, there is a big difference in tracking response from an 800 number and a URL. You need a tracking system that can simultaneously track various response mechanisms and variables. The latest version of our tracking and optimization program has been updated to be able to track commercials that utilize vanity 800 numbers and website, vanity 800 numbers alone, and/or website only.

Here’s how to optimize your success when using URLs exclusively:

  • Sell the URL in the call to action.
  • Use easy-to-remember URLs.
  • Don’t send prospects to the competition. If the domain name is close to another company, change the URL. Don’t simply add more onto the end of the URL and expect the consumer to find you.
  • Don’t use extensions after a URL for tracking. (i.e., www.home team.com/buynow.) They only confuse the consumer.

Are you ready for exclusivity? Give it a try and be sure to test the results before implementing the program. We’ve found that in many cases, it can be a winning strategy.

Robert Yallen is president of the Inter/Media Group of Companies in Encino, Calif. He can be reached at (800) TIME-BUY, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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