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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Seeing the Forest Despite the Trees

1 Dec, 2013 By: Doug Garnett Response

I founded Atomic Direct in 1998 to pursue a DRTV future that retailers now call “omnichannel,” as they break down divisions between retail, Web and phone. After all, should you really care which channel the sale comes through? Consumers don’t.

But to embrace this omnichannel reality, DRTV testing must change. Even more, DRTV agencies need to learn and embrace a new sophistication in the analysis of our testing.

So in my third article this year on testing (Response, April and September), it’s time to look at this critical challenge for DRTV: testing in an omnichannel world.

DRTV’s Phone Obsession Can Kill Campaigns

Many companies decide whether a product will live or die based on phone sales with — maybe — a smattering of Web. The truth is that phone sales are merely one piece of the puzzle and typically account for 3 percent to 7 percent of the impact of a campaign. Together with Web, they may account for 8 percent to 15 percent of sales.

So if these sales don’t go well, it doesn’t mean you have a failure or are even close to a failure. All you know is that these sales didn’t go as well as you hoped.

That said, phone results are very useful and help you make the most of your campaign. Phone results should guide your media buyers to more cost-effective time slots or to use networks where audience numbers are limited.

And phones offer a marketing goldmine you’ll never get from traditional TV advertising: a chance to listen to consumers who saw your advertising and acted by calling a phone number.

Smart Testing for the Omnichannel Reality

In an omnichannel world, we need to consider impact through all sources — stores, phone and Web. And none of these channels should be ignored because there is powerful learning to extract from each.

But in testing the big picture, there are fundamentals to respect. It’s more expensive to see results in omnichannel, and it takes longer. While phone sales are instant, Web results can take a week. And the bulk of retail impact from one week’s airings may develop during the following month — or longer.

Even more critical, the omnichannel world tends to be noisy, filled with multiple sources of messages that drive sales. Separating out DRTV impact requires analytic sophistication.

Testing Discovers Profitable Truths

When we do this testing right, we discover success where less sophisticated testing might choose to see failure.

In one recent case, we had run a series of campaigns that returned a high level of direct and retail sales. For the same client, we introduced a different type of product using a similar campaign. But phone sales came in at about a tenth of what we expected from prior experience.

What did we do? Worry? Well, yes, of course. But we also waited for the total picture to emerge. The truth was that the campaign drove extraordinary levels of retail volume — volumes so high the campaign had to be pulled because the stores sold out.

The scary thought is that an impatient, phone-obsessed agency would have aborted what became a tremendously successful campaign.

So test without getting lost in the trees — test the entire omnichannel world. And get ready — because when you change your testing, you’ll find that more campaigns succeed. ■


About the Author: Doug Garnett

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