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Direct Response Marketing

Net Gains: Hitting the New Demographic

1 Aug, 2008 By: Austin Van Horn Response

Since the beginning of advertising, businesses have defined target consumers using a number of criteria. These demographics include, but are not limited to age, gender, income, race, geography, household type (single family home, apartment, etc.), education and lifestyle group. However, in today's age of "empowered consumers," a new demographic has emerged. This new demographic describes the ability of a consumer to use technology to react to advertising and respond — "technical ability level." There are five general demographic levels into which a consumer may fall:

› "Notechs" — These individuals do not have access to new communication technology.

› "Tech rejects" — These individuals reject the use of new technology.

› "Tech novices" — These individuals use technology as if it is still in its infancy, utilizing Internet search and E-mail at strictly a basic level (many still use a low-speed, dial-up connection).

› "Tech experts" — These individuals use the Internet regularly to check E-mail, browse for information, view videos at YouTube, and get instant news, sports and weather information; are not up on all the latest communication concepts, including social networking, texting, blogs and more.

› "Tech lifers" — These individuals are immersed in technology and adept at all forms of new electronic communication styles including social networking, blogging, IM, Web calling, phone cameras, video text and more; are the earliest adopters and heaviest users of new technology hardware and rely on it for managing their lives.

Austin Van Horn
Austin Van Horn

In the mid-1990s, a technological revolution began that has forever changed the way consumers choose to interact with call-to-action messages. The Internet began to proliferate as a commercial means of conveying information, accepting orders, and for personal and mass communication.

Since the beginning of this decade, new uses of technology have blossomed as consumers have adopted new communication platforms. Today, the learning curve has reached critical mass for use of the Internet in commercial transactions. Consumer behavior has changed. Segments of today's consumer base are as likely to go to a Web site to interact with a call-to-action as initiate a phone call or mail an order. This makes tracking and measuring results for a campaign more complex.

To fully measure the return on media investment, it has become vital to offer mail, phone, or interactive Web site response mechanisms. A strategy across various media, integrated with a multi-point contact platform, will ensure advertising dollars are fully tracked and measured for effectiveness.

Today's empowered consumers demand choice in how they interact with you. Many prospects will seek to learn more about companies and their products via the Internet before calling, writing or making an online transaction. They will visit a product Web site, view blogs, check with friends in social forums, and E-mail for references. Yet, many still prefer to use traditional methods of communication.

When planning an advertising campaign, it is vital to understand who comprises the best prospects to target using this new demographic as it is to consider age, gender, income, and socio-economic qualities. Developing media and creative strategies based on how to target each segment on the technical ability scale is crucial to how they choose to respond.

Advertisers must create Web microsites for each campaign or marketing effort. Tests have indicated that Web microsites designed and built with as much care and thought as call center scripts deliver greater results. In one specific test, the campaign results saw a 2-to-1 advantage of qualified leads generated on the customized Web microsite than came from the call center. Microsites are key as basic corporate Web sites do not meet the demands of today's active consumer.

Consumers feel empowered to demand choice. Consider adopting an advertising strategy that takes into consideration how much technical ability consumers have. Develop media plans that appeal to consumerd where they can be found while offering them the opportunity to respond with the method they choose.

Austin Van Horn is in business development at Affiliated Advertising in Jacksonville, Fla. He can be reached via E-mail at
or via telephone at (904) 642-8902, ext. 246.

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