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9 Direct Response Strategies You Should Be Using to Increase Engagement and Sales

Looking to increase your sales?

Well then, it follows that increased engagement be a priority of yours, too. And the best way to increase engagement is to straightforwardly ask for it, direct response style.

"The best way to increase engagement is to straitforwardly ask for it, direct response style." ~Julie BoswellIf you’re like most digital marketers, you spend a lot of time and effort and money on the upfront interaction and then waste it by not circling back around at every opportunity.

Let’s change that. 🙂

The idea is to complete “a relationship circle” every chance you get.

Don’t just go for a linear or one-time interaction.

Get more engagement and further the relationship with every interaction. When you do that, you’ll EXPAND your reach and impact and get more sales at the same time.

So, here are nine direct response strategies to use to increase engagement and sales that you might be missing out on.

If you’ve already got the first few down, keep reading. Make sure you can say, “Yes, I’m doing that,” to all of these actions…

Direct Response Strategy #1: Tell Your Website Visitors to Do Something on EVERY Single Page

From your Home Page to your About Us Page, every page is an opportunity for engagement.

Every page is an opportunity for engagement.Take advantage of that and lead prospects exactly where you want them to go next with a call-to-action (CTA) on EACH of those pages.


Aside from the obvious “maximize the traffic that comes to your website,” you want to begin to train your audience to take the instructions you give them.

If you never ask your audience to do anything, they’re going to react with surprise when you ask them to pull out their wallet.

But if you ask them to engage with you every time you deliver content or information to them, then another ask is not unusual.

In fact, they’ll begin to EXPECT that your relationship is Give and Take, rather than them taking without giving back to you in some way.

Take the About Us Page for example. It’s often underutilized for this purpose.

Take a look at how Jeff Walker does it. There are not one but TWO opt-in opportunities at the top of his About Page:

Jeff Walker About Us Page

Then, at the very end of all the copy on this page, he triggers more engagement from the reader by leading them to his blog. And of course, there’s one more opt-in opportunity as well:

Jeff Walker About Us Page

Not only do you want to make an offer on all of your pages, you should…

Direct Response Strategy #2: Make an Offer with EVERY Interaction

Every handshake, every blog post, every podcast appearance – even if the offer is simply to “learn more about this at _____.”

"You're training your audience that their interactions with you are Give and Take."You do this for the same reason that you have a CTA on every page of your website: You’re training your audience that their interactions with you are Give and Take.

Here’s an email from famous podcaster John Lee Dumas. He sent this email out to his list most likely with the intention of offering inspiration and staying in touch with them on a regular schedule.

The email is short, sweet, and to the point. It offers up a “food for thought” type of inspirational message and that’s it. But he doesn’t just let it end there.

There’s a P.S. reminding his audience about an affiliate offer:

John Lee Dumas Email

Now, JLD isn’t selling anything here – he’s got a free video series that he’s promoting as an affiliate. But he’s still asking his list to opt-in and give their contact information in exchange for more content.

Another example?

Amazon sends confirmation emails with suggested upsells no matter what they’re confirming.

In the case below, my business partner ordered some supplies, and Amazon helpfully showed her related items in the shipping confirmation. 

Amazon Shipping Confirmation cross-sell

Amazon knows that every communication is an opportunity to increase the customer’s purchase total.

Which leads us to Strategy Number 3…

Direct Response Strategy #3: Use the Sidebar or Breaks on Your Blog to Make Offers

Neil Patel uses the sidebar well with a simple opt-in to get readers on his list.

Neil Patel Blog Sidebar Opt-In

Notice how you don’t have to relate the offer to the post (although you could).

The point is to simply capitalize on the attention that page is getting. The opt-ins he’ll get here will go through his funnel – when otherwise, they would have simply left without engaging.

As you’ve probably noticed, DigitalMarketer uses IN-LINE advertising to engage with their readers and increase response.

In the example below, they’ve placed a relevant ad for a certification that matches the content of the blog post.

DigitalMarketer Blog CTA

This allows them to monetize the traffic they’re already getting AND maximize that profit by creating relevant offers.

The next strategy comes from a source you can bring with you at all times…

Direct Response Strategy #4: Put a Response Mechanism on Your Business Card

Don’t only put your URL, phone number, or email address on your business card. Include an actual offer and a URL to get the offer!

We all go to events, right?

There’s Traffic & Conversion, Content & Commerce, Dell World, F8, INBOUND and a whole host of other events that are full of your potential…

  • Clients
  • Affiliates
  • JVs
  • Strategic connections
  • Mentors/mentees

Use your business card to make an offer!

There is no reason you can’t drive traffic to your Lead Magnet on a business card.

Parthiv Shah, a DigitalMarketer Certified Partner, does this with his book – offering a FREE copy on the back of his business card:

Parthiv Shah Business Card

And, I do the same thing on the reverse of my business card:

Julie Boswell Business Card

A quick headline and a URL to get your offer. Now, that’s using business card real estate wisely. 🙂

Next, make sure you…

Direct Response Strategy #5: Put a CTA on Your Signs

If you exhibit at a tradeshow or conference, put a CTA on every single one of your marketing materials.

You never know who is going to be walking past your location, not engaging with you directly, but still interested in what you have to say.

Check out the display below:

Conference display with signs that have a CTA

Nothing fancy or high tech about what he’s doing, but this guy is getting it done with a very clear CTA.

You might not be able to read his fine print, but you can see the phone number!

Do your signs have a clear CTA? A phone number? A URL? Every one of them?

Or, like the example below shows, you can use your signs to capture lead information.

Conference display with signs to capture lead information

Once someone engages in conversation with you, encourage them to give you their information, so you can follow up with them later.

The example above used a QR code to take passers-by to a landing page (and also provided the URL for people without a barcode scanner – smart!), so they could collect their information.

At my booth at Content & Commerce 2016, I did the same thing and created a sign to advertise my Lead Magnet for people who didn’t stop and have a conversation with us.

Julie Boswell Content & Commerce Summit 2016 sign

The service we used to make this happen is Textedly and starts at a whopping $10/month.

If you exhibit regularly, especially at high traffic events like Traffic & Conversion or Content & Commerce, it makes sense to have something like this in place to capture all the passers-by who don’t have time to stop and talk to you.

While we’re on the subject of events, let’s talk about a direct response strategy you can use from the stage…

Direct Response Strategy #6: Give Them Multiple Ways to Connect with You

If you speak in front of a crowd and you’re NOT allowed to pitch, close by inviting the audience members to meet you at the restaurant, bar, or hallway on a break to ask their questions.

In fact, whether or not you’re pitching, give your audience multiple ways to connect with you.

This is a strategy we use in direct response marketing all the time – multiple response mechanisms. We don’t just provide a phone number to call; we provide…

  • An email address
  • A physical address
  • A URL
  • A fax number

Don’t confuse this with giving multiple CTAs. There is ONE CTA: Get in touch with me. You’re just giving them multiple ways to do that.

"Inviting them to meet with you adds that personal touch that can turn leads who are on the fence into buyers." ~Julie BoswellWhen you’re on a stage, giving people multiple ways to connect with you increases the likelihood that they will connect at all.

After all, if they’re not quite ready to buy your product but want to talk to you about done-for-you services or an affiliate opportunity, simply handing them an order form isn’t enough to get that job done.

And inviting them to meet with you adds that personal touch that can turn leads who are on the fence into buyers.

Next, what are you doing to…

Direct Response Strategy #7: Get Their Contact Info the First Time

Every brand opportunity you go for should also include a way to capture the traffic and further the relationship, even if the prospects don’t convert immediately.

To do this, drive people to a URL that will require an email capture before visitors get what they came for.

For instance, you could create a retargeting pixel to capture the traffic from your website and remarket to them on Facebook – driving that traffic to a Lead Magnet which then also gets you their email address. And now you can market to them where they are – their inbox and News Feed.

Why is this important? "The warmer the lead, the closer you are to the sale."

When someone visits your website or sees your signage for the first time, they’re cold traffic. They don’t know anything about you and they inherently don’t trust you.

But, when they repeatedly see you in their News Feed and get content from you in their inbox, they’ve begun to warm up.

The warmer the lead, the closer you are to the sale. 

But warming up your lead takes time.

Ethical Nag reminds us of marketing expert Dr. Jeffery Lant’s Rule of Seven: You must contact your buyers a minimum of seven times in an 18-month period for them to remember you.

That’s seven touches (interactions) before someone is ready to buy from you. In some instances, it takes a lot more.

And if you don’t capture the traffic through retargeting or gather their contact information on Interaction #1, you’ll NEVER get to Interaction #7.

One field that is brutally competitive and requires a great deal of trust is real estate.

This agent created a response mechanism where the passerby can request more information on the listing – which then captures their information and she has a potential buyer lead, starting her first interaction with the person.

Realtor Sign that captures leads' information

Next, we’ll move onto why email isn’t the only mail you should be sending…

Direct Response Strategy #8: Use Direct Mail

No matter how “digital” your business is, if you’ve got buyers, you’ve got addresses.

"No matter how 'digital' your business is, if you've buyers, you've got addresses."And while your customers may be used to you contacting them online, it’s proven that using multi-media touches increases response.

So, use direct mail to upsell and cross-sell your existing customers into other programs and offers.

They’ve already shown you that they’ll buy from you, perhaps it’s time to make the relationship more intimate and show up in their mailboxes and not just in their inboxes or on their News Feed.

Another benefit to direct mail: Mailboxes are sitting empty.

Sometimes I check my mail and have two or three pieces of mail for the entire day. But my email inbox? That’s another story entirely. 🙂

If your prospects are like most, they’re receiving 121 emails each day. Because your email is competing with hundreds of other messages per day, your email has a greater chance of getting lost in the shuffle – and the same goes for Facebook.

But you can capitalize on fewer direct mails being sent daily, giving your message a better chance to stand out and resonate with your audience.

Here’s an example of a direct mail that you should be able to work into your business.

This is a sales letter I wrote for my very first private client, the famous personal development coach, Dani Johnson.

I can’t believe I’m showing this as I was a total rookie when I wrote this. 🙂

But, this strategy is a great example for you hardcore digital folks out there who would never dream of going offline.

Dani sent this sales letter as a ride-along piece inside the package that delivered a physical product:

Julie Boswell's direct mail example

Which brings us to our final direct response strategy…

Direct Response Strategy #9: Focus on Your Product’s Benefits, Not its Features

This is especially important for all you listing products on Amazon who think this type of direct response copy doesn’t apply to you.

Go beyond the product specs in your product descriptions and bullets, and include within the copy what’s in it for them. Tell them why they should care about what’s included.

Communicate how this will take them from their Before state – where they are unhappy, dissatisfied, or lacking something in some way – to their After state – where their life has changed and improved with the use of your product.

The Before and After State

(RELATED: Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business)

Here’s an excerpt of copy I recently wrote for a weight loss product that shows how you can transform your bullet list into a BENEFIT list …

Weight loss product bullet list example

Essentially, your job is to make sure that every benefit of what you offer is fully explained.

Keep Homer Simpson in mind as you do this:

  • He gets very confused and can’t quite figure things out on his own.
  • He’s a good guy, so DON’T talk down to him.
  • But DO explain it all very clearly to him. He won’t think of it on his own.

This is how you have to approach communication with your market. Assume nothing. Spell it all out. "Your job is to make sure that every benefit of what you offer is fully explained."

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to audit your websites and your funnels to clean house on any erroneous copy that’s not benefit-driven.

(RELATED: How to Write Sales Copy Like a Pro (Even if You’re a Rookie))

While you’re at it, take a look at your signage, your business cards, how you handle things from the stage, and how you handle your relationships in general.

Are your prospect and customer interactions circular or linear?

Go back through this list and inject some direct response mojo into your marketing using direct response strategies wherever possible.

Do that work now to complete the circle and ever interaction you have with your market will have a MUCH BETTER chance of growing your business.

Julie Boswell

Julie Boswell

Julie operates a copywriting and consulting business she cofounded,, a company dedicated to providing a second set of eyes for business owners.  Their focus is on teaching the fundamentals of direct response copywriting, reviewing and providing feedback for improvement, as well as providing done-for-you copywriting services.

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