Politics, Trolls, and Direct Response Marketing

Do you want a reaction or a response

A writing teacher once told me:

It is easy to get a reaction. If you want to get a response that requires a great deal more skill.

moving an audience towards a targeted goalMoving an audience to a predetermined desired action is the basis of direct response marketing. During election season that sometimes gets confused, and it most certainly gets louder.

Both sides are generating extreme reactions, but more importantly, they are also generating extreme responses along the way. I would like to believe that this is not intended as direct response marketing, although ultimately I know it is. The ultimate goal of all of this is to provide enough of the right information to allow the individual solidify his or her own views, and engage them enough to take action: to vote for their guy.

Sometimes that means stirring the pot.


image from Pluperfector Blog by Steven Streight

If you have spent any time on forums or social media you undoubtedly have come across what we fondly refer to as trolls. Trolls strategically put an outrageous statement out there, typically to a group of engaged users who support an opposite opinion, and then with a few stirs here and there, watch as the discussion unravels.

A good web troll doesn’t hit and run. A good web troll stays and fans the fire, stokes the flames a bit to encourage the others when it dies down, but assimilates, at least a little, into the audience itself to be part of the group prior to starting the flame.

Sales Conversion FunnelLike a good troll, a good direct response marketer knows the desired outcome, but unlike a mere troll, it isn’t just to incite a rage discussion on a forum. A good direct response marketer knows each step and tracks each step, from the responses to the original enticement (a subject line on an email, text copy on a search ad, a tweet, a comment on a topic in a forum), to the offer (the content on a landing page, the call to action, the offer in exchange for signing up). Each step is tracked with it’s own metrics, and supported by content to drive the user through each step of the funnel, to get to the end result, the predetermined success conversion for the initiative.

Vote The political strategists are doing the same thing. They are getting the messages out there, engaging and enticing their supporters. More specifically they are engaging those potential voters who are not yet decided, or not motivated enough to vote. Their rally calls are the calls to action. Their surveys and polling are their analysis for optimizing. They have their list of KPIs (key performance indicators) that they have determined are most important and likely to sway voters. These are used to fine tune messages, deliver more content tailored to different audiences, and invisibly guide their base to the voting booths.

Direct response marketing is educating, convincing. It’s two way marketing, across multiple touch points, offering the same underlying message through different content, approaches and platforms, to reach the desired goals. Marketers learn from their audiences and tailor their messages to what the customer is telling them is important. It’s a longer process than direct advertising, but when done right, it generates more educated, more loyal customers

It’s just a little loud in some industries, especially around this time of year.