The basic concept of direct response marketing is simple. The customer clicks on the video or a button, and is taken directly to your business’ website.
The advantage of this kind of advertising is obvious. By getting a potential customer to visit your business directly after viewing the ad, the chances of turning an impression into a purchase are maximized.
For this to work, though, your ad has to actually get the person to stop what they’re doing and click. You’re not asking them politely to maybe, possibly visit your website at some vague point in the future. You’re demanding that they click that button right now!
This means you need to create a sense of urgency. You’re not dealing with the rational part of a person’s mind here. To create this kind of urgency, you need to tap into their emotions.
There are plenty of basic advertising tactics that already achieve this effect. For instance, there’s the Fear of Missing Out – “Limited time offer!” We’re not going to go over those kinds of tactics, since you can find them in any marketing guide.
We’re going to talk about how to create compelling, powerful ads that grab your audience’s attention and won’t let them go. Then, it gives them an urgent call to action (CTA) so they visit your website right away.
When properly executed, potential customers will be salivating to click the CTA button. After all, their hopes and dreams lie just one on the other side.
Tip #1 – Talk directly to your audience
If you’re trying to craft a compelling ad, the first step is understanding who your audience is. After all, you’re trying to grab their attention in mere seconds. If you’re going to do that, you need to craft a message that speaks to their hopes, fears, and desires.
Given all of this, you might expect that clickbait tactics would be the way to go. “See how this woman lost 100 pounds in three weeks! HINT: Anyone can do it.” That’s sure to trigger some powerful responses, right?
As a matter of fact, it might. And that would be bad.
The problem with clickbait is that it’s inherently deceptive. In other words, a large number of people who click the CTA button are going to be disappointed.
“Who cares?” you might be thinking. “I’ll still be maximizing views and gaining customers.”
This is true, but you’ll be wasting a lot of money in the process. When someone watches a YouTube ad to the end, watches for more than 30 seconds, or clicks through, you pay for that impression. If someone isn’t in your target audience, you actually want them to hit the “Skip” button.
Ideally, you want to open with something that’s highly relevant to your target audience. Get their attention right off the bat. Then, once the Skip button appears, hold their attention. Don’t leave the best part of the ad for the end.
The goal here isn’t to build to a satisfying climax. It’s to keep people hooked so they buy your product.
Keep in mind that the exact timing here is different depending on the platform. So not only do you need to know your target audience, you’ll also need to tailor your ad to each individual platform. This can be a bit costlier up front, but gets you much better value in the long run.
Tip #2 – Use fast pacing and gamification
So, you need to keep your audience’s attention. That’s great. How do you do that?
It’s impossible to offer a ton of specifics without knowing your target audience. That said, one nearly-universal method these days is to go with a fast-paced ad.
Use a lot of quick cuts and keep the action rolling. Don’t go crazy to the point that the video is completely incoherent. But in terms of screen time, even one second feels longer than it sounds like.
Another way to keep people’s attention is to gamify your ad. For instance, you could have a countdown timer next to the CTA button to add a sense of urgency.
Tip #3 – Hit the timing sweet spot
Another key part of a viral ad video campaign is timing. There’s no hard and fast rule here. You definitely get some leeway depending on what your message is.
In general, most web ads are going to be between 15 and 35 seconds. This falls in the sweet spot for YouTube, and falls in line with what people are used to seeing on TV.
Kinetic Social released a study of video completion rates depending on length. In their study, they found that the most-watched ads fell within a 30 to 60-second time window.
That said, even the Kinetic Social study comes with significant caveats. There were wide variations in ideal length depending on industry. For example, gaming ads generally performed better if they were shorter, while eCommerce ads could get away with being longer.
Tip #4 – Remember the call to action
We’ve kept talking about a CTA button, and that’s a great thing to have. But you know what else your ad needs? An actual call to action!
A call to action is the part of the ad where you ask your customer to buy, and it’s central to virtually every marketing strategy ever conceived. This much is probably obvious. As part of a call to action, it’s also essential to let potential customers know the next step in doing business.
This part is less obvious, and it’s what most beginners miss when developing a sales pitch. This may be because they think that the next step is obvious, or because they don’t want to be annoying. Don’t be shy! Speak up and tell people how to do business with you!
In a web video, a call to action can be as simple as “Click this video if you want to learn more,” or “To take advantage of this offer, click the link at the bottom of the video.” In a print ad, it can sound like “If you want to create a high-converting video ad campaign, Contact VisCap Media to schedule a free consultation.”
Tip #5 – Make it easy for customers to buy
When you’re advertising, it’s not just important to convince people to buy, or even to ask them to buy. You also need to make it as easy as possible. The easier it is for customers to remember your brand and make a purchase, the more likely you are to convert impressions into clicks, and clicks into customers.
On the web, the most obvious way to do this is to include a big button that says “Buy now!” But you could also make it as simple as clicking on the video itself. This is a matter of taste more than anything else. If you want to make things super-easy, you can do both.
Visible branding is another key component. Why? You want people to remember your brand. This is the internet, and weird things happen. Maybe they try to click your video, but fat-finger it and click something else instead. If they don’t remember your brand, they’ll have no way to find you.
Similarly, if you’re selling a physical product, the product itself should also be on screen. Not only will this make it easier to sell, it will be easier for people to find from outlets like Amazon.
Finally, avoid relying on audio for anything crucial. On many platforms, like Facebook, ads play without sound by default. This doesn’t mean your audio shouldn’t be meaningful. It just means that everything essential should have a strong visual element.