At this point in your career, you probably already know that you can’t constantly push your music and expect a powerful, positive response. You have to have a finely tuned mix of messages and content to keep your fans engaged. But there comes a time in every musician’s life/album release/merch launch/etc. when you need to create a strategy for promoting your wares.
Enter direct-response marketing. Basically, it does what its name claims: it provides a direct response to a specific command or prompt. This can be especially useful if you’re testing out a new sound, style, or even something as simple as a logo. In fact, you probably already use direct-response marketing without realizing it by asking your fans, “What do you think?”
But it’s time to take that to the next level and figure out how to use direct-response marketing to refine your messaging, particularly in the place where you’re probably doing the bulk of your advertising: social media.
How is direct-response marketing different from all other marketing?
I can hear you saying, “I feel like I already do direct-response marketing all the time.” It may feel that way. Each time you post a new track and say, “Check out my new song!” you’re requesting an action from your followers. But that’s not exactly direct-response.
When you encourage people to “check out your new song,” there’s no impetus or guarantee that they will. Also, you’re not asking them for a result. A better, more finely tuned direct-response way of asking could be, “Leave a one-word reaction to my new song in the comments below!” That way, you’re still asking them to listen to your track, but providing them with some sort of actionable item that’s tangible and, more importantly, can be measured.
Here’s how to create your own direct-response marketing plan.
1. Figure out the result you want
Try to work backwards and think about what you want to gain from your post before you even begin to draft it. Is it more likes? More comments? More streams? More ticket sales?
Whatever it is, it needs to be clear and concise in your own mind. Ideally, focus on a single objective so you don’t clutter your message and confuse your audience.
2. Create a compelling call-to-action
You get the gist of how this whole direct-response thing works, but how do you get people to actually do what you want them to do? In today’s social-media-saturated world, only the most eye-catching and can’t-miss content survives, which means you need a call-to-action (CTA) that will make your followers stop scrolling and act.
Remember these three points when developing your CTA:
- Keep it short
- Keep it snappy
- Keep it in the platform
In our example above, “Leave a one-word reaction to my new song in the comments below!” your ask is pretty low risk for your followers. A one-word comment takes up virtually no time; instead, their time is spent actually watching your video.
And by uploading your video directly to that specific platform (or embedding a YouTube video or SoundCloud link), this request requires no clicks outside of that post or platform, which is basically the best-case scenario for keeping their attention right where you want it for a few seconds.
3. Develop a measurement plan
A major component of direct-response marketing is the ability to accurately measure the outcome and attribute different campaigns (or posts, if you like) to different results. For this reason, it’s important that the goal you set in step one is is somewhat tangible.
Things like sales, downloads, and tickets are obviously pretty easy to measure. The trick is to be able to give credit to whatever sold those items.
The easiest way to do this is to measure your clicks through a trackable link-shortening service like bit.ly. Give each post or CTA its own bit.ly link. Then, later, when you’re analyzing what worked the best for that particular message (like, did “buy my band’s first single!” lead to more clicks from Facebook or Twitter?), you can log into your bit.ly account and clearly see which link led to more traffic. This will help you refine your CTAs the next time.
Returning to our example for a moment, your measurement plan could include the comments generated by your CTA, or the views or streams of your song. You can also take note of how many likes or reactions your overall post received, but try to stick to hard, fast numbers.
Direct-response marketing isn’t passive, so shake off that imposter syndrome and actually ask people for what you want. If that means literally asking people to buy your album, then by all means, ask away. Don’t feel like you’re overstepping, bothering, or offending people by giving them an actionable task. After all, they’re your fans for a reason.
Feel free to sprinkle in some soft-sell CTAs, too; direct-response marketing isn’t meant for day-in and day-out posting. Instead, save it for when you really need your fans to perform an action or when you need hard, measurable numbers for industry purposes.
And now, let’s end this with a direct-response CTA:
Have you had success using direct-response marketing tactics for your music? Let us know in the comments below!
Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.