BB&BS – Direct Response Marketing Is Broken (sacred cow slaughter)

so, you’re using the good ol’ Internet to attract prospects, customers and clients.

and in doing so, you’ve probably realized (or ‘been realized’;-) that you’re basically doing ‘direct response marketing‘, namely:

you put out some content, ideally with a call-to-action, and then …

… either your prospects, customers and clients respond or they don’t.

Direct, immediate response.

Here’s the fundamental problem:

you’re being taught that HIGH RESPONSE = GOOD RESPONSE.

“hey, legally steal this top-performing optin-form that consistently has 72%+ optin-rates”…

“hey, use these magic subject line templates, and you’ll get 81% open rates…”

“hey, ….”

Sound familiar?

And it’s all re-enforced even more by Google and the other big advertising platforms:

  • they REWARD you for high click-through-rates (CTR) in the form of low cost per click (CPC)
  • Gmail rewards you for having high open rates (actually, they punish you for having low open rates by banishing your emails to the promotions, or worse, the spam-folder …)

So, what do 99% of all marketers do?

Google calls, and they jump.

And optimize everything for high CTRs, open-rates, …

And that’s precisely where you are unwittingly sabotaging all your marketing efforts!

So here’s why HIGH RESPONSE does NOT equal GOOD RESPONSE (and why you should NEVER aim for high CTRs/open rates)

Direct response marketing is broken

Let’s begin with email and the ‘subject line’ debate.

Here’s the fundamental truth:

if someone doesn’t open your email, they’ll never read the content, and they definitely won’t click on your link.

So, the BEST thing to do is optimize your subject lines for maximum opens.

Or so they tell you…

Here’s what they’re not telling you:

whether someone reads your email or not has precious little to do with your subject line!



How dare he…

Fact is:

(and anyone who’s done email marketing to an audience that uses their brain (instead of just randomly clicking links because they’re bored or have no clue what they’re doing and why they’re doing it …) will tell you this)

first and foremost, your subscribers open your emails because they’re from YOU!

Because YOU’ve made the effort to provide value, to build a relationship, to establish an environment of mutual trust and respect.

If it weren’t so boring, I could send out the same subject line every day (“today’s email…” … heck, I should just test that …) and still get the same open rates.

Big take-away:

forget about the good ol’ (regurgitated) wisdom:

“good copywriters spend 80% of their effort on creating great headline/subject line”.

They do it because they typically speak to a COLD audience!

when you build and nurture a list, you have a WARM audience (well, you should if you do it right…), so you should spend 80% of your effort on making your prospects think:

“oh, that email is from [YOU], I really want to open it (no matter what the subject line)”

Looking at it from another angle (the perspective of ‘DIRECT RESPONSE MARKETING’)

nowhere does it say ‘open rate’ in ‘direct response marketing’.

It’s all about RESPONSE.

And that particular magic happens when someone CLICKS on a link in your email.

and that only happens if people (either are bored and don’t know what they’re doing, either way, not a great audience to have),…

… or …

if they know you, like you and TRUST you.

and that has very little to do with clever subject lines!

Time to turn another sacred cow into fine rib-eye steak: The higher the CTR to your ad, the better.

sacred cow of direct response marketing - CTRs is what matters

Yes, there may be one or two exceptions (namely where an ‘Interest’ on FB, or a particular search-phrase on Google is so laser-targeted on a problem a particular target audience experiences, that you end up with the perfect Traffic-to-Offer-Match (TOM)).

But,  in the real world, for every case where this is true, I can show you 10  cases where you get insanely high optin rates because you’re BEGGING & BRIBING.

“Please, please please gimme your email in exchange for possibly winning a set of aromatherapy oils/iPhone/free beer for a year”

Makes a wonderful case-study … “how I managed to get the cost per subscriber down to 5 measly cents“.

Yes, but they subscribed to you because they want to win a freakin’ set of aromatherapy oils/iPhone/free beer, not because they’re interested in your info-products.

(side-note: same goes for Webinars: you can pat yourself on the back all day long for keeping people on the webinar ‘right to the end’ … it’s because you BRIBED them with the chance of winning an iPad….)

They came for the free stuff, and not for the wonderful product, service or opportunity you REALLY wanted to put in front of them.

Which basically makes you the same as yer average (tourist-trap) NYC camera store-owner: (lol, try finding a stock photograph of a typical dodgy NYC camera store, no luck…;-)

“ah, what you really wanted was a camera AND the battery AND the user-manual. Say what, you also want the warranty? Well, that’s gonna cost ya extra”

Which adds “Bait ‘n Switch” to “Begging & Bribing”

The 3 B’s of getting Google-pleasing CTRs: “Begging, Bribing & Bait’n Switch”

(short BBB, or BB&BS;-)

Just as an example: Jonathan Mizel and Tim Gross found in their own testing (and they’ve done several MILLION $ worth of it) that in all cases a higher optin rate equates to a lower conversion rate.

alright, enough slaughter of sacred cows for one day.

Here’s your action plan:

  1. Focus 80% of your effort on making YOU (or your offer) an attractive proposition, and make it transparent from the word go, so you get those involved who are into YOU and what YOU have to offer.
  2. start tracking (and measuring) end-to-end. High CTRs are great for the ego, in practice rubbish for your bank-balance, even when the clicks get cheaper…
  3. Begin with ‘the end in mind’ as hinted at in yesterday’s post – and build your funnels from the core value proposition backwards (take note if you’re still building a list and ‘THEN trying figure out how to monetize it later‘!)

Going foward, if there’s enough demand, I may put together an “Direct Ideal Response Marketing” course.

Covering things like

  • how NOT do come across as yer average ‘bait ‘n switch’ marketer so you can connect to your ideal clients (and focus on serving them instead of trying to please everyone)
  • how to build the Know-Like-and-Trust factor ethically and quickly, without bribing or begging
  • how to set up end-to-end testing & tracking, so you can identify the real ‘pockets of gold’ where you can provide massive value (and get paid handsomely in return)
  • maybe even how to structure Webinars in such a way that you don’t get that dreaded “eek, they’re trying to sell me something” response, but instead have people genuinely engaged, all without the use of bribes, bait ‘n switch, nasty (sales-)surprises …

but hey, only if there’s enough demand:

 [thrive_2step id=’2122′]If you’re interested, let me know by clicking here![/thrive_2step]




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  1. […] 73% (again, totally made up number) of those then use it incorrectly, as illustrated in the ‘direct response marketing is broken‘ […]

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