Fantasy Football. Coffee makers. A tiny CPAP. A walking cane.
Ten years ago, no one would have guessed that any of these product categories had a fighting chance in direct response advertising. Historically, direct response marketing has been dominated by products and services that decisively solve universal problems. Weight loss. Hair loss. Acne. Aging. Debt. The bigger the immediate pain, the easier it is to persuade consumers to act now. Leverage compelling offers and proven messaging strategies and you’ll be shocked at how quickly strangers can become paying customers.
The allure of DR advertising for marketers has never been stronger. Advertisers are doing everything they can to shorten the arduous and expensive courtship involved in attracting new customers. Direct response’s ability to deliver an immediate return on investment gives advertisers the confidence and the cash to grow faster than they ever thought possible.
The internet revolution is rapidly transforming the DR advertising landscape and making scores of DR categories suddenly viable. Products that had never been advertised directly to consumers are now commanding ad space on traditional media channels like radio and TV with stunning success.
The classic direct response principles that provoke consumers to take action are as crucial as ever, but the transformation of the online marketplace has created tremendous new opportunity for anyone willing to seize it.
In this series, we’re going to explore the top three emerging direct response advertising categories best positioned to see dramatic growth in 2016.
No.3: Online Education
DR categories emerge in the wake of fresh consumer pain points, and education has a score of them. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed by more than 538 percent since 1985. Tuition has been rising almost 6 percent above the rate of inflation. Since 2007, wages have remained stagnant, making all of the costs associated with college backbreaking for families.
Social media has raised alarms for high school students trying to make tough college decisions. They’re reading harrowing tales from their post-grad peers buckling under their student loan debt. The outlook for grads trying to land jobs out of school is bleak; they’re furious and vocal about it—venting on Facebook and Twitter. Seeing from their peers how crippling a student loan payment can be, high school students and families are frantically searching for more affordable options.
To make matters worse, the traditional college diploma that was once a golden ticket into opportunity and employment has lost its power. Employers are looking for real-world work experience and will turn away graduates with a diploma and a clean slate. In a recent study, employers viewed an internship as the single most important credential for recent grads; above grades, major, or even the school they attended.
Educational Problems Meet Direct Response Solutions
With more and more families asking if the four-year brick-and-mortar college experience is worth the price of admission, advertisers are primed to speak to their doubts and offer a compelling solution. The benefits of an online education cut through the advertising clutter like a knife.
Families can educate their kids at a fraction of the price by saving on tuition, room and board, travel and countless other expenses associated with college. Students can get their degree on their own time at their own pace. The lower cost of entry allows students to be more exploratory in their education and find the field that’s right for them. Students can more easily pursue any degree without being blocked from popular classes. An online curriculum also allows universities to be more nimble and develop coursework designed to better prepare students for employment after graduation.
The generation entering college today has never known life without the internet. They are already accustomed to doing virtually everything online. From an educational standpoint, they already do the vast majority of their research online, they submit assignments online and many high school students are even already taking courses for college credit online. Never in our history has a generation been better poised to take advantage of a fully online college experience.
Education’s Massive Audience
Another key to a successful DR advertising category is having a large audience, and the consumer base for online education is far larger than you might think. Yes, you can speak to high school students directly, but you can also direct messages to tuition-paying parents. Concerned grandparents often help with tuition and can be another relevant audience.
The largest secondary audience in this category is adults that regret not finishing college. Life took a turn and for whatever reason they didn’t get their degree. They don’t have the time, money or interest in putting their life on hold to actually go to a college campus. But give them a compelling invitation to log in from anywhere and finally get their degree on their own terms and you’ll have a massive audience ready to listen to you.
Because of the rising problems in the education space, the ease, low cost and convenience of an online educational experience and the multiple audiences that will respond to various messaging strategies, Online Education is easily one of the top three direct response marketing categories to watch in 2016.
If you’re in the online education space and you haven’t utilized the power of direct response advertising, we should talk. At Marketing Architects we’ve developed the infrastructure to allow you to launch DRTV and direct response radio advertising with online optimization and real time results reporting. Backed with more than 18 years of best practices in DR, we can give you everything you need to make 2016 an incredible year.