DRTV Spot Yields Lower Costs

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Bell Sympatico is concluding a DRTV campaign in which it used a home setting and aggressive call-to-action tactics, a blend that produced a cost per order 25 percent lower than any of its other infomercials.


In addition, the spot's cost per inquiry was the lowest of any of the company's marketing channels, including direct mail and free-standing inserts.


Sympatico, an Internet service provider, used the long-form spots to market its high-speed Internet service. The infomercials aired over cable and broadcast networks as well as infomercial-only channels in Canada that reach 150,000 to 200,000 viewers.


The Toronto company targeted Ontario residents older than 25 who were unhappy with traditional dial-up connections.


Sympatico's objective was to sell consumers not only on the speed of the service compared with traditional dial-up service but also its ability to let users speak on the phone and use the Internet at the same time. Ian French, a partner at Toronto-based Monte Brooks-Northern Light, the direct response television agency that produced the infomercial, said that when the campaign began in June 2000, many people were unaware that one phone line could be used for both services simultaneously.


Sympatico, which is part-owned by Bell Globemedia Inc. and Lycos, featured a family in a home in the spot instead of the traditional studio setting.


The spot offered the first month free, which is valued at $40, and free installation, valued at $100.


French said the infomercial used strong call-to-action methods, such as using the word "free" a lot. The response mechanism was a toll-free number. The infomercial is set to air through October, when another spot will be rolled out.


"Most DRTV spots downplay the call-to-action for fear of being too loud or the language being too powerful," French said.


French said Sympatico decided to use strong tactics for the call-to-action -- such as asking for an order or detailing what will happen when a consumer calls -- because they tend to help increase response rates.


Further, the call-to-action appeared eight minutes into the infomercial and after the service was properly explained, French said, because response rates suffer if a call-to-action is given too early. The toll-free number was displayed for the infomercial's duration.


Meanwhile, Karen Ming-Sun, marketing manager at Sympatico, said the company has dropped 500,000 direct mail pieces each quarter since last year. Its most recent drop in April, in which it targeted high-income, higher-educated technology users lining in urban areas of Ontario, generated a 2 percent response rate.


The company declined to provide specific figures on cost per order or per inquiry.


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