Why DRTV Can't Do it Alone

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Direct response marketers credit TV with helping make up to 79% of their sales, but they are increasingly getting big assists from digital channels, a study says.

Marketers aren't tuning out direct TV (DRTV). In fact, approximately 30% of direct response marketers attribute 60 to 79% of their sales to television advertising, according to the June 2014 “State of the Direct Response Television Industry” report by the Electronic Retailing Association and Media Analytics.

“TV is always going to be [the one] to introduce [the product] no matter how the market has evolved,” says Sonia Makurdsik, EVP of consumer product distributor Hampton Direct.

Although DRTV can be an effective first touchpoint for consumers, the channel can't always bag the sale alone. Here are three ways brands leverage additional channels to drive DRTV's path to purchase.


For Total Gym, mobile is generally the first touchpoint that consumers have with the home exercise equipment company after seeing an infomercial. This path to purchase seems to be increasingly popular for consumers in general. According to the June 2014 “TV Viewing and the 'Second Screen'" Insight Report by Rubinson Partners for CivicScience, 45% of TV viewers multitask with a second-screen device.

To take advantage of this connectivity, Total Gym launched a mobile site about three years ago. However, the exercise empire wanted to take the mobile experience a step further. So the company implemented a mobile chat solution by online engagement solution provider TouchCommerce last year. “Our customers want to be able to have smooth transitions and transactions for the mobile user coming into their site,” says George Skaff, CMO of TouchCommerce.

Here's how the solution works: When consumers visit Total Gym's mobile site, they can tap a button to interact with one of the company's agents via popup chat. Total Gym can also reach out to shoppers who appear to be in need of help—such as if they've spent a significant amount of time on a particular page.

Total Gym uses the chat solution to power sales, rather than customer service, notes Joe Crowley, Total Gym's VP of marketing. In some cases consumers ask chat agents specific product questions; in others, agents will try to cross-sell accessories that go well with certain pieces of equipment. Crowley says that Total Gym will also use the chat solution to upsell customers into paying for their purchases in full, rather than through a payment plan.

“We felt that it was important to try to make the best of that experience,” he says. “Even if that consumer doesn't end up buying on that visit... he had a good experience, interacted with out chat agent, and got more information [and] more questions answered [than] if he had gone to the site and had not had chat available.”

Since implementing the mobile chat solution, Total Gym has seen improvement in mobile site conversion rates, Crowley says. In addition, he says that mobile chat customers have a higher average order value. However, that hasn't been the brand's only win. The solution has also provided Total Gym with consumer insight, such as what product information is missing.


But the small screen isn't for everyone. In fact, Hampton Direct's Makurdsik says that about 60% of the company's “as seen on TV” product sales stem from online. And she's not alone. More than one fifth of marketers are seeing 60 to 79% of their sales come from online, according to the “State of the Direct Response Television Industry” report.

“After TV, we utilize the website,” she says.

Makurdsik says that the website must resemble TV spots in terms of creative vision, product benefits, and features. She adds that Hampton Direct is able to change its website to fit its products. Hampton Direct ushers consumers to its website to learn more about its products by including a URL in its 120-second commercials.


While it's essential for marketers to consider online channels, it's also important for them to remember offline ones, as well. Hampton Direct proves this to be true.

“In the end, it's the retail,” Makurdsik says. "The success of retail is what really gauges the success of sales for us.”

Having in-store displays and promotions is crucial to extending the vision of the brand, Makurdsik says. But solely relying on in-store marketing tactics isn't enough. “The creativity always begins with TV,” she says. “It's about seeing it many, many times over and over again in which you then get them to the store and purchase the item.”

Still, marketers must maintain both a physical and digital presence to satisfy consumers' behaviors and preferences.

“Now, consumers have more of a choice and every consumer purchases products differently,” Makurdsik says. “Their [purchase] behavior has changed. There are so many consumers who buy products mobilely so they don't have to go through retail. There are still consumers who embrace the feel and touch of a product, so they have to go through the shelf and they enjoy that experience.”

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