Direct Response TV's Secret Weapon: The "HI" Factor

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Direct Response TV's Secret Weapon: The "HI" Factor
Direct Response TV's Secret Weapon: The "HI" Factor

When it comes to closing the deal, direct response TV advertising may have a distinct, yet not often considered advantage—the Human Interaction or "HI" factor.

For decades, 1-800 numbers were the universal signature of DRTV. Then the Internet changed everything. Every week televisions are becoming smarter and more social—and the direct response landscape is evolving to use interactive ads, landing pages, text-to-respond, and more. These new and evolving direct response channels beg the question: “Is the 800 number relevant anymore?” As a Web-savvy consumer, your knee-jerk reaction may understandably be “no.”  Why call someone when you can shop online and pay via PayPal or credit card? Dialing a 1-800 number seems so antiquated.

Not so fast. Many organizations that utilize direct response TV advertising within their marketing mix have confirmed, despite the efforts to make online shopping more personalized, it's still not all that personal. Certain products and services require more than bullet points and a “Buy Now” button to complete a sale. What's missing from online shopping is the human interaction; a real person to talk to, with a real voice and a real name. That's exactly what a 1-800 number can provide.

The HI factor gives customers more than actual conversation—it gives them one-on-one guidance. For example, many companies utilize direct response ads to increase enrollments and memberships. These require detailed forms to be filled out correctly and completely. But in reality, some customers get sidetracked and never finish the online forms, or they may not click “submit” at the end. By having a real person guide and assist them over the phone, more enrollment forms are completed and more customers are enrolled.

The 800 number isn't the only way companies can tap into the “HI” factor. For example, Web-based businesses of all shapes and sizes are taking advantage of online chat systems that provide customers with immediate access to help. You've likely shopped on a website and after browsing for a few seconds had a pop-up window ask, “Want to chat?” This is because dot-coms know that the second they can start chatting with you, the less likely you'll be to leave their website and shop elsewhere. An online chat system also allows customers to multitask while waiting. Now businesses can answer your questions, tell you more about their products, and, most importantly, create a paying customer far more quickly.

In today's world where everyone wants and needs to gain and maintain a competitive edge, the ability to offer any type of real human interaction can help businesses rise to the top. The key is to give customers someone who can immediately walk them through a sale if they become confused or have a question that can make or break that sale.

Once upon a time, calling a 1-800 number was the universal call-to-action for direct response campaigns. As new response channels enter the game, there's still nothing that compares to the personal attention a real live human provides. In our increasingly connected world, new technologies make targeting consumers with direct marketing campaigns easier, but they don't supplant people. Instead, technology should encourage something that can never be replaced by machines—the distinct advantage of the HI factor.

Jim Madsen is a copywriter at DRTV agency
A. Eicoff & Co.

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