As an infomercial production company and direct response marketing agency we are sometimes asked to look into the future with clients and think of some potential new ways to help brands acquire new business and convert shoppers to buyers. We are sometimes asked point blank, “what is the future of infomercials?” Like all business, the direct response industry is constantly evolving and reacting to changes in consumer behavior, shifting media dynamics and new technology. Just as As Seen on TV sales shifted from the phone to the web and now back to the mobile phone over the last decade, we expect the next few years to change even more dynamically.
Regardless of these changes or the speed of these shifts, we believe that two things will still always stay consistent. Great products and great storytelling will always be the the keys in a successful direct to consumer campaign. Where the campaigns reside and how the products are purchased will evolve over time but a great product with a compelling story and visuals will always generate interest and sales. Below is a list in no particular order with some of the shifts in the infomercial business that we see on the horizon. Time will tell whether any or all of these come to fruition but we look forward to seeing how they impact the direct response business.
Shift to Mobile For Conversion: This one is already here and if you are a DRTV brand and you are not already making this a top priority, you will have little chance to succeed moving forward. Regardless of your calls to action or KPIs whether a sale or a lead generation you need to make sure that when someone sees your infomercial that when they pull their phones out of their pockets that they can easily and quickly find you and accomplish the intended goal. Whether you use a mobile website, mobile landing page, responsive design, adaptive design or mobile apps- planning for a mobile first business will be expected now and in the future.
Big Data and Analytics: We dislike buzzwords as much as anyone and “big data” may take the title for the most overused buzzword of 2013 but it does have value and in fact most successful direct response brands have been using “big data” before there was even a term for it. At its base, it is just using the now mountains of data on our consumers and targeted consumers to make better and more informed business decisions. We expect DRTV brands and media buyers to use real time data to make shifts to the offer on the fly or to have custom made offers and creative for thousands of demographics or consumers and the data on the back end to measure what works and affect change.
Infomercials Media Shift to Streaming and Web: TV is not going away and the TV media where both short form and long form infomercials are shown will still be the dominant force because of the ability to reach a large volume of people. However, there is a growing trend toward people consuming media on streaming services such Netflix and Amazon Prime and on the web such as Hulu and YouTube. The question that we ask, is how will infomercials and specifically the long form media that is a proven storytelling and selling method be integrated into this growing media channel. There is a growing percentage of the population who no longer pay for broadcast, cable and local TV so how do direct marketers reach this audience.
Audio Recognition To Purchase: This is another one that like mobile is already here and will be growing very quickly. At this point, very few direct marketers are using this but brand marketers and the television producers are starting to use this for their campaigns and shows. The simple premise, is that an app on your phone can recognize the media you are watching just from listening and then deliver you customized content. No more typing in urls, searching on Google or anything else in the way of the infomercial and the goal. Technology from Shazam and Shazam for TV is growing this segment and there are others who are right on the heels. For direct response it will jut be a matter of time before all infomercials will have some kind of audio recognition component.
Social Media Calls to Action and Live Chat Customer Service: Historically due the nature of many DRTV products and business model, customer service has been a challenge and sometime can make or break a successful campaign. We have all read the horror stories of non responsive customer service or difficult to cancel or return items. These horror stories are now amplified via review websites and social media. The next generation of direct marketers will need to respond to customer service related questions and comments in real time and on the social media channel such as Twitter and Facebook where the customer service questions are posted. The pioneers will not only reply to customer service questions but via live chat or other communication tools will turn these customer interactions into sales opportunities.
Enhanced Conversion Testing: Most brands are now starting to use the basics of A/B and multivariate testing of home pages, landing pages. ecommerce cart pages, ad creative, offer creative and ad copy. The next generation of testing will continue this but do it in a more reportable and dynamic manner. One of the terms we have heard for some of this testing is post click optimization where the goal is to continue to improve what happens after the shopper reaches the destination website by taking into account all of the available data of where the shopper came from, their demo and what offer or creative they have seen.
Crowdsourced and Crowdfunded New Products: Crowdsourcing to create new products and crowdfunding to raise money to produce these products has become an acceptable way to start a business or launch a new product. Crowdfunding platfotms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have launched some amazing projects and products. As Seen on TV recently announced that it is going to launch a crowdfunding platform specifically for inventors who think that their products are a good fit for DRTV and infomercials. There may even be a marketing element of the infomercial creative where the fact that the product was crowdsourced, crowdfunded or both will be a selling tool.
The future of infomercials and direct response will always evolve and change with the demands of the customer. We look forward to watching it and seeing how many of the above trends will take hold and at what level.
Another Great Blog Post from Launch DRTV