Direct response advertising – or advertising that allows people to take an immediate action – is a powerful tool for building up an organization’s supporters. Just don’t make these mistakes…

1. Not making a clear, direct ask:

In direct response advertising, the most successful way to get people to take action is to ask them to take action. An ad that is vague about what you’re looking for could result in no clicks or, alternatively, too many unqualified clicks. If you want people to sign a petition but merely present information about the cause, people may click through with no intention of signing a petition.

Because direct response advertising is often priced on a cost per click basis, the more unqualified clicks you get, the higher cost per action.

2. Getting too granular:

Digital advertising allows you to get pretty much as specific as you want with your targeting – if you are looking for PhDs between the age of 58 and 60 who are interested in bird watching and were swimmers in college to join your organization, digital advertising lets you do that.Unfortunately, when you get down to those deep, deep levels of specificity, your costs for direct response advertising* go way up. To efficiently acquire supporters, keep your targeting wider (maybe you wouldn’t mind reaching a 65-year-old man who likes birds but wasn’t a college swimmer).*That said, if your goal is not direct response but persuasion or GOTV, more granular targeting can be extremely successful.

3. Giving too much information:

Overwhelming the viewer is a surefire way to get them to ignore your ad. People skim their Facebook feeds and content on the Internet in general – if your ad is a solid block of text explaining everything there is to know about your cause, people aren’t going to read through it.

Instead, use direct response advertising to introduce people to your organization in a quick and easy way – once they’ve signed up or joined, you can continue to educate them (for free!) via email.

4. Not testing:

One of the best things about online advertising is the ability to test everything – and get measurable results quickly and inexpensively. If you begin your direct response program with specific ideas about what type of creative and targeting will work, you may be missing out on more successful methods.

Online advertising, and especially direct response advertising, allows you to throw a ton of ideas at the wall to see what sticks – take advantage of it to keep your costs low and your viewers engaged.