Testing

Personalizing Direct Mail Copy

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

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You have probably seen how personalizing a direct mail letter can lift response and increase profits.

Personalizing our letter often means having a computer extract information from our database – the recipient’s name, address, past purchases, contribution history, names of elected officials, etc. – and inserting it into the letter copy.

We know this works. It’s been tested countless times and we regularly see the added cost of computer personalization justified by increased profits.

But when used incorrectly, attempts to personalize the letter can actually depersonalize it.

For example, my pet peeve are letters that begin (more…)

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How Your Direct Mail Letter’s Layout Can Increase Readership and Response

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

When you get down to basics, a direct mail letter is a conversation between the letter signer and its recipient.

A successful direct mail letter is one that motivates the reader to take a specific action. And to motivate the reader, you’ve got to get them to read your letter.

Yet too often, we receive direct mail letters that are offensive to the eye. Big blocks of text crowd the page. Narrow left and right margins choke the life from the words. And small sans serif type printed over a colored background makes the copy difficult to read.

At best, these letters are uninviting – even intimidating – to read. And with only a few seconds to capture the reader’s attention, any distraction to the reader’s eye flow can doom the mailing.

Higher readership equals greater response

But by applying a few proven techniques to your letter’s layout, you can get the prospect to read further along in your letter. And the more time they spend with your letter, the greater the likelihood of persuading the reader to take the desired action.

Few people – even those who respond – will read the complete letter but you can increase readership of your direct mail letter and achieve a more profitable mailing campaign by following these 11 simple steps. (more…)

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Your Direct Mail Letter’s “John Hancock” Can Help Drive Results

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

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Your letter signer is a person with a story to tell. A story that may give you new ways to relate to your mailing’s recipients.

Successful direct mail is a conversation between two people – the letter signer and the mailing’s recipient.

The more information you have about the mailing’s recipient, the better the conversation you can have.

Your Direct Mail Letter's "John Hancock" Can Help Drive Results

Knowing your Letter Signer’s Story Can Help Drive Results

It’s like going to a party and meeting someone new. You can captivate his or her attention for a few moments by talking about yourself. But if you want to hold their attention, you need to ask about their interests and direct the conversation toward them.

This is why successful copywriters study mailing lists.

Understanding the demographics, interests and history of the mailing’s recipients is the listening part of the direct mail conversation.

But your letter also has a voice. It’s the voice of the letter signer.

The copywriter speaks for the letter signer. And by taking time to understand the speaker’s background (more…)

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Rethinking Direct Mail Premiums

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

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I’m a strong proponent of testing direct mail premiums. Why? Because they typically increase the mailing’s response rate and its net profit!

Take, for instance, those personalized address labels you receive in mailings. Practically all of us have a use for them. And as soon as we run out, we go looking for more.

Yes, they add to the mailing’s cost. But typically, they also spike the number of people responding, raise the average gift and increase the mailing’s net income.

Rethinking direct mail premiums

Premiums work because of (more…)

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5 Things You’ll Want to Know When Planning a Direct Mail Test

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

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Whether you’re a direct mail copywriter, an account executive, or a group manager, here are 5 things you’ll want to know when planning — or approving — a test mailing.

 

1. The mailing’s objective

 Not every direct mailer has the same needs so what makes sense for another mailer may not be advisable for you.Direct mail testing. Making the right choices

For example, some mailers may be content with tweaking the control with hopes for a 10% – 15% lift in results. Others need breakthrough results.

When you mail millions of pieces per year, beating the control by a few percentage points — or even by half of 1% — can mean big money. But a smaller mailer may need breakthrough results to justify the test costs.

Before you spend a dime to produce a test mailing, everyone needs to agree on what (more…)

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5 Direct Mail Inserts That Increase Response

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

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It’s said that the purpose of a direct mail letter is to sell, whereas the objective of a mailing’s brochure is to explain.

That said, many mailers seem to have a compulsion to include a brochure in their mailing. But before you join the rush, note that very few of us have mailings whose purpose is to “explain.”

For most of us, the objective is to increase the mailing’s net profit, and too often a brochure distracts the reader’s attention from responding.

Yet adding particular inserts to the mailing can increase response and – despite the added cost – increase the mailing’s net income.

Here are examples of 5 inserts that you should test.

As you’ll see, their purpose isn’t to explain but to enhance the value of the benefits offered and to reduce any reluctance the reader (more…)

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10 Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Direct Mail Offer and Beat the Control

Friday, August 24th, 2012

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When attempting to beat the control, the temptation is to focus on new copy. But testing new copy alone has far less potential to influence results than does making changes to the mailing’s offer.

Here are 10 easy ways you can increase direct mail response by revising your offer.

  1. Offer something free. Your mailing can include an offer for free shipping, free financing, 3 months’ free membership, address labels, a bookmark, a decal, etc. On the back end, you can fulfill a nearly endless list of gifts – in all price ranges – for those who respond.

10 Easy Ways to Strengthen Direct Mail Offer
If you already offer a premium, test a new one. It doesn’t need to be expensive – or even relate to the organization’s mission – as long as it has a perceived value.

Unfortunately, many groups – and especially boards of directors – hate premiums, believing they cheapen the organization. But most donors and customers respond to (more…)

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Understanding how people read your direct mail can increase response

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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The purpose of a direct mail letter is to motivate the recipient to take a specific course of action. But to persuade the reader to take action, we must first get him or her to read our letter—or at least its key parts.

Readers typically start at the top of a direct mail letter by reading their name in the address and salutation. From here, they go to the end of the letter to see who signed the letter. After the signature, readers typically go to the P.S.Direct mail in mail box

Let’s see how we can use this reading pattern to increase response.

 

Addressing your letter

Your direct mail letter is a one-to-one conversation between the letter’s signer and the recipient, and nothing assures the recipient that your message is intended for him better than seeing his name at the beginning of the letter.

People love to see their name, and today’s technology makes it cost-effective to personalize your mailing. But when you do personalize, use title codes—Mr., Mrs., Rev., etc.—in the salutation. There’s nothing less personal than a letter beginning with “Dear Hugh Chewning.” Without a title code, the attempt to personalize seems insincere and (more…)

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5 Common Direct Mail Mistakes to Avoid

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

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We all make mistakes, but years ago a teacher told me, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing enough.”

Mistakes can be learning experiences, but as valuable as it is to learn from our own mistakes, it can be more profitable to learn from the mistakes of others.5 Common Direct Mail Mistakes

Throughout my 30-plus years of direct marketing, here are five of the most common mistakes I see mailers make. And regardless of our own experience, we can always profit from the lessons others had to learn the hard way.

 

1. Refusing to make a long-term commitment to direct mail

Successful direct mail is methodical. It requires a plan and the discipline to follow the plan. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Not everything will go right on every mailing. Whether you are a startup or a mature mailer, some tests (more…)

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Fundamentals of Direct Mail Testing

Monday, November 21st, 2011

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Once during my younger years, I was presenting test results to a client along with recommendations on what we should mail next.

The client acknowledged that the test results supported my recommendation but said, “Our president doesn’t like that particular copy.”

My immediate response was “So?”

Admittedly, it wasn’t my most tactful hour. But when it comes to successful direct mail, it really doesn’t matter what we think is the best offer, copy or package design.

What matters is what our customers and/or donors respond to.

Fortunately, direct mail gives us a reliable method for measuring what motivates our customers to respond. And when we know how new elements of a mailing—lists, offer, copy, format and timing—affect response, we can drive our direct mail campaign toward (more…)

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