Testing

A Copywriter’s Thoughts on Direct Mail Lists

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I still remember my first direct mail letter. I reworked it to perfection. Every word was just as I wanted it to be. The benefits to the reader were clear, the offer was strong and the call to action was unmistakable.

Then we mailed the letter, and I waited. And I waited some more. But nothing happened. Not even a single response. No one even bothered to complain about the letter.

About direct mail lists

Finding the right person to mail

Finally, after waiting a few more days, I went to see the agency’s owner and confessed my failure. I explained the letter’s objectives, my approach, the offer…how I had checked and rechecked every word but failed to get even one response.

Without even looking up, my boss said, “Check the lists.”

And I was ready for this. I’d already prepared a report on the mailing lists we were testing and started to go through the long list. But he said, “No, that’s not what I mean. (more…)

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How a Guarantee Builds Direct Mail Profits

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Value of Direct Mail Guarantee

When it comes to decision making, I have a simple approach. If I believe the outcome might be something I wouldn’t want my mother to know about, I don’t do it.

And when creating a direct mail offer a similar rule applies. If you can’t provide a meaningful guarantee, don’t promote it.

You have two reasons to offer a guarantee:

First, it’s the right thing to do. A meaningful guarantee shows that you believe in your product. And, when you’re asking for someone else’s money, you should believe in what you’re selling—if not, don’t do it.

Second, you’ll want to offer a guarantee because it can build profits.

Buyers, whether online or traditional direct mail, have plenty of reasons—real or perceived—not to respond to your offer. After all, whether we’re fundraising or selling a product, we’re asking the prospect to trust us to do what we promised. (more…)

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17 Ways to Improve Your Direct Mail Offer

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How improve direct mail offer

Simply put, your direct mail offer is the “deal” you promise the recipient. It’s what you promise the reader and what you ask in return.

Your offer needs to be specific and to clearly state how it benefits the prospect. It includes the product—or for a fundraiser, the organization’s mission or project—the price or asking amount, terms, incentives, guarantee, etc.

And, of all the components of your mailing—other than the list—the offer is the most important element of your success. If you’re looking for breakthrough results, here are 17 quick ideas to consider: (more…)

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21 Basic Rules for Successful Direct Mail Testing

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We all know the importance of direct mail testing, but too often money is wasted on unproductive and unwise tests. Here are 21 basic rules worth reviewing to get the most from your marketing dollars:

1. Before you start production on any test, do the math first. How long will it take to recover your test costs, and what increase in results will you need to beat the control? Proceed with the test only after showing that there’s a reasonable chance that it can economically increase response.

2. Don’t test just because you’re curious to know “what if.” Have a solid plan of how you’ll turn the test results into a profit before you invest in the test.

3. Be sure you test a sufficient quantity to obtain reliable test results.

4. “Replicate” each test when possible—rather than mail one test cell of 10,000 names, split the names into two equal groups and mail the same test to two groups of 5,000. (more…)

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The What, When and How of Direct Mail Testing

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What to test

In his book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail, Dick Benson states, “Any idea you honestly believe can economically increase response is worth testing.”

The key words are “economically increase response.” But what is economical? Typically, the more dramatic a change you make in a package, the more dramatic the difference in results.

For example, when you need a breakthrough, test the components that have the greatest influence on the mailing’s success—lists, offer, format and copy. Forget about testing minor changes on page three or the color of the return envelope. Test big things for big results.

However, for clients mailing larger volumes, “tweaking” the control for incremental gains often makes sense.

For example, Client A and Client B both have an average response rate of 1%, with a $25 average transaction. Both test a new package that lifts results by 10%. The only difference is that Client A has an annual (more…)

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Direct Mail Testing and
7 Costly Mistakes to Avoid

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J. Paul Getty once said the three keys to wealth and success are, “Rise early. Work hard. And strike oil.”
Direct Mail Testing
That may be good advice. But for those of us who must depend upon something other than striking oil, I say the three keys to success for a direct marketer are to TEST, TEST, and TEST!

But before we test, we must recognize that not all tests are productive or cost-effective. My next post will be “What, How and When to Test” but in the meantime, here are 7 costly mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when testing (more…)

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When Less Direct Mail Can Be More

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Early in my direct marketing career, a mentor taught me, “The fewer people you mail, the more you can mail.”

It took me a while to grasp this simple concept, but in reality, it speaks to the core principle behind successful direct mail.

Being able to target your mailing to a narrowly defined audience—and highlighting how your offer solves specific needs—has always been one of the most powerful benefits of direct mail. Yet far too often marketers fail to exploit this advantage. (more…)

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How Leo Tolstoy Applies to Successful Direct Mail

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In his novel, Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

What Tolstoy was saying is that to be happy, a marriage must succeed on a number of levels including: financial, sexual, how to raise children, in-laws and religion. Every successful couple finds agreement in each of these areas. But an unsuccessful marriage can break apart when there’s disagreement in any one of these areas.

The reasons for happiness are same. The cause of unhappiness is unique.

Can’t we say the same about direct mail? (more…)

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The Cost of Giving Direct Mail Readers Too Many Choices

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One thing we can do to improve the profitability of our direct mail is to learn the lessons of a famous jam study.
Direct Mail Offer Choices
That’s right. Jam. The stuff we spread over our toast.

In a gourmet market, Professor Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and her research assistants set up a booth offering samples of Wilkin & Sons jams.

Every few hours, the researchers switched from offering customers a selection of 24 jams to offering a group of only six jams.

Each participating customer – regardless of the number of selections offered – received a $1 savings coupon and tasted an average of two jams.

Here’s the interesting part. (more…)

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18 Ways to Increase Readership of Your Direct Mail Letter and Achieve Greater Response

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Direct mail isn’t a complicated business. If you can get more people to read further into your letter, you’re going to achieve a greater response.

Increase Direct Mail ReadershipSuccessful direct mail is a conversation that motivates the reader to take a specific action. If we can get the prospect to listen more, or in our case read further along in our letter, we’ll have a greater chance of getting them to take the desired action.

Here are 18 proven ways you can increase readership of your direct mail letters and (more…)

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