Hoist Your Sales! by mmcsx


									Hoist Your Sales!

  Rules of Thumb for
Smooth Sailing Through
Today’s Direct Marketing
I. Introduction                                                II. Impressment: Offer
   Guiding a ship to the right port of call takes                 In the heyday of tall ships, sailors were sometimes
   experience, knowledge and a skilled crew.                      impressed into naval service; today’s marketers
   Experienced sailors know luck has nothing to                   want to impress their prospects and customers with
   do with it. There are maps and charts to read,                 their offers. The best direct marketing campaigns
   sophisticated navigational tools to master,                    begin with a great product and a strong offer to
   techniques for proper rigging, an understanding                encourage a high response rate. A key aspect in
   of currents, tides and the sea in general —                    marketing is to offer unbeatable benefits in a clear
   and the entire crew must work as a single,                     format that anchor customers to your product.
   well-oiled machine.
                                                               2. The strongest word in the direct marketing world is
                                                                  “FREE!” After all, it’s how we got you to read this booklet!
   Direct marketing is no                                         Besides, it generally works better than discounting your
   different – if you want                                        product. If possible, add some feature of your product or
                                                                  service that is absolutely free just for responding. (See
   to “hoist your sales.”                                         the Subject Line discussion in the Interactive section on
                                                                  page 12.)
   The following are some rules of thumb to help you
   do just that. But remember, these are only                  3. Sometimes, the best offer you can make is a free trial.
   suggestions with a history of success — they’re not
   meant to limit you or guarantee results. Therefore,         4. Consider trying a money-back guarantee. By doing
   the first rule of thumb is this:                               so, you take away the responder’s fear of making a
                                                                  wrong decision.
1. There are no rules! In direct marketing, there are tests,
   metrics, controls and predictions. There are experiences.   5. Think about adding a soft response — give the recipient
   But there are no certainties. There are; however,              the option to find out more information by checking the
   suggestions that can be made with degrees of confidence,       appropriate box. The hard response is a solid “Yes!” from
   and 100 of them follow. So raise your anchors and let’s        the recipient.
   get started!
                                                               6. Use reply-by dates or time-sensitive phrases, such as “For
                                                                  a limited time only.” Not only does this strategy encourage
                                                                  the hesitant responders to take action, it decreases the
                                                                  amount of time for responses.

                                                               7. Make sure the reply-by date or the limited-time offer
                                                                  appears in your P.S., if you’re writing a letter.

                                                               8. Reiterate the reply-by date or the limited-time offer on your
                                                                  reply form.

 9. Pay attention to what else you say on your reply form —
    it’s usually a good idea to reiterate your call to action,
                                                                    III. Charting the Course:
    restate the benefits of your product, include several                Reaching Your Target
    payment options, provide a space for shipping and
    handling charges, and certainly highlight anything you’re            Audience
    offering for FREE!                                                  The goal of these voyages is to get your cargo into
                                                                        your port of call. Finding the best and safest route is
10. Sometimes stating the dollars saved from your offer is              elemental to sailing. It takes a solid working
    more appealing when stated as a percentage. For
                                                                        knowledge of maps, charts and satellite navigational
    example, “That’s a savings of 46% off the newsstand
    price!” might sound more intriguing than, “Save $4.60 off           systems. Similarly, careful preparation of reaching
    your $10.00 subscription!” Look at each individual case             your target audience is necessary for a successful
    and determine which is more appealing.                              direct marketing campaign:

11. When offering a guarantee, highlight it. A prominently          16. Take a good look at your mailing lists — you can gain
    featured guarantee (such as a money-back guarantee) can             insight simply by viewing a sample of actual names and
    be a strong incentive for responding to a direct mail piece.        addresses on your target list. Know your audience. Know
                                                                        where they are. You can learn a lot just by their
12. It’s important to let your customers know you appreciate            geographical location.
    their business. Sometimes just remembering their
    birthdays or sending them a card for special holidays, not      17. Don’t reject compiled lists out of hand — often they can
    just for special promotions or special offers, can increase         work just as well as non-compiled lists.
    loyalty, retention and activation.
                                                                    18. On average, your existing in-house file tends to generate
13. Thank you notes to recent purchasers promote a feeling              anywhere between 2-10 times the response rate of a blind
    of warmth between recipient and mailer. Such                        rented list. But, a rented list is an excellent way to
    communications may offer nothing other than thanks.                 supplement an existing list.

14. Think about viral marketing — ask the recipients either to      19. Ask the publications in which you advertise for their lists.
    pass on the information to others they know who might               You can then plan to mail in conjunction with your print
    be interested, or to ask them to provide you with that              advertising schedule. This tends to pull better for both
    information so that you may contact them directly.                  your direct mail campaign as well as your print ad push.
    (See the discussion on Forwarding to a Friend in the
    Interactive section.)                                           20. When renting lists, be sure to acquire list guarantees from
                                                                        your list brokers. They can guarantee deliverability up to a
15. Rock the boat! Something that is unusual and attention              certain percent. If the undeliverable rate is higher than
    getting can give you surprising results. It keeps your offers       guaranteed, list brokers will often compensate you for the
    and creative fresh and it can lift response simply because          difference as a show of good faith.
    it’s new and different.
                                                                    21. Former customers are good prospects to include on a
                                                                        mailing list. Don’t write them off because they’ve been
                                                                        inactive for a short time.

                                3                                                                    4
22. When using Standard Class A mail (also known as bulk            30. It’s a good practice to speak to your customers in their
    mail), be sure to update your addresses as much as                  preferred language.
    possible. The USPS does not forward standard mail pieces.
                                                                    31. If you’re targeting a business market, it is a good idea to
23. Including the apartment or suite number in the recipient’s          use your reader’s jargon, phrasing and buzz words —
    address is a good way to make sure your letter gets to the          relate to them in their daily experiences.
    right person.
                                                                    32. If you contact recipients in a language other than English,
24. Personalize the response form with the recipient’s full             response rates increase when you can fulfill in the native
    name and address. Also include your company’s full                  language as well.
    address, telephone number and web site on the response
    form. With the phone number, the responder has the              33. If you don’t already, consider designing your piece with
    option of calling to reply or visiting your web site to place       an area for name and address correction. Not only does it
    an order.                                                           help with updating your database, but according to
                                                                        studies, it also improves response.
25. Consider segmenting your customer database by large
    purchases vs. small purchases. You can tailor offers to         34. Good communication practice is to mail all names in your
    these customers accordingly.                                        database several times a year. This keeps your brand and
                                                                        product(s) fresh in their minds and helps you maintain an
26. When business-to-business mailing, it’s a good idea to              accurate in-house list.
    maintain a file of your recipients’ job titles for addressing
    and their job function codes for selection / segmentation.      35. At the same time, be sure not to over-mail to your list.
                                                                        You don’t want your customer/prospect to get tired of
27. Seeding your mailing with names of people in your                   hearing from you.
    company is a good method for tracking your mailing and
    examining such issues as delivery dates and durability of       36. Consider contacting your customers through a different
    your package through the mail system.                               channel. For example, if you’ve been contacting them
                                                                        through postal mail, try e-mailing, phoning or faxing.
28. Think about creating an accurate profile of your
    customers. It’s the best way to create tailored messages        37. If you don’t have their e-mail addresses, phone or fax
    — you absolutely must know who your customers are in                numbers already, design your reply form to include fields
    order to generate the highest possible response.                    to ask for it.

29. It’s often a good idea to collect as much customer              38. You may need to provide an incentive for your recipients
    information as you can — PROVIDED ITS RELAVENT. To                  to provide additional information like this. Sometimes an
    learn more about your prospects, some questions to                  e-newsletter is all the incentive you need.
    consider are: A) What makes them buy from us? B) When
    do they actually buy? C) What similarities do they have         39. Consider a third-party source for data-append services to
    with others who have bought from us in the past?                    add e-mail or phone numbers to your existing database.
                                                                        Using reputable data-append services will produce
                                                                        anywhere between a 10%-40% match-rate.

                                 5                                                                   6
IV Cleaning Out the Bilge:                                         .
                                                                  V Choosing a Vessel:
    Data Hygiene                                                     Sending the Right Package
    Sailors used to fear slipping off the edge of the                 It takes a particular kind of ship to embark on
    world; today’s mailers should equally fear their own              different types of voyages. A cruise liner and a
    points-of-no-return, undeliverables. List hygiene and             catamaran are vastly different, yet each serves a
    segmentation are essential to success; so don’t take              specific purpose for the pleasure sailor. In much the
    it for granted. Eliminate waste; drop ballast.                    same way, the direct mail package can take any
    Sometimes you just have to empty the bilges.                      number of formats. A small sample consists of the
                                                                      postcard; the self-mailer; and the classic direct mail
40. Keep a record of all those who no longer wish to be               package complete with letter, brochure and reply
    contacted by you, and make that your suppression file. Be         vehicle. Each has a different function, designed to
    sure to run your mail files against your suppression files
                                                                      hoist your sales.
    when mailing for two reasons: 1) to make sure you’re
    complying with your customers’ wishes; and 2) to save         46. Consider writing copy as simply as possible. Wordy
    money on print and postage.
                                                                      sentence structure can confuse recipients. If you’re trying
                                                                      to convey a complicated message in the simplest form,
41. In order to practice good list hygiene, be sure to de-dupe
                                                                      sometimes charts or diagrams are excellent substitutes
    and merge/purge.
                                                                      for text.
42. Use NCOA and CASS to clean your mailing list and
                                                                  47. The length of your communication can be as long or as
    house files.
                                                                      short as the message requires, as long as copy is written
43. Run your mail files against the DMA pander file (that’s the       directly and to the point.
    list of about 2 million names of people who have
                                                                  48. When writing copy, it often helps to write the reply vehicle
    contacted the DMA saying they don’t want to receive
                                                                      first and the letter copy second. This focuses you on your
    direct mail solicitations — from anyone).
                                                                      offer and message.
44. Clean your lists often. According to some studies, in a
                                                                  49. Copy on the outer envelope (OE) should be written with
    one-year period, 5% of your list’s ZIP codes can be
                                                                      the goal of getting the recipient to open the package. You
    inaccurate without regular cleaning.
                                                                      only have 2-3 seconds to grab the prospect’s attention
45. Postcard mailings are a cost-efficient way to perform list        before he/she trashes the piece. It’s important not to lose
    hygiene on your in-house list. Be sure to mail these first        sight of this goal.
    class. This way undeliverables will be returned to you, and
                                                                  50. A simple change like adding a color or taking a color away
    thus you’ll know the bad addresses.
                                                                      from your OE may be enough to lift response. The idea is
                                                                      to get people to take another, longer look at a package
                                                                      they’ve become bored with.

                                7                                                                 8
51. On window envelopes, the window must be big enough to           57. In addition to the “Yes!” box on the response form, also
    see both the bar code and address block. Measure it to              include a check box that says, “No, I’m not interested at
    make sure it meets with USPS automation requirements.               this time.” The No responses confirm that your message
                                                                        got through and that you are mailing to prospects that
52. Make sure you keep a clear zone around your bar code. If            respond to direct mail.
    not, you may lose your postal discounts.
                                                                    58. Postage-paid business reply vehicles tend to generate
53. Using the words “you” and “yours” as often as possible in           a higher net response than vehicles not pre-paid by
    your copy help to create a personal relationship between            the mailer.
    the mailer and the recipient.
                                                                    59. A reply form that goes back to a specific individual instead
54. One of the most frequently read parts of the direct mail            of just to the company or a department in the company
    letter is the P.S. Always have a postscript at the end of           tends to have a better response rate. (See the discussion
    each letter that reiterates the offer. (See the P.S.                on Reply-To E-mail Addresses in the Interactive section.)
    discussion in the Interactive section.)
                                                                    60. When designing reply forms, making them big and simple
55. Another of the most important pieces of copy in the direct          helps. You don’t want your customer to struggle when
    marketing letter is the first sentence. Having read the P.S.,       placing an order. Try testing out your reply forms by
    recipients will next want to find out more, and the first           handwriting in your own information to see if it fits neatly
    sentence of the letter has to be strong enough to maintain          and easily.
    their interest.
                                                                    61. Set up multiple channels for response: business reply card
56. Be sure to pay attention to your Johnson box copy. It is            or envelope, toll-free number, fax-back form or web site.
    also one of the most frequently read parts. This is the
    copy that prints near the name/address — usually                62. While most people love to laugh, humor doesn’t always
    including a headline and perhaps subheads and/or                    work in copy. Use it cautiously. If you do plan to use it, a
    bullet points.                                                      general guideline is to make fun of the problem or situation
                                                                        that your recipient faces, and one in which you offer a

                                                                    63. Consider including a second order form for a pass-along,
                                                                        or viral marketing strategy.

                                 9                                                                     10
VI. Surfing the Cyber Seas:                                          66. The Subject Line of an e-mail message is the most
                                                                         important part of the communication because it is the first
    Interactive Marketing                                                thing recipients really pay attention to, and they make
                                                                         their decision to open or delete based on that.
     More and more, marketers are no longer waiting on
     the shoreline when it comes to web-based                        67. Subject Lines act as the teaser copy to entice your
     marketing, and are instead wading in with e-mail                    recipients to open their e-mail. Be warned; however, that
     first, before venturing into deeper water with Paid                 teaser copy (in the traditional sense) doesn’t work with
     Search, Optimized Search, banner ads, co-reg / pay-                 e-mail — don’t be cute with the subject line copy. Instead,
     per-lead, Personalized URLs (PURLs) or other new                    state the offer or the reason for contacting the recipient in
     technology with a shorter history of success. Since                 simple, straightforward language. You typically have 150
     e-mail marketing landed on our shores, it has grown                 characters or less to grab their attention.
     into a powerhouse method for frequent, inexpensive              68. Avoid the word “FREE” in your subject lines. Unlike other
     contact with customers and prospects. During that                   direct marketing, the word FREE in a subject line is
     time, some best practices have become standard for                  verboten. There is little that will trigger a SPAM flag as
     good e-mail marketing — and some of it contradicts                  quickly as this.
     what we know about traditional direct marketing
     strategy. When planning your approach, we                       69. Other words or phrases to avoid in your subject line are:
     recommend considering the following:                                “100%”, “don’t delete”, any sex-related words, names of
                                                                         drugs or pharmacological words (especially those that
                                                                         enhance sexual performance, even if you replace letters
     FOR E-MAIL MESSAGING:                                               for punctuation such as the “V” in Viagra for “\ / iagra”),
 64. The From Line — the name that appears as the sender of              “p.e.r.i.o.d.s.” in-between letters of a word, and single-
     your e-mail message — is the equivalent of a return                 word subject lines such as “Hi” or “Hey.”
     address on an envelope mailing. It is often a neglected
                                                                     70. Avoid punctuation in your subject lines. A dash will work.
     element in e-mail marketing but can serve as a powerful
                                                                         A comma, if necessary. A question mark sometimes
     tool. If your company has a strong brand identity, we
                                                                         causes the rest of the subject line to appear as
     recommend the company name as the From Line. If you’re
                                                                         gobbledygook, due to transmission issues. An exclamation
     just starting out, sometimes the name of the sender, CEO
                                                                         point sends up SPAM flags, as do dollar signs ($$$)!
     or other individual in your organization may work. Like all
     elements of direct marketing, the best practice when it         71. Avoid CAPS in your subject line. Even if the spam filters
     comes to developing an effective From Line is to test!              miss it (which they usually won’t), it makes the recipient
                                                                         think you’re YELLING AT THEM.
 65. Always attach a live e-mail address to your From Line.
     This e-mail address, called a Reply-To, is the e-mail
     address that will catch any correspondence from
     recipients. Oftentimes, people just hit the ‘reply’ button. A
     live Reply-To is not only good policy; it’s the law according
     to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

                                 11                                                                  12
72. If possible, include a link at the top of the page that allows    81. Always include CAN-SPAM compliant information at the
     e-mail recipients to see the HTML version of the e-mail in            bottom of your e-mail, including where their e-mail
     their web browser. Sometimes an e-mail recipient has his              address comes from, the opportunity to unsubscribe, and
     inbox settings configured such that HTML images don’t                 the physical address they can write to if they don’t want
     download. By providing the link, the recipient is taken out           to click on the unsubscribe button.
     of his inbox and into his web browser, where the settings
     will allow him to see graphics. A simple sentence like this      82. It’s a good idea to test your e-mail lists often.
     should do the trick: “Can’t see the images? Click here.”
                                                                      83. Pay attention to your tracking report. It will tell you how
73. Always send out a text version of your HTML e-mail,                    well your direct marketing e-mail is doing. Your Open Rate
     which helps with deliverability. ISPs and spam filters don’t          will tell you something about your From Line and your
     mind these as much.                                                   Subject Line. Your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) will tell you
                                                                           about your offer and message.
74. Negative space or white space is effective in an HTML
     e-mail message as it presents a clean, uncluttered look          84. The number in your tracking report that tells you the
     that conveys a direct, simple message.                                quantity sent cannot tell you where your e-mail landed —
                                                                           whether in your recipients’ spam filters / bulk folders or in
75. Keep the body copy short. If you’re from the print world,              their proper inboxes.
     think postcard, not letter. Typically, you have less than 20
     seconds to convince your e-mail recipient not to hit her         85. Wait some time before pulling or requesting your tracking
     delete key.                                                           report. While you can get this information in real-time,
                                                                           metrics often improve and become more meaningful
76. That said, test the length of copy. If the product is new,             within a week.
     longer copy is sometimes better.

77. An alternate to this is to keep the details to a landing page          FOR LANDING/ORDER PAGES:
     that appears after a recipient clicks on a link in the e-mail.   86. A web site is only worthwhile to customers if the site is
                                                                           easy to navigate, interesting and relevant.
78. Don’t bury your offer. No matter what word count you use or
     if you add links or not, the offer needs to appear clearly and   87. Consider designing a new splash page on your web site,
     simply stated, usually at the top of the e-mail.                      specifically for your current test / product mailing. This can
                                                                           create a new sense of excitement with recipients. (A
79. The P.S. is not as important in e-mail copy as it is on print
                                                                           splash page is where your readers end up when they
     mail letters. Most times, it needn’t be there at all.
                                                                           enter a reply URL.) You can expose the prospect to more
                                                                           information about your company, product, service or other
80. Include a link to Forward to a Friend — the electronic
                                                                           things offered. Your Webmaster should be able to track
     element in viral marketing.
                                                                           clicks to this new page easily. This splash page can also
                                                                           be your landing page through a link embedded in an e-mail.

                                   13                                                                  14
88. Sometimes a better landing page is a simple order page.       VII. Old Salts
89. As with response forms, make your order page clean and              Sometimes, even the best sailors run into problems
    simple to fill out.                                                 after long days at sea. If you’ve developed a control
                                                                        package that has begun to have lackluster
90. As with the e-mail design, negative space or white space            performance, perhaps a cool change is necessary.
    is effective on an order page.
                                                                        Consider the following well-seasoned axioms:
91. Don’t request too much information if you can avoid it.
                                                                    96. It’s a good idea to take inventory of your current control
    Review all the fields you want to collect and really ask
                                                                        often. Try to look at it from a new perspective. And always
    yourselves if this is something worthwhile. The more
                                                                        look at it from the perspective of the recipient. The
    fields you’re asking someone to complete, the more likely
                                                                        recipient wants to know one thing, “What’s in it for me?”
    that person will decide to go to a different site.
                                                                    97. A simple change like adding a color or taking a color away
92. Be sure to include a link to your privacy policy on every
                                                                        from your OE may be enough to lift response. The idea is
    page of your site, including — and especially — your
                                                                        to get people to take another, longer look at a package
    landing and order pages.
                                                                        they’ve become bored with.
93. Include your physical address and phone number on your
                                                                    98. Simply testing new letter copy can yield a lift in response.
    order page. If your customers are having any difficulty,
                                                                        The new letter can be a shorter or longer version of the
    they like to pick up the phone and talk to someone live —
                                                                        previous one, or it can be written from scratch.
    even if you’re offering live chat capabilities.
                                                                    99. Try supplying a stand-alone reply form instead of a
94. Try out your order page. Place an order with yourself to
                                                                        business reply envelope (BRE). The newness of this
    test the process.
                                                                        postcard may lift response, and as above, it can reduce
95. Click on all your links. Make sure they work or take you to         costs. (But note this: A BRC isn’t necessarily cheaper than
    the place you want your customers to be taken.                      a response form/BRE combo, since the BRC has to print
                                                                        on heavier paper.)

                                                                   100. A lift note can be an effective means of highlighting a
                                                                        major benefit over a competitor’s product or in
                                                                        overcoming a major objection, like a high-ticket price for
                                                                        the product.

                                15                                                                  16
VIII. The Voyage Home:
  101. Do direct marketing differently! It’s true that known routes
        on well-charted maps can lead you directly to your goals.
        However, you may well miss the opportunity for new,
        valuable discoveries. The previous 100 rules of thumb are
        merely guidelines and not designed to limit your
        possibilities. We at BannerDirect believe in the power of
        creativity so strongly, we incorporate it into our brand:
        Direct Marketing Done Differently.

        We hope that these guidelines were helpful to you.
        But if you find yourself in uncharted waters and in
        need of issuing a direct marketing S.O.S., just take
        the “red wave” to BannerDirect. We look forward to
        any additional assistance we can provide.

        Bon voyage and smooth sailing!                                        Michael Walsh
                                                                              Vice President
                                                                              Strategy & Relationship Management
        P Call, write, fax or e-mail us for our capabilities                  222 West 83rd Street, Suite 7G
             material and FREE CD containing a virtual gallery                New York, NY 10024
             of our creative work!

                                                                      T   646.657.0855
                                                                      F   646.454.1124
                                                                      E   mwalsh@bannerdirect.com
                                                                      W   www.bannerdirect.com


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