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The 10 Commandments of Direct Marketing, Part 2

Moses was not a marketer, but he clearly knew how to deliver a message. Those stone tablets would make anyone stop and pay attention.

Likeoses, we have some important information to share. It’s time for the second installment in the 10 Commandments of Direct Marketing.

To recap, the first five direct marketing commandments included:

1. Thou shalt include clear calls to action
2. Thou shalt not downplay the offer
3. Remember the P.S. and honor its power
4. Thou shalt stress the expiration date
5. Thou shalt not rest without a test

Now we turn our sights to direct marketing commandments six through ten. Here are more direct marketing best practices, set in proverbial stone.

6. Know thy target like thyself
The better you know your prospects—who they are, what they want and when they’re open to buy—the more likely your message will resonate with them. Don’t just settle for the generic demographic information… dig deeper. For example, it helps to talk to customer service telephone representatives if you can. Those folks are on the front lines. The top phone reps often have great insights into which benefits are truly motivating customers.

7. Thou shalt use responsive design
Mobile phones are fast becoming the preferred way to read emails and websites. So it’s crucial to use responsive design for your emails and websites. In fact, using responsive email design is now considered an important email best practice. Research indicates that nearly half of mobile phone users feel frustrated and annoyed when they visit a site that isn’t mobile-friendly. And an annoyed prospect isn’t likely to respond.
8. Thou shalt include every important selling point
How much is too much when it comes to copy? That’s easy. You need exactly how many words it takes to cover the information a prospect needs to take action. No more, no less. If the copy seems too long, don’t worry. One of the advantages of direct mail is that you can usually find space to add content. But be careful to leave out superficial copy. Long-winded content can kill response rates. Be a harsh editor. Always ask yourself and your writer, “Is there a shorter way to say this? Can we be more clear?” Here’s another advantage of direct mail. It can be a highly effective lead generation tool when it is used to drive a prospect online for conversion. Once the prospect is interested enough to go online, your landing page, PURL or website can provide more information and close the transaction. That means you have the ability to tell the complete story across multiple channels to generate response.

9. Thou shalt present the sales message in two ways
This commandment might sound a little counterintuitive when you’re trying to be concise. But it’s actually a proven format. Direct marketing best practices call for presenting the sales message in two different ways. First, provide the content in paragraph form so it can be read by someone who needs the full story to make an informed decision. Second, cover the key points in a sidebar or bulleted summary so it can be scanned. When you present the information this way it allows readers to quickly scan the content and see if they’re interested. If so, they can always read the body copy for an in-depth look.

10. Thou shalt not use spam triggers
Spam filters can sink your email before it even gets started. That’s why email best practices suggest you take them into account when writing emails. You probably know some common triggers like symbols and excessive punctuation. But there are many others. So keep a comprehensive list of SPAM trigger words handy in case you’re unsure about a specific word or phrase. One more key point: Using a spam trigger word once won’t necessarily get your email blocked. However, repeated use of flagged words probably will. So be on the safe side. Always try to run your emails through a spam filter test before deployment to avoid unforeseen problems.

That covers our 10 Commandments of Direct Marketing. To be honest, I had a few more that would have been great to share. But even Moses knew 13 commandments would be a bit excessive.

Now it’s time to amp up your direct mail response rates. 

Anatomy of a Direct Mail Letter

Topics: Direct marketing

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