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The Direct Mail Doctor is in

Posted by Randy Mitchell on November 4, 2014

Direct marketing certainly has its share of maladies. Sinking response rates, a lack of campaign cohesion and trying to stand out in a cluttered mailbox are all common symptoms.

Fortunately, the Direct Mail Doctor is keeping office hours and standing by with proven remedies. Here are some of the cases he is currently working on.

Too much information?

Dear Direct Mail Doctor,
I need you to settle an argument I’m having with our copywriter. We can’t agree about the amount of information in direct mail letters. First, she covers all of the essential information in the body of the letter. That makes sense to me. But then she insists on repeating some of the key points again in a bulleted format on the side of the letter. Isn’t this too much information? I’ve tried talking her out of it but she insists that writing letters this way is one of the direct mail best practices. Is this true?
- TMI in Tennessee

Dear TMI,
Your writer is right on. Effective direct mail letters should present information in two different ways. I call this writing for a “full read” and a “quick read” audience. Let me explain. The body of the letter is the place where you can put the “full read” approach to work. The idea is to provide your target with enough information to make a truly informed decision. In other words, everything you need to get them to “yes.” The second technique is the “quick read,” and it’s the choice for people who just want to scan. Typically, this involves covering key points of your message in the sidebar of the letter. These points frequently include the primary benefits, offer, call to action and expiration date. Testing has shown that this direct mail best practice helps lift response. It’s also why you’ll see this tactic used in many direct mail examples. By presenting the information in a full read and quick read format, you’ll ensure that your letter tells your story in a way that works for the individual preferences of your audience.


Response device dilemma

Dear Doc,
I have a real DM dilemma and maybe you can help. I’m considering dropping one of the components we always send in our direct mail package. I was thinking of eliminating the perf-off response device. You know, to save a few cents. But the package is our control, so I’m a little hesitant to make any changes. The point came up because it seems like most of our prospects contact us via phone, through email or on our web site. Do I still need the response device?
- Pennywise in Pennsylvania

Dear Pennywise,
Believe it or not, your question is asked all the time. In this age of instant response, many marketers think the physical mail-back response device is a bit archaic. But that’s simply not the case. The fact is about 20% to 25% of customers typically respond using the printed device. It’s one of the big advantages of direct mail. But that’s only part of the role this important element plays. The response device also serves as a subliminal reminder to act. It tells your prospect that they need to do something quickly and puts them in the mindset of response. Of course, you should also include the phone number, web address or PURL and email option on your response device. Remember, you want to use every direct mail best practice you can and the response device certainly qualifies as one.

That’s all for this time. But the Direct Mail Doctor will be back soon, ready to answer more direct marketing questions.


Topics: Direct Marketing

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