Three Easy Ways to Track Response Rates in Direct Marketing Campaigns

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners launch direct marketing campaigns through email marketing, direct mail or other methods, then forget the most important aspect of a direct marketing campaign: tracking the results. One of the advantages of direct marketing is that is trackable and measurable. You can tell, for example, how much every dollar spent on direct marketing made back in sales. But you won’t be able to analyze your data if you fail to collect it.

You can test many aspects of a direct marketing campaign from the creative presentation to the offer. Each yields different insights that add valuable data to the marketing manager or business owner’s understanding of what drives sales. Tracking elements that you are testing in a direct marketing campaign offers the critical data points necessary for good decision-making about marketing campaigns.

Depending upon your campaign, the media, and the budget, there are many ways you can track responses to each direct marketing promotion. The following three methods are the lowest cost methods to track results from campaigns online or offline. Be sure to track only one element you’re testing at a time, or else you won’t be able to tell which element boosted the response rate.

Unique Campaign Response URL

URLs are so inexpensive these days, and it’s so easy to create a landing page for a campaign that using a unique URL to track different lists or tests within an online or direct mailing effort makes sense. You can place the unique tracking URL on direct mail pieces or include links in email campaigns. Choose URLs that are directly related to the campaign name, theme or the product or company name. Keep them short and easy to type if you are including them on direct mail pieces. Make sure that the landing pages are identical; if you include different text or graphics on the landing page, you are mixing too many elements into the test matrix.

Different Response Phone Numbers

A unique toll free number, phone number, or phone extension can also track responses in a direct marketing campaign, especially direct mail campaigns. Many companies use this method to track responses by promotional channel. Another variation on this theme is to list different “staff” in the marketing piece. Jane’s name may be on piece one, while Ann’s name on piece two. If the call center or operator is given a list of names, and knows to tick off the number of calls next to the names, you can get a good idea of the responsiveness of a promotion by tallying how many times Jane or Ann was requested.

Special Response Codes

You may be familiar with the codes on the back of catalogs in the colored boxes. These correspond to various tests or factors the catalog marketer wishes to track. Special codes may also be included on order forms to track responses. Sometimes customers find typing response codes into online forms onerous. Try rewarding customers who include their response codes with a free gift with purchase or another bonus to encourage them to reveal their response or source codes.

Testing Concepts

These three methods of tracking results from direct marketing campaigns work well with many types of tests. Whether you’re conducting a split test or a test with many variables, be sure to use tracking methods such as a unique landing page and URL, unique phone number or source codes so that you can analyze the response data later and make informed decisions about your marketing methods.

Direct Marketing Essentials – Create Better Mailings With Copywriting That Sells!

But whatever you’re trying to promote or sell, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want. Writing good, clear concise copy that effectively persuades readers to take some sort of action requires significant skill, time and attention to detail.

So if your up for the writing challenge, I have included 12 Wonder Words which copywriters use to turn prospects into customers, plus I’ve outlined some guidelines to create better mailings.

Wonder Words That Grab Attention

Before you start rolling up your sleeves, you should write the following words down on a post-it note and stick it on your computer or fridge to remember:

They appear in no particular order:

  • You
  • Love
  • Proven
  • Easy
  • Safely
  • Discovery
  • Save
  • Results
  • New
  • Guaranteed
  • Health
  • Money

So why are these wonder words so important?

Well, did you know that Yale University Researches have identified them as the 12 most powerful words in the human language?

These words just so happen to attract readers attention more than any other words, while working on a very powerful, emotional level.

But it is important to remember that these words should only be used as tools when integrating them within your copy. If your copy is poor, particularly your grammar, then these words will not win over a new customer. But they will make your communication so much more enticing.

Here’s how easy it is to include them within your copy:

Discover how you can generate more money by using this easy copywriting method, saving you thousands of dollars with proven results. Guaranteed!

Empathise with your target market

The main purpose of copywriting within a direct mail context, is not used to inspire admiration, it is there to get people to do something. The entire design and conception of direct mail piece, for example, must be built around this simple but vital necessity: Get Action!

So when writing your copy, you have to start with understanding your target market. You will need to ask relevant questions and genuinely empathise with your customers. This may involve talking to your current and past customers, studying testimonials, even talking to customer service staff, who usually provide some very interesting vies.

You should try and identify what type of person they are. What is really motivating them to respond? Is it:

  • Greed?
  • Worry?
  • Status?
  • Revenge?
  • Dreams?
  • Anger?
  • Sex?
  • Saving Money?
  • Power?

It could be any of these reasons or combination, but I believe that only a few motives are ever at work.

To view this in a more simplistic way, it has been identified that everything functions for either pain or gain in this world, and it’s the same for every person. Although every marketer would agree that people will always try to avoid pain over pleasure or gain.

In other words, in order to get your customers to take action and buy from you, your product or service needs to overcome the pain and suffering associated with their problems.

You need to stop talking about yourself and how wonderful your business is, and start addressing your customers problems by outlining the benefits associated with the product or service you’re trying to sell.

For example, if you have a massage chair that is equipped with all the latest technology, you’re not going to start by mentioning that it has 12 multi-function settings, but rather focus on reducing back pain and restoring circulation.

After fully understanding the person you are talking to, you now need to consider what format you want to write in and the critical elements needed given the overall proposition. In fact, until the format and the elements are satisfactory, you should not write a word.

Creating Better Mailings

Focusing on direct mail in particular, the key ingredients to include for a successful mail-out would typically include the outer envelope, the letter, the order form, the reply envelope, the brochure, and the flyer.

It is far better for a writer and designer to sort out the overall plan before undertaking the specifics. Plus the function and message of each item becomes clearer as you start to develop them. Writing too early will be a waste, as ideas change and thoughts change.

But for the purpose of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the three key elements of the direct mail package where effective copywriting is absolutely critical and the main points you need to consider before you start writing:

The letter

In studies, the majority of people look for a letter first when the open their mail. But many businesses fail to use them in their mailings. There are some absolutes when it comes to direct mail – you must always include a letter and you must have a very strong reason for not making it a long one.

Why does it have to be long? Well if you want tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want, you need to be prepared to write some enticing copy. And I doubt if you can provide enough detail or a compelling reason in a cover letter only containing 2 to 3 paragraphs.

To write a letter that is going to entice your customers you need to structure it in a format that will keep the reader moving down the page by incorporating the following key elements:

  1. Attention Grabbing title – Used to get people to focus on you, your products and how you can benefit them. I normally write 30 different titles or more before I come up with a winner. You should even consider doing A/B split testing to track the best response.
  2. Introduction – After capturing your readers’ interest, now direct their attention to your introduction. Write a brief paragraph about your product or service to let them know exactly what you have to offer them. Keep it brief and to the point with no fluff. You need to capture the promise made in the title in only a few seconds before the reader loses interest.
  3. Identify the Problem – This goes back to empathising with your customers and help overcoming their problems. Providing a ‘reason why’ you’re writing the letter is also critical when making an offer to your customers, and it is best relayed in the form of a story. In fact, good copywriters and marketers often use stories the reader can relate to.
  4. Provide a Solution – Tangible benefits, not features that can help your customers. After identifying your customers greatest fears and concerns, show them how other people, just like them, have overcome these problems and discovered there was nothing to worry about.
  5. Details of what you are trying to sell – This contains all the pertinent information such as what’s on offer, what brands, what service your providing? You need to deliver on the promise made by the title.
  6. Testimonials – Provide evidence of happy customers. Please ensure they are the original letters for them to carry any authority at all.
  7. Endorsements – Whether they be from a celebrity, or an official organisation, an endorsement will help bring credibility to your product or service.
  8. Use an enticing marketing offer – An additional offer is used over and above what you are trying to sell. It could be a free gift, free information or a free consultation. It helps to overcome BUYERS INERTIA and gets the reader to take action.
  9. Contact information – How do you want your customers to contact you?
  10. Your signature -….and not a digital one that has been scanned onto the page.
  11. Use a P.S. to reiterate the offer and even another P.S.S. to outline any other important information. E.g. A deadline or, advising the product is only available to first 100 callers. These help the reader to ‘take action’ now.

What is your copywriting style?

Now that you have the right layout to use for your letter, you also need to be aware of the tone and style of your writing, and what is the best way to lay out the copy to make it easier to understand? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Most letters are written in a compassionate, informal style to provide a more human touch to help the writer relate better to the reader.
  • The approach you should take is to let the customer know that you are talking to him or her as a person and not some random number or customer. Always personalise your letter where possible.
  • Use bullet points and sub headings to break up information and make it easier for the reader digest. Your subheadings should provide highlights of each section of your sales letter and be displayed in a larger, bold font.
  • Bold important information, titles, sub headings and key points
  • Change the colour to broadcast your offer. Colour can be used to draw the reader’s attention to get something for FREE!
  • Use italics and underline for greater emphasis on a word.
  • Use a handwriting font to express your testimonials as they provide more credibility.

The brochure

If you have a budget, then a brochure of some form is always useful. It will improve response but it isn’t always critical to include in a mail pack. It should be seen as complimentary to the other items rather than the hero.

What I mean by brochure, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be high cost and a lavish 4-colour production. It can indeed be in black and white. Usually its role is to provide credibility to the rest of the mailing with pictures, charts and other informative items.

In this role, the brochure shares the selling task with the other items, so what you say in the letter copy may be replicated in the brochure, but said differently of course. The tone of the brochure copy is completely different. The letter is typically writing using a chattier, more colloquial style, while the official brochure is more formal.

Never fall into the trap of leaving things out of the letter, as if you were going to save it for the brochure. Both items have to stand on their own feet but also contain the entire selling message. Only the tone and style is different, which provides excellent practice to developing your flexibility with different copy styles.

The flyer

The flyer is basically any other piece of paper you want to add to your direct mail pack.

You may think that your letter and brochure have provided your prospective customer with all the information they need. But it is primarily used as a stand-out piece. It sticks out and draws the reader’s attention while reinforcing the message.

The flyer mainly comes in two forms, the testimonials letter, or ‘third voice’ letter, and the free gift flyer.

A variation of the testimonial letter is the ‘third voice’ because it appears to come in the form from someone other than the writer of the main letter. An example of this letter can be applied to fundraising: The state government will have credibility in signing an appeals letter, but you can’t really have them asking for cash. Therefore, we would write a separate letter from the Leader talking about politics, but with a little bit at the end talking about the need for funds.

The free gift flyer has two jobs to perform. First, it has to focus the readers mind on the free gift, then it has to be able to ‘sell it’. All too often the free gift flyers end up as a photograph of a watch with a paragraph underneath stating ‘FREE’ in bold. This is hardly going to give you the results you want. Many other types of flyer can be devised. In fact, don’t limit yourself to just one – I’ve seen successful mail packs use as many as 50 flyers!

To sum up

So that is a brief overview of how to create better mailing using effective copywriting. By now I think you will agree that if you use the right words, the right tone and style, and the right format, while focusing on the primary needs of your customers – you can’t go wrong.

It may be easier said than done, which is why you may have to consider using an experienced copywriter to get the most out of your next direct marketing initiatives.

Are The Direct Marketing Products You Are Using Not Working Like You Hoped? Here Is Why

When you are looking for direct marketing products to use for your business you are going to look for the ones that are going to be a good fit for your business.

Your goal is to get noticed, and this is not going to be hard to do when you have the right type of products. There is a reason why you have chosen to get more creative in your marketing, and that is because response has been down.

When you finally decide on the type of marketing products you want to use some of them are going to seem so creative that you figure the response is going to be overwhelming.

The extra money you are willing to spend is going to seem like a good investment. Now when you finally put these products out there with your message on it, you sit back and wait for the avalanche of business you are going to get.

Why the business you were expecting to get never comes.

Using creative marketing products to get your message out there is a good idea, but it cannot be a substitute for a certain thing you have to do if you hope to be successful with your campaign.

You have to be willing to test, test, and test some more if you want to be successful. In fact, you should not even use really expensive marketing products until you have tested a marketing message enough to know that it is responsive to some degree.

What minimal response means when the marketing shifts to better marketing products

Let’s say that you did a plain old direct mail campaign where you used regular envelopes to get your message out there. You might not be expecting a lot, but if the marketing message you used got at least a 1% response then you are good to go.

This goes for almost any type of direct advertising you do. Depending on the profit you hope to make per sale the degree of response needed to be profitable might be even less.

Now these lesser methods are not expensive, and they can be used to test. Once you see that a certain marketing message gets the response you need to be profitable you can change it onto direct marketing products that are going to grab far more attention and probably get several times more the response as using cheaper methods.

Cheaper methods are often not that effective because in a lot of cases the message never gets seen.

Do you know what type of direct marketing products will be right for your business?

Before you decide to go all in with any type of products for your direct marketing campaign seriously, you will want a way to test even these. Some of the products you might find are going to be expensive.

So you will want to go small at first just to see how a small segment of your target niche might respond to them.

It is a good idea to have a budget available just for this. Once you see that a certain products works the way you need it to then you can amp things up. You have tested, and as a result you have taken out a lot of the risk.

Do not rely on the direct marketing products you use to supplement your lack of a good marketing message or a bad design.

These things are very important and will also require testing to make sure you get the type of response you need to with your direct marketing campaign.