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Top Tips for Writing and Sending: Response mechanisms

CEBUS

Top Tips for Writing and Sending Direct Marketing

Response mechanisms

We’ve established the main aim of a DM piece is to get a recipient to interact with your organisation. Of the myriad of different options to persuade someone to make contact, here are a few to consider:
Time limited offers
An offer available to the first selected number of respondents
Free documents or reports
Competitions
Promotions and discounts
Provision of further information
Registration at an event
Surveys or questionnaires
Direct marketing is a practice that’s been used by marketeers for years to gain direct access to the end consumer.
Make sure your response mechanism is appropriate – ie. it’s not the best idea to send a letter to a list of senior citizens asking them to go to a website, download a demo that will email them a 20% of discount voucher to be redeemed in an online computer games shop! Some of the best response mechanisms for corporate mailings include market research information, survey results or relevant reports on industry or technological developments.

It’s also worth listing the usual methods that are used to gain replies. Although this may seem obvious, you will get a better response rate if you choose the most appropriate method for your audience and form of communication. Responses generally come from one of the following sources:
Post
Fax
Web page
Phone call
SMS

Whichever one of the above you choose to use as your response mechanism, you must ensure that it has been thoroughly tested and works properly before you send out your communication. There’s no point in asking people to ring a freephone number if it doesn’t work or, worse still, you haven’t properly briefed the response team who will be handling the calls.

There are other response options that can be utilised, eg. a promotion for a new mobile phone might offer the first 100 people who arrive at a specific place on a certain date a free upgrade. But, be wary of such promotions as they can get out of hand if not carefully managed.

One last thing, please, if you’re sending something in the post – don’t stuff the envelope full of pieces of paper. The days of multiple-piece DM are long gone and will only make your organisation look unprofessional and dated. Your message will be at best diluted, and more likely lost, in the stack of literature. As well as costing you a fortune in production and postage, you run the risk of alienating recipients who are conscious of the environmental effects your huge mailing has caused.

Use of offers, promotions, etc

By including a compelling offer or relevant promotion in your message you can boost your response rate considerably. These don’t just have to be monetary incentives or discounts; information is a key incentive to get people clicking through to websites and posting back forms.

For example, most people know they ought to have a will but haven’t got round to writing one. However, after a major life changing event, such as the birth of a child, they will be more receptive to a message offering them this service at a discounted rate. Especially if the communication highlights key areas they may not have considered – such as guardianship and trusts. In the corporate world an example could be offering corporate lawyers a download of a free report explaining how new legislation affects corporations. This offer is something that is of direct value to the identified target and should elicit a positive response.

On the point of web landing pages, one very important thing to remember is have a registration form for any downloads. Here you gather visitor details (these can be as simple as name, company and email address) so they ‘opt in’ to your mailing list – then you can add them to your mailing list for future communication programs.

Time-limited offers and limited number offers are a good way of getting fast responses. If you say that the first 50 responses will get a free gizmo, or the offer on a cheap insurance deal is only available for 72 hours – this pushes people into action and so boosts your response rates.

Competitions provide an incentive and you may get a lot of respondents, but be aware that some people will only be interested in winning the free MP3 player (or whatever) rather than wanting your services. If you run a competition, make sure that you read the regulations relevant to your country or region as rules vary considerably from area to area. Usually you will need to provide the full rules somewhere accessible (eg. on a website) and it always make sense to advertise the competition winner(s) afterwards to stop a small, but irritating, stream of enquiries asking if an entrant won or not.

The main thing to ensure when sending out an offer is that you can fulfil demand. There’s nothing worse than generating interest and then not being able to meet it. For example, you’re a single trader offering a window cleaning service, you send out an eblast to 3,000 people offering 25% off the first visit and you get 500 responses – you’re not going to be able to get round everyone for weeks! Not only does this cause you a real headache in terms of dealing with the responses – eating up time you’d otherwise spend generating income – you’re also damaging your reputation as people are not receiving the offer they were promised which ruins your credibility. A better approach is to send out emails in smaller batches and monitor the response rate. If response is poor, you can always increase the numbers being sent out.

Ensure it`s legal

To build good relationships with potential clients you’ve got to demonstrate that you represent a reputable organisation with a sound offer. This must be reflected in your direct marketing materials and one of the best ways to ensure credibility is to make sure your communications are legal. Rules vary from country to country so, if you’re unsure of the law in a particular region, check with an expert. For example, in Germany the rules on sending spam (unsolicited email) are very strict and unless someone has opted in to your mailing list, you will find yourself in deep water if you email them directly.

Equally important is to ensure that your materials do not contain anything that could be considered racist, sexist, offensive or other potentially provocative messaging. Remember there are numerous cultures, religions, beliefs and views and what seems a fairly inoffensive phrase to one person can be distasteful to another. This is especially important when sending email as the address can give no hint where a person lives.

Some countries operate preference lists – in the UK an individual or business can register not to receive cold calls or junk mail, so calling or sending these people information is an offence. This has gone further in some areas where, in an attempt to combat crime, door-to-door canvassing is no longer allowed.

With regard to email, a law in several countries requires you to let someone opt out of future correspondence. If someone contacts you requesting to be removed from your mailing list, make sure that you do this – immediately. If you can’t do it straight away, make sure your opt out message includes a statement along the lines of: ‘it can take up to 28 days to remove your details from our mailing list’.

To sum up:

Check the local laws relating to sending DM/eDM
If you are running a competition, make sure it’s legal
Ensure your materials don’t contain any potentially offensive messages
Check your list doesn’t include people who have opted out
Include an option to opt out of future mailings

Abigail Shone

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