Posts tagged #longcopy

Three Deadly Direct Mail Myths

Myths vserus facts.jpg

The direct marketing principles in this article apply to other direct channels such as print, DRTV and permission email. These principles are generally accepted by direct marketing professionals who know what they know through empirical testing. In other words, for direct marketers, this knowledge does not come from customer surveys where customers say one thing but do the opposite when they pull out their checkbooks. But rather these answers are based on actual behavior and results taken from thousands of direct response tests performed across virtually every industry and audience.

1. Great creative execution is as important to a successful direct marketing program as the offer.

This is false.

A great offer will out pull almost any well executed creative execution.

Brawn wins over beauty in direct response marketing. In fact, slickness often reduces response. But all things being equal, make your offer easy to understand. Match it with well thought out benefit copy to show the prospect how to win by buying your product.

2. Words like FREE and INTRODUCTORY are so overused they have lost their effectiveness.

Again, this is false.

These words continue to increase response as they have for generations. I do believe, as some have concluded, that a good brand has become more important than ever in a world overflowing with new products. But wisely incorporate news and compelling FREE offers if given the opportunity.

For one high-end jewelry retailer, we overcame the concern we had about weakening the brand with words like FREE by converting the FREE offer into a Gift Certificate. The offer was a $100 free gift certificate for any past customer who purchased over $500 or more of product in a single visit if purchased within the next 30 days. It was the most successful traffic builder they had ever created.

3. Successful direct marketing copy should strive for brevity above all, because the audience of today has little time to read.

The opposite is true. Longer copy that spells out the benefits for responding to your offer now gets higher response rates. Oh, but you might say, my executive customers and professionals don't have the time to go through that much copy!

That seems logical, but long copy pulls better because your copy must neutralize buyer resistance.

Therein lies the key - the buying audience. This is the group that will actually respond to you and not everyone who receives your message. You are talking in full only to those prospects who intend to buy or respond to you for more information. Those .03%-2% of the direct mail recipients will actually read much of the copy. The balance of the recipients will scan your headline and your offer deciding not to proceed further.

Added to that, you want to do all you can to address your buying audience's questions and objections right then. It will often be your only chance to make the sale.This applies to all audiences.

I have tested long versus short copy across many professions and demographics. This included working moms, high-level executives, insurance sales representatives and physicians. The tests came back with the same answer. Write the complete story., even if it requires a lot of copy.

In future posts, I will address other assumptions about direct marketing creative work that hamstring direct mail efforts.

Posted on January 5, 2019 and filed under Direct Mail.

What typically pulls best? Long or short copy?

What have you found in your experiences with short and long copy in direct marketing communications? Does copy need to shorten to remain effective today?

I run into all kinds of marketers in many industries in my consulting business. The projects include newspaper subscription promotions, B2B lead generation, B2C insurance lead generation, retail store traffic building, B2C catalog sales … the list goes on from there. The question I often get from both experienced and inexperienced direct marketers deals with copy length. Most copy length comments involve direct mail letters that go over one page.

The common statement is: “Well, I would never read all of that.” Then I simply reply that testing in multiple media and various industries show that better results come from saying what you need to say to get the prospect to act.

That is why it is so important to make the copy skimmable with easy to read type, short paragraphs and paragraph headings.

There really is no answer to the question except that the copy length in successful campaigns will exceed what you are comfortable with if you have to ask the question.

Making a sale off the page in ANY medium requires more copy than lead generation copy. When getting a lead, you are building interest in the product, but your primary goal is to sell the appointment. Leave some selling ammunition for the sales person to close the deal.

Selling a product, however, requires anticipating and answering all of the objections. Furthermore, the copy translates the product features into benefits. That approach takes more copy and time than simply positioning the product for branding purposes.

Two-minute spots typically get better ROI than 30 second DRTV spots. Longer emails that must get orders off the page take far more copy than simply trying to generate a click through to your web site. Two and even four-page letters remain controls for years in direct mail.

There are always exceptions, but if you are competing with a selling message that does not answer all of the objections, then go for longer copy to beat your control.

The counter argument I get is that people are too busy today. Buyers don’t read any more. Just stick with the facts before they loose interest. And the list goes on.

The answer to all of these comments is simple.

We can hypothesize why something should or should not work, but in the world of direct response, only the customer’s vote counts. If you test your hypothesis, and it doesn’t work, then the answer is that the hypothesis was wrong. Otherwise, go with what works based on true A/B split testing.

Does this sound counterintuitive to you? Have you found through A/B split testing that shorter copy out pulled your long copy control by a significant margin (that is at least by 15% cost per sale or cost per lead)? What are your thoughts on the subject?

Posted on August 13, 2007 and filed under Direct Response Creative.