Quick Takes | Open Says-A You


Effective direct marketing through email or direct mail requires that your communication gets opened.  You don’t need a genie to improve open rates and response with careful attention to four details.

4 Ways to Get Read and Get More Response

In direct marketing, whether email or US postal service mail, one of the keys to increasing your response rate is increasing your open rates and getting your offer read.   Let’s assume whether you’re using email or direct mail, you’ve got a good list with correct addresses, so the communication will be received.  But whether you’re using high tech or low tech delivery, response rates have fallen dramatically.  The inundation of everyone’s inbox and mailbox with junk messages – from unknown senders with unrequested offers, has depressed open rates.  But you don’t need magic to make sure the resources put into your promotion and edgy creative yield a positive return.  Check these simple but often overlooked details improve your open rates before anything gets sent.

1.     Make the message seem important, urgent if possible – when the recipient sees your communication their first reaction should be that it’s important, valuable, relevant, fun/unique or entertaining to them.  If you can register one of these assessments with your outer envelope or your subject line you’re on your way to getting opened and read.  With traditional letters this means attention to the envelope or postcard stock and size, as well as using a meter or stamp for postage.  Many direct marketers include a time sensitive, target specific or brand message on the envelope or in the subject line such as, “Dated Material, Last Day to Receive 40% off Nike Air, Skier’s Resort Discounts.”  Email recipients will register the subject line and “From” address, so be sure to include brands or companies they have some relationship with.

2.   Use an involvement device – Once the message is opened, engaging the recipient immediately gets the offer and benefits understood and keeps them reading the “call to action”, in other words – response.   Printed mail has a variety of creative options from an offer summary positioned in a call-out or “Johnson Box” at the top of the page, to color, pictures and three dimensional post-it notes, stickers and other inclusions.  Photos make benefits and offers of intangibles like service and information more “real” and motivating.   In addition to color and photos, email marketers have animation as well as many interactive devices such as polls, surveys, links that open new windows, and scroll or mouse- over apps that change the messages appearance, all of which will increase readership and potential response.

3.   Sell benefits, conversationally, concisely – The first paragraph and the post-script (PS) of any message get the most attention after pictures, captions and headlines.  Make sure your copy starts with the offer, and delivers it like you’re speaking to your best friend.   Restate or expand on the offer in your close and in a PS to motivate immediate response.

4.   Use a time sensitive call to action–In direct marketing its essential that the reader understands why you’ve written, what’s in it for them and how to respond at a glance.  Add an expiration date, or limit to the volume of participants to your offer as in, “The first 100 customers to respond,” or “special midday sale today from 11am – 2pm et” to stimulate response in a set timeframe and create a sense of urgency for the reader.