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How to Improve Response Rates in Direct Mail Advertising

Updated on July 16, 2014
Direct Response Ad Coupons Should Be Easy To Fill
Direct Response Ad Coupons Should Be Easy To Fill | Source

Tables in Ads and Mailings

According to Drayton Bird, former International Creative Director and Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, there are certain techniques that will increase the response to financial ads and mailings. These include the inclusion of clear tables, easy application forms and writing that makes the customer feel special and offers him a refund.

Tables make things easier for people to understand. Large tables which clearly outline what the customer gets and what the customer has to pay tend to improve response. However, as Bird points out, the benefit - the sum he gets – has to be mentioned before divulging the cost.

It pays to have no more than two or three options in insurance packages. Thus, you can have the Economy policy, the Standard policy, and the Deluxe policy. It’s better to call them by names that are a bit sexier – like Bronze, Silver and Gold, or Three Star, Four Star and Five Star.”

Big, Easy to Fill in Application Forms

Many copywriters make the mistake of not paying enough attention to the application forms. What’s the point of creating a great ad or mailing when people can’t respond to it? The application form must be easy to understand with no unnecessary questions included. The customer should not have to work to fill in the order form. Says Bird: “This is basic Direct Marketing. We all know how much a simplified application form can improve Card applications.”

Finally, of course, the application form should tell the customer what the deal is. How much money it will cost him and exactly what he will get in return, “ just as an ordinary order form would – in case people lose the rest of the package or tear the coupon off the ad and keep it to read later.”

Response Device In The Form Of Questionnaire- Note The Easy To Fill Form
Response Device In The Form Of Questionnaire- Note The Easy To Fill Form | Source

Some Tricks that Seem to Improve Direct Response

The smart copywriter will make sure that his ad or mailing makes the customer feel special. He should be made to feel that the offer is exclusively for him and is not available to just anyone. Offering some kind of refund also improves response rates by adding credibility. According to Bird, it is almost invariably a good idea to say things like the following (these are his suggestions):

‘As a Cardmember you belong to a special group. And at American Express we can use the buying power of this group to negotiate better deals on your behalf.’

Bird adds that it’s important to make it clear, though, that this is an offer from American Express, not the supplier. AmEx branding must predominate.

‘We had our experts carefully examine what all the insurance companies have to offer. In our view this policy represents the best value.’

‘Compare this with any other policy. If you can find anything that gives you better value, we’ll be more than delighted to refund your money without question.’

‘We give you a period of (as many days as possible) so that you can be sure you’re getting absolutely the best possible value. If you don’t agree, we’re more than happy to refund your money.’

All these techniques work, says Bird, and have a substantial impact on results. As do tested Direct Marketing techniques like close dates – telling people this offer is only available until such and such a date – and stickers to indicate which policy they want. These should be incorporated wherever possible.


Boost Response Rates

There are many techniques used by smart copywriters to improve response rates for financial ads and mailings. The inclusion of clear tables and easy to fill application forms are a couple of these techniques. Copy that makes the prospect feel specially chosen for the offer is another response booster. A sure-fire way to pull more responses is to add the assurance of a refund in case the customer finds a better deal elsewhere.

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Drayton Bird's Commonsense Creative notes previously only accessible to employees of Ogilvy & Mather.

Drayton Bird with "The 5Ws Of Marketing"


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