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Get Them To Pay Attention – Reader Response Rate

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(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Want to Increase Reader Response Rate?

Would you like to be able to put into practice best copy-writing practices for all of your company’s media? Specifically, how about best practices for direct mail and e-mail marketing?

Do you happen to be one of the following?

  • A copywriter
  • An agency client
  • A manager that approves copy
  • A business owner who creates and/or approves direct mail and email copy

If so, then I encourage – No, I implore you to continue reading.

The intent is to provide you with copy-writing best practices based on the experience, knowledge and wisdom of industry-leading copy-writing experts. Granted, the focus of this article is mainly on direct mail, yet nearly 100% of these best practices apply to copy for e-mail and other media used to encourage positive customer response. The same basic principles do apply. You’ll see.

  • Develop and implement a copy platform that supports your business objective. Developing and implementing a platform to achieve the objective of your firm is true whether your goals focus on generating:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Traffic
  • Referrals
  • Customer loyalty

  • Study and understand your company’s current brand personality, brand position, and tone of voice used in copy. Sustain these three characteristics by using similar words and writing style in all forms of communication. Copy consistency is a key factor in the market success of your business.

  • Know your audience/target market inside and out. This holds true for prospective customers, first-time users of your product and/or service, multi-buyers or company advocates.

  • Write and design for readers that tend to scan copy. Current customers, prospective customers, clients, employees and peers rarely read every single word you write.

  • Insert important product/service benefits and results in critical areas of the copy. For example, be sure benefits and results are in such areas as:

  • P.S.
  • Sidebars
  • Headlines
  • Johnson box
  • Bulleted copy
  • E-mail from field
  • E-mail subject field
  • Outer envelope teaser

  • Focus on your company’s product/service benefits, NOT the features. Features simply describe, however benefits answer the customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?

  • Add a P.S. at the conclusion of your promotional/communication piece. 30% of your readers will read the P.S. first. As a matter of fact, refer to something earlier in the copy in the P.S. to possibly draw the reader back up the copy.

  • One size doesn’t fit all. The same feature may offer different benefits to different members of your firm’s target market(s).

  • Utilize the word “you” twice as often as “I” or “we” to increase reader involvement and create rapport with the reader.

  • Sentences should be 1.5 lines or less to accommodate for readers that tend to scan. Compelling copy is paced with a combination of long and short sentences.

  • Make paragraphs short. For instance, paragraphs should consist of six lines or less for direct mail, five lines or less for e-mail.

  • Be aware that the average person reads at an elementary school level.

  • Line length on the page or screen should be short enough for ease on the reader’s eyes. Short line length assists the reader in tracking from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line.

  • Use active verbs. For example it is better to be stated in copy that, “He saved her 100’s of dollars.” vs. “100’s of dollars were saved by her.

  • Capture your reader’s eye by putting the most powerful words at the beginning of ALL:

  • Headlines
  • Sentences
  • Paragraphs
  • Bulleted copy

  • Be numerically-specific. The number 347 is more credible and compelling than rounding to 350.

  • The number 347 is also easier to scan, and has more immediate impact than three hundred and forty-seven. Not to mention the obvious – 347 takes up less space.

  • Free” is the most influential word in the English language. “Free” is a darn good price!

  • Create sidebars and links that support and promote your business objective. Don’t lead your reader away from your call to action.

  • Inform your reader exactly and accurately on what you want him or her to do and how to do it. Repeat your call to action on each element of your mailings, your e-mails, and your website.

  • Market your offer, not your specific product and/or service. Your offer possesses many benefits to your customers, not simply free shipping, a discount or free gift.

  • Lead key sentences, headlines and bullet points with strong verbs.

  • Provide specific examples on product and/or service benefits.

  • Avoid being clever for the sake of being clever. 50% of your readers won’t get it.

  • Include a guarantee. Prospective customers require a guarantee. Additionally, your established customers appreciate being reminded that you offer a guarantee.

  • Utilize testimonials and customer results to add credibility, answer tough questions and anticipate objections.

  • Read your copy out loud to ensure the copy is appropriately conversational – and ask an objective colleague to read your copy as well.

  • If something is important, state that important aspect more than once, however state that crucial quality in a different way.

  • Add benefit captions under photos because readers are drawn to images. Benefit captions may state, “Look below to learn more.”

  • Create a writer’s rough layout for general copy positioning.

  • Write copy that’s long enough to tell your story effectively. Studies indicate that interested readers trust longer copy – even if those same readers don’t read every word.

  • Make it as simple as possible for your customers to respond whether in person, by phone, mail, e-mail or on your company’s landing page.

  • Test the most important copy elements first (headline, teaser, Johnson box, etc.).

Two final points for you to keep in mind -

  1. The job of the direct-response copywriter is to cause either immediate or delayed-response – not necessarily win any awards.
  2. Maybe some of these tips run counter to what you may have learned in your college English composition class. That’s perfectly alright.

A professional copywriter is not tasked with writing a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. The trained copywriter uses words that influence the reader to take action whether that action is to pick up the phone, visit your store, click on a link, mail in an order or visit your website. The focus of a copywriter is to persuade your customers to take positive action toward your company’s offer.

Steve Whitaker

Steve’s Light Bulb Moments LLC

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