Editor’s Picks: 2012’s Top Direct Marketing Tips for Each ‘Target Marketing’ Editor

I work on Denny’s weekly Business Common Sense e-newsletter columns, as well as his monthly Famous Last Words magazine columns, so suffice to say, after nearly five years I’ve received quite the copywriting and design education. While some direct marketing design tips clash with my own personal aesthetic, I can at least appreciate that good design is calculated; it’s drafted to make a sale, not just look pretty.

Denny’s tip to not print dark copy on a dark background might seem obvious, but take a look around at advertisements—especially those in women’s fashion magazines—and see that many miss the mark on this. How am I supposed to place an order for a snazzy new winter coat when I can barely read the information about it in the catalog?

But, better yet is his tip about photocopying the catalog page, ad, etc. The classic office staple of the copy machine wipes away all the color and leaves the designer and copywriter with a page of black, gray and white. Copy both pops and is readable, or it’s a haze of gray. Sometimes the simplest tests are the best.

Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief
Simplify the form: Long, complicated forms with many required fields are an invitation to abandon the page. One look at such a form can turn otherwise interested prospects away. Your goal is to capture a lead to make initial contact. Ask for name, company, email address and maybe a phone number. That’s all you need. The rest of the information can be filled in later as you begin to engage with your new lead and learn more about their needs.
Chris Chariton, GlobalSpec
“10 Tips for Improving Landing Pages,” May 23

In other words, customers are more likely to complete simple tasks. A similar tip did make the Top 35 from Daryl Nielsen of HP about a way he had changed HP’s approach to e-newsletter sign-up forms, and we heard the same thing from many other sources throughout the year. This is my favorite tip precisely because we heard it from so many different marketers in so many different contexts. Across the board, marketers who were doing the testing reported to us that asking for less lead to higher conversions, regardless of what the desired conversions were.

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