10 Tips to Avoid Direct-Response Disasters
By Bob Hacker
This quarterly column's purpose is clear: to help direct marketers avoid mistakes that can crash program performance and threaten their career trajectory. Following are 10 tips that can help.
1. Keep program objectives simple and focused. Working toward a single objective typically will generate the highest response. If the objective is to generate a lead, for example, concentrate on that singular objective. If it's to get people to register on your Web site, focus on that, and move all subsequent requests and sell-through offers to later communications. If you ask recipients to do too many things, they'll do none of them. When you give them too many options, they get confused and become afraid of making mistakes, so they do nothing.
Rule of thumb: Every time you pile on one more objective, your response rates will fall by 50 percent or more.
2. All copy platforms and offers should support your single, clearly defined objective. In direct marketing, good copy and offer structures essentially are arguments to convince your prospects to do what you want. If your objective is to generate leads, your offer should reward prospects for responding. If it's to get them to register on your Web site, reward them for registering, not for doing something else.
Rule of thumb:There always should be a 100-percent connection between what you want them to do and what you're going to give them when they do it.
3. Sell-through offers can be dangerous. Is "save 20 percent" a good offer? Not always. If you've been selling software for $100, for example, and now you're willing to sell it for $80, offering a 20-percent discount might be worth testing. In the mind of the buyer, saving 20 percent by spending $80 on an impulse sale is a smart, justifiable decision.