19 Ways to Punch Up Your Creative
Experienced writers and designers who do email and direct mail marketing know this for a fact: The littlest things can add up to make the biggest difference in response and sales. How much attention are you paying to details like these?
1. Perfect your preheaders. Use the area at the very top of your email as a teaser for your email's content and to increase mobile opens. (Not familiar with preheaders? Watch this webinar.)
2. Play with postage. Yep! You don't have to settle for a standard (boring) indicia. While the post office does have its rules, look into just how creative you can get in creating your own indicia.
3. Factor in your ‘from’ line. From lines work with subject lines to get emails opened and read. Test using a person's name versus your company or brand name.
4. Your order, please. Think of direct mail order forms and website shopping carts as more than ho-hum housekeeping details. Make them easy to understand, complete and return. Pay attention to details like providing enough space for fill-ins, making instructions easy to read, and streamlining purchasing and payment options.
5. Long live your deadline. Don't bury it. Mention it more than once in highly visible hot spots. Feature it in a violator.
6. Excuse the interruption. Violators (aka snipes) are design elements that interrupt space to draw attention. While starbursts are an easy out, they also can be a cop-out. Create your own violators that either fit the overall design of your project ... or don't. Remember, a violator's job is to stand out and draw the eye like this one from See's Candies 2015 Christmas catalog.
7. Build better borders. Borders are a tool designers use to define spaces and call attention to offers, products and other important information. Don't rely on standard "vanilla" borders when designing your own can be more effective. Create borders that draw the eye, manage eyeflow, and enhance your overall design.
8. Start with strong verbs. Use active verbs to start bullets, subject lines, sentences and headlines. Examples:
- Double your investment in 30 days.
- Whiten you smile in seconds.
- Grab this discount before it disappears.
9. Bullet proof. There's no law that says a bullet has to be a predictable dot, square or circle. Draw attention to yours using a logo element, unique dingbat, bold color or unexpected shape.
10. Sincerely yours. People, not companies, write letters. Close your personal messages with a person's name and signature. The reader's eye is drawn to the signature because it's personal and looks different than typical typography.
11. Land here. Landing pages play a key role in the clickthrough process; don't take yours for granted. Make fill-in boxes stand out by putting a light background behind them. Reduce user frustration by using standard conventions like a red asterisk to highlight mandatory fill-ins. Draw the eye to your call to action by putting the text in a bright (even obnoxious) colored button.
12. Psssst. Add a P.S. Direct mail letters should (almost) always have a P.S. (Emails can, too.) Here's why. Over 30 percent of those scanning a letter will read the P.S. first.
13. Short 'n' sweet. Make paragraphs inviting to scanners by keeping them no more than five to six lines deep. This is best addressed by having a designer and writer work together from the start and, certainly, once copy is in place.
14. Words as eye magnets. Draw attention to important copy in an email or direct mail piece using highlighting, underlining, circles or notes that look like they are handwritten.
15. Read on! Avoid using a period at the end of headlines and subheads. A period is a stop sign. In marketing and sales copy you want headlines and subheads to create momentum to draw your reader into your message.
16. On the same page. While page numbers are important, they're often treated as just another housekeeping detail. Rather than just plopping a number in the bottom right or left corner of a catalog or magalog page, how about placing it in an easily identified circle or square or hanging it down one-third of the page in the outside margin.
17. Personally yours. Personalized marketing messages don't necessarily have to include a person's name. In fact, some of the most effective uses or personalization are nameless. Make messages personally relevant by appropriately using customer data to address customer's interests, wants and needs (like Amazon does.)
18. Super sticky subject. Postal regulations and inline formats have increased the use of stickiness in the mail. Make sure the wafer seals, fugitive glue and other adhesives that make your mail pieces mailable don't make them impossible to be opened. While it sounds obvious, too often this critical detail isn't noticed until after a mailing has dropped (and response has tanked.)
19. If vs. when. Given the choice to start a sentence with if or when, opt for when. Why? When implies immediacy and action. If is provisional. For example: If you call us, you receive vs. When you call us, you receive.
Yep. It's easy to get excited about breakthrough "Big Ideas." But it always pays to pay attention to the small things that can add up to greater success (and response.). As they say, "The devil's in the details."
Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.