Message & Media: The Devil’s in the Details
• Verbs start the story. Strong active verbs draw the reader's eye and interest. Use them to start bullets, sentences, paragraphs and headlines. Examples: Cut hours from your next plumbing job. Whiten your smile in seconds. Double your investment in just 30 days.
• A 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 used to make your direct mail pieces mailable don't depress response. If they're too sticky, they make it difficult—if not impossible—for customers to open your mailings. While this sounds obvious, too often this critical detail isn't noticed until after the mailing has dropped. I know from experience.
• Sincerely yours. People, not companies, write letters. That's true whether they're delivered by traditional or electronic mail. At a minimum, close your message with a person's name. Even better, add a signature. The reader's eye is drawn to the signature because it's different than typical typography and it's a humanizing element.
• Less is more; especially when you have only a nanosecond to capture your reader's interest with a subject line, headline or envelope teaser. Skincare company Murad applied this principle in an email with the subject line, NEW Exclusive Holiday Savings followed by the click-through headline, Give, Receive, Save! These three verbs said it all when coupled with Murad's offers in the preview pane.
• Psssst … add a P.S. Direct response letters should always have one; emails can, too. Thirty percent of those scanning a letter read the P.S. first. Because of the need to scroll, P.S. readership in email may not be as high, but it's still an opportunity to highlight a key benefit.
• Read on! Avoid ending headlines and subheads with a period. To a reader, a period is a stop sign. You want your heads and subheads to create momentum that draws your reader into copy/content.