An Intercepted Letter to ... Google
I have the feeling you didn't see it. Or ignored it.
Either way, I'm writing because I'm still concerned about the mailings you've been sending me. I'm worried they are sullying your reputation as being smart and savvy.
There's no doubt when it comes to doing online research, you're fast, accurate and very professional. But the direct mail you've been sending me the last year misses the mark. It's embarrassingly unprofessional and appears you don't know what you're doing. I'm guessing it's also ineffective.
Google, if you're going to do direct mail, you need to understand what makes it tick. Here are a few pointers in addition to those posted earlier.
Your logo sets an immediate expectation ... especially when it's on an outer envelope. Because you're known for quality, speed, and ease of use, these expectations carry over to your mailings. However, the direct mail pieces I've received from you ignore direct mail best practices for using hot spots, engaging readership and making it easy for me to respond.
Letters are important because in direct mail they replace the salesperson. That's why letters need to be full of benefits and easy to read. The gray type you've using in the body of your letters looks like a bad print job. Even with good lighting, it's hard to read. 0 readers = 0 responses.
I love the peel-off Post-It at the top of your letter with your offer "Smart Codes." It's an involvement and retention device that should help your reader transfer ink-on-paper offer codes to a landing page. The problem is the alpha-numeric codes are 16-20 characters long in teeny-tiny mouse type. Seriously, the type must be ½-pt. or less. Guess what this does to response when your reader is required to enter these online? I repeat, 0 readers = 0 responses.
You get an "A" for effort for having an offer in each of your mailings. But they're often buried. Or so complex, they're difficult to understand. I know you're a very quick study at drawing conclusions, but the rest of us are not. My advice is to K.I.S.S., Google!
For example: "$100 FREE AdWords + 30 Days FREE Google Tags" surrounded by tons of explanatory copy. And this offer could be summed up by a simple "What's in it for me?" benefit statement: "30-Day Free Trial ($100 value)" OR "Build Your Business on Us — Free for 30 Days!"
Skimmers vs. readers. Few people read every word you and I write. They skim them. When a mailing is strategically written and designed, you entice more skimmers to become readers that then become responders. That's why you need to understand best practices such as hot spots, the 3:33 Rule, and how to apply them appropriately in direct mail. (BTW, direct mail design guru Patrick Fultz and I are hosting a session on creating direct mail March 15 during Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk. It's a FREE event sponsored by DirectMarketingIQ and Target Marketing. If you're interested in attending, you can register here.)
Last point. The general appearance of your mailing makes me nervous. The letters are dense with small type, long lines and narrow margins. The fine print and disclaimers on the back of the letters are scary ("You will be asked to provide a credit card number to sign up for the free Google Apps trial.") The brochures are boring and don't make use of good eye flow. The overall effect is that your free offers are complicated and require a lot of time-consuming explanation. This isn't what I expect from my friend Google who normally anticipates my every need and solves my problem in seconds.
Google, I sincerely want you to be successful in all you do — online and off. If you'd like more tips, feel free to check out my Message & Media column for Target Marketing magazine. I especially think this particular column will give you some valuable takeaways.
Your faithful and grateful fan,
P.S. I noticed you've started adding a P.S. to your letters. Good for you! The P.S. is a valuable hot spot — 30 percent of direct mail skimmers look at the P.S. first.
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Pat Friesen is a direct response writer/creative strategist who writes for direct mail, email, blogs, catalogs, the Web and other direct response media. She's also a sought-after copy coach, workshop presenter and columnist for Target Marketing magazine. Contact Pat at 913.341.1211 and firstname.lastname@example.org