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5 Tips for Powerful Headlines


Whether it’s direct mail or signage, email or print advertising, a great headline stops your audience in its tracks. Paired with relevant images, a great headline grabs people and makes them say, “I need to pay attention to this!” Especially if it’s targeted or personalized in some way.

Here are five insider tricks to increasing the stopping power of your headlines.

1. Tap into breaking news.

Tying your products and services to current events increases the relevance to your audience and the urgency for them to act. Financial services take advantage of uncertainty in the stock market. Retailers of snow blowers and electric generators tap into predictions of early winter storms. What current events can you tie into?

2. Advocate for your audience.

Everyone wants an advocate—someone who will look out for them. The message is: We care. This is a technique used to great effectiveness by accident lawyers. “Hurt in an accident? We can help!”

3. Startle the reader.

When we think of shock value in marketing, we often think of nonprofit solicitations for hungry children and abused pets, but it works for other verticals, too. Along one major highway is a billboard with a smiling senior woman and the headline: “I didn’t want my chest cracked open!” The billboard is for less invasive heart surgery at a local hospital.

Shocking headlines should not be used simply for the sake of shock alone, but for the right campaigns, they can tap into deep emotions and move your audience from complacency to action.

4. Name drop.

This technique takes advantage of people’s inherent interest in celebrities and inside gossip. You may not know the celebrity personally, but you can use a line from a movie, a TV talk show, or even a magazine article. For the financial market, it might be a quote from Warren Buffet. From the sports world, it might be LeBron James. In your market vertical, it might be a well-known industry leader.

5. Commiserate with their frustration.

Share the reader’s frustration. “Don’t you hate it when . . .?” Then solve their problem. Sharing in their frustration creates identification. Showing that you can solve their problem moves them to action.

Direct Mail and Social Media Pair for Profitability


Direct mail and social media: the perfect pairing for profitability? Absolutely! Increasingly, we are seeing these two channels complementing one another in the multichannel mix. What makes them work so well together?

Consumers love social media, and the more engaged consumers are with your brand’s social media efforts, the better. Higher levels of customer engagement—regardless of channel—lead to strong customer loyalty and higher long-term sales. Social media is great for that. But print offers benefits that social media doesn’t. Studies show that print’s tangibility leaves a deeper footprint in consumers’ brains and results in higher levels of (and more accurate) recall. When direct mail and social media are used together? Marketing dynamite!

While you might not think of direct mail and social media as being complementary, data show that they are. A recent infographic from SteamFeed, for example, shows that high percentages of social media users use direct mail coupons (25%), hold on to direct mail pieces for future use (19%), visit a store after receiving direct mail (15%), and pass their direct mail pieces on to others (10%). When brand advocates receive direct mail, they are also 50% more likely to create or share content online.

How can you capitalize on this?

1. Set up social media sites appropriate to your target audience (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) and encourage customers to engage with you there. Direct sales don’t work on social media, but brand building and engagement strategies do.

2. Develop content that keeps these customers coming back and that will make them want to get their friends and family involved, too.

3. Find the most active social media participants and gather not just their email addresses but also their postal addresses for future cross-channel marketing.

4. Use social media to promote upcoming direct mail coupons and offers. Direct mail marketer Our Neighborhood Shopper, for example, encourages local families to engage with them on social media so it can alert them when their Shoppers will hit their mailboxes. This allows the Shopper to build anticipation and excitement around the promotions and deals offered by its advertisers.

5. Cross-pollinate your social media content in your direct mail. Use quotes from reviews or posts in your direct mailers to give credibility (aka “social proof”). Use direct mail to promote social media contests or solicit stories or suggestions that will be published in future mailings, on your website or in your emails.

Direct Mail Checklist


In today’s world of complex creative and nonstop marketing assault, it’s easy to forget the basics. Before designing that visually extravagant mailer, take a step back and make sure you’ve covered the fundamentals.

1. List. Who are you sending the mailer to? Is the list current? Are you mailing to the right people? Are the names up to date? Are there duplicates (or even triplicates) that need to be culled?

2. Basic segmentation. Even if you are not using full personalization, your mailing should still have basic segmentation that allows you to speak relevantly to your core target audiences. If you’re selling homeowners or auto insurance, for example, you’ll speak differently to families with children than you will to retirees.

3. Cross-reference. Especially if you will be personalizing, it’s a good idea to cross-reference your data. You can assume that customers purchasing infant formula have young children, but maybe they are grandparents picking up necessities for their grandchildren, too. If those customers subscribe to New Baby magazine, however, you can have confidence that they have young children at home.

4. Call to action. Too many mailings suffer from not having a call to action. CTAs are critical to motivating behavior, and without one, even the most otherwise well-designed campaign can fail.  Make the CTA visible. Make it bold. Put it in a starburst or use brightly colored lettering. Readers can’t respond to a CTA they don’t see.


5. Response mechanisms. Give people more than one way to respond. Consumers’ lives are cluttered and over-scheduled. The more ways you can give them to respond, the more likely they are to do so.  If you are using personalized URLs, include a personalized QR Code in case they want to respond on a mobile device. Give people a general URL, a tear-out card, and a phone number. Pre-fill tear-out cards with as much information as you can. Remove as many barriers to a response as possible.

6. Bullets and white space. Busy consumers don't have time to read. When designing for direct mail, think “infographic.” Use bullet points, numbered lists, and graphic elements—anything that makes the information easy to absorb with a quick visual scan.

7. Include a P.S. Did you know that the P.S. is the most read part of a letter? Use this area to reiterate your key points and CTA. If people don’t read anything else, they’ll read that.  Studies also show that including a deadline for the CTA is a great motivator. This is a great place to reiterate it.

5 Tips for Outstanding Direct Mail Design


With any direct mail piece, the goal is to entice people to respond to your offer. But with great direct mail pieces, you can hook them before they even get to the offer. Engage people’s curiosity from the moment the mail piece gets into their hands. Here are seven tips for capturing readers at the outset:

1. Use the upper right-hand corner.

This is a tip lifted from the playbook of highly effective catalogers. The upper right-hand corner is where our eyes go first. Then our eyes proceed along the top of the page, then continue down to the rest. Use the upper right-hand corner to place teaser copy or compelling data such as “99% customer satisfaction rate!”

2. Keep it clean.

When the layout is cluttered, it’s hard for people to focus on any one thing. Use white space to draw the eye and make information easy to absorb. Instead of heavy blocks of text, consider using bulleted or numbered lists.

3. Tap into brain science.

Techniques such as the Zeigarnik Effect, Von Restorff Effect, and Noble Edge Effect use brain science to capture attention and engage your audience.

  • The Zeigarnik Effect is when information is left unfinished. Leave people hanging and they feel compelled to open the envelope, turn over the postcard, or click through a link to find out the rest.

  • The Van Restorff Effect is the use of content that is out of place to capture attention.  Old Spice used this to great effect with its “Smell Like a Man” commercials.

  • The Noble Edge Effect taps people’s desire to be associated with positive social or environmental causes.

4. Use testimonials.

People trust other shoppers more than marketers, so use customer testimonials to let other buyers promote your product. Use QR Codes or AR to bring those endorsements to life by taking shoppers direct to mobile video.

5. Create a compelling call to action (CTA).

How many direct mail pieces have unfulfilled potential because someone forgot to include a call to action? Don’t assume readers will automatically know what you want them to do. Add urgency or additional value by giving a deadline, providing an extra discount for early response, or providing some other motivator to encourage people to respond right away.

10 Tips For Writing A Successful Email Marketing Campaign


1. Create a multi-channel campaign by coordinating email with other marketing efforts. Match a personalized e-mail campaign with a personalized direct mail campaign, mentioning the same offer in both. Using cross-media marketing has consistently proven to increase response rates.

2. Keep your customer database clean and updated.  Keep track of how customers responded to your last campaign and remove those who do not wish to be contacted in the future.  Keeping an updated list allows you to focus your efforts on customers with the greatest likelihood of conversion.

3. Personalize your emails to ensure greater response. Research shows that more than two-thirds of direct mail recipients prefer personalized messages. One study found that adding the recipient's name to a document increased response rates by 44 percent.

4. Make it easy for your customers to respond. Lay out a clear path for customers to follow using well placed links and clear, direct instructions.  Provide a variety of ways for your customers to respond or contact you. Email is a very popular tool but some customers still prefer to place an order by phone, or by mail.

5. Use consistent branding in your emails so customers recognize and trust your messages. Reinforce your brand and style by using images and aesthetics from your website or other advertising or marketing efforts.

6. Measure your results. Email marketing offers the unique opportunity to see exactly who is opening your emails and which links they click-through. There is an enormous amount of data that can be collected, but only by measuring those results can you quantify the response.

7. Encourage your customers to Opt-in. There are many simple ways to increase deliverability that marketers often don’t take advantage of. Make it easy for recipients to add you to their address book or Whitelist to help ensure guaranteed delivery. Provide links that allow customers to add themselves to your mailing list or signup to receive updates.

8. Test. This tip is simple – Test everything. Use the cost-effective power of email to test every aspect of your campaign.  Experiment with the placement of your links. Test different wording to avoid SPAM filters. Try different ratios of your media mix. You can send multiple email campaigns for the price of one direct mail campaign, an opportunity you can’t afford to ignore.

9. Include a call to action and create a sense of urgency. By using deadlines and limited time offers you can encourage your recipients to act right away. Be sure to place your call to action at the top so it will display in the preview pane and also at the bottom to give them a second chance to act.

10. Don’t overwhelm your customers by inundating their inboxes with daily emails. Take advantage of the precision timing that emailing offers by sending relevant emails at relevant times. If your emails are flooding a recipient’s inbox, they are more likely to ignore them or even unsubscribe.

Mindful Social Media

1. Know Your Intentions

Before you post, ask yourself: Am I looking to be seen or validated? Is there something more constructive I could do to meet that need?

2. Be Your Authentic Self

Talk about the things that really matter to you.

3. Ask Questions

If you propose a tweet, always ask yourself: is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

4. Offer Random Tweets of Kindness

By reaching out to help a stranger, you create the possibility of connecting personally with followers you may have otherwise known only peripherally.

5. Experience Now, Share Later

It minimizes intimacy, since your entire audience joins your date or gathering in real time.

6. Be Active, Not Reactive

Choose when to join the conversation, and to use your offline time to decide what value you have to offer.

7. Respond With Your Full Attention

We may not be able to reply to everyone, but responding thoughtfully when we can makes a difference.

8. Use Mobile Social Media Sparingly

If you choose to limit your cell phone access, you may miss out online, but you won’t miss what’s in front of you.

9. Practice Letting Go

It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves.

10. Enjoy Social Media!

Follow your own instincts and have fun with it.

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