Archive for the 'Direct Marketing' Category

Direct mail: what’s a good response rate?

July 29th, 2010 by Bob Bly

Most people, when discussing direct mail response rates, think in
terms of percentages.

For years, 2% was viewed as an “average” response rate.

The problem is that percentages don’t take into account things
like the cost of the mailing or the price of the product being

A much better measure of direct mail response rates is

“Break even” means the sales generated by a mailing is equal to
the cost of the mailing.

For a mailing that generates 150% of break-even, you make $1.50
in sales for every $1 you spend on the mailing, including printing,
list, and postage.

Here is a free online calculator you can use. It calculates the
percentage response rate your mailing must achieve to reach break
even. That way, you know whether your 1% response rate is good,
fair, or terrible in terms of ROI.

The online response calculator is free ? there’s no cost to use
the calculator as often as you like:


Category: Direct Marketing | 29 Comments »

Direct Mail Preferred Over E-Mail?

May 4th, 2010 by Bob Bly

In his column in Target Marketing (5/2010, p. 42), Denny Hatch said that a large percentage of the population — 18 to 34 year olds and 62-plus — prefer direct mail to e-mail.

If you are in these groups, or outside them, which would you rather receive — e-mail marketing, direct mail, both, or neither?

If neither, what’s the best way for marketers to communicate with you?


Category: Direct Marketing | 420 Comments »

Are There Too Many Webinars?

January 19th, 2010 by Bob Bly

An article in BtoB (1/18/10, p. 21) says, “Given the plethora of webinars these days, it isn’t altogether surprising that some companies report a decline in attendee registration.”

I love webinars as an offer, especially in e-mail marketing. But can BtoB magazine be right? Is the market becoming oversaturated with webinars, just as some people say it is already oversaturated with white papers?

And if so, what offers can we use in BtoB lead generation in lieu of webinars and white papers? What other offers are in your bag of tricks for B2B lead gen?


Category: Direct Marketing | 33 Comments »

John Carlton Says Long Copy Works Best — Period.

June 20th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In my 6/14/09 post, I invited a debate on which works best — long copy vs. short copy.

But superstar copywriter John Carlton doesn’t thinks there’s much of a debate to be had.

“If I woke up tomorrow and realized the universe had changed in such a way that a decent sales pitch no longer required persuasion, proof, credibility, offers, and all the other classic ingredients, I’d be the first one writing short copy,” writes John in Early to Rise (6/20/09).

John disputes the Web 2.0 evangelists, who claim that you can create sales with just a smidgen of copy here and there, like dabs of gray ink in the colorful wonder of an over-designed web page.

“I don’t write long copy because I like long copy,” asserts John. “I write long copy because that’s what works.”

His formula for writing effective long copy promotions:

1–Start at the beginning of your sales message.
2–Cover the points your prospect needs to hear to make a decision.
3–Urge him toward the right decision — to buy your product.
4–Close with panache.

“When you can do that in a few terse sentences or in a single, brief, whiz-bang video, let me know,” concludes John. “I’m not holding my breath.”

Do you want to let John know that you AGREE with him — and that, online and offline, long copy is still king, even in this era of online video, Twitter, YouTube, sound bytes, Susan Boyle, and child-like attention spans?

Or can you offer arguments and evidence to prove John wrong by showing that short copy sites, videos, and the like can sometimes clobber long copy?

What say you?

Source: Early to Rise, 6/20/09.


Category: Direct Marketing | 69 Comments »

What Direct Mail Response Rate Do You Need for Your Campaign to Break Even?

June 12th, 2009 by Bob Bly

“Break-even” is the response rate a direct mail must generate to produce sales revenues equal to the cost of the mailing.

But what is that response rate for your mailing? It depends on 5 factors:

* Postage.
* Printing.
* Letter shop charges.
* List rental cost.
* Price of product being sold.
* Cost of goods for product.

You can input these factors here and have my free DM ROI software instantly calculate the response rate you need to achieve break-even:


Category: Direct Marketing | 419 Comments »

Does Humor Work in Selling?

June 6th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Should we use humor in selling?

The reason not to is fairly compelling:

Of all writing, humor is the most subjective.

Therefore, what you think is funny may leave your reader cold.

To prove that humor is subjective, I submit for your approval my 10 favorite comedy films of all time:

1?Dirty Work.
2?Rat Race.
3?Billy Madison.
4?Men in Black.
5?Scary Movie 3.
6?40 Year Old Virgin.
7?Wedding Crashers.
8?Austin Powers.
9?The Naked Gun.
10?Anchor Man.

Now I ask you: How many of these are also on your list? Not many, I bet.

Which of your favorite comedies did I leave off the list?

How many do you actually think are NOT funny? Probably one or two — proving my thesis that humor is indeed subjective.


Category: Direct Marketing | 715 Comments »

Should Direct Mail Design be Ugly?

July 1st, 2008 by Bob Bly

“Ugly works” in direct mail design, writes my colleague Denny Hatch in his latest column in Target Marketing (7/08, p. 50).

His premise: direct mail should be intentionally designed to look ugly and junky, because it will increase response.

The reason (here Denny quotes his former boss Lew Smith): “Neatness rejects involvement. If a thing is too neat, a reader will look at it and say, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ and move on.”

Old school DM experts have preached the “ugly direct mail design is best” rule for decades.

But … I can’t help noticing that most of the winning direct mail promotions that cross my desk today are not ugly. They are cleanly designed and easy to read — not at all “junky.”

So let me ask you, Gentle Reader: which school do you stand with?

Do you, like Denny, deliberately create direct mail packages that look crude, ugly, and cluttered — in the belief that “ugly works”?

Or do you find today’s direct mail prospects respond better to a more professional and sophisticated graphic approach?


Category: Direct Marketing | 580 Comments »

Satisfaction Guaranteed? Not at Harry’s Orchards.

October 17th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I got in the mail today a catalog from Harry’s Orchards, a company that sells premium fruit by mail.

The guarantee on the inside front cover says that the product comes with their “bonded guarantee of your complete satisfaction.”

“Bonded guarantee” sounds impressive but lacks specifics.

So I called, and it turns out that there is almost NO guarantee of satisfaction.

If you order the delicious looking fruit photographed in the catalog, but it turns out to be not so delicious, you’re stuck with it: Harry’s won’t give you your money back.

Would you still buy knowing that their “bonded guarantee” offers no protection against potential dissatisfaction with quality or taste.

(The customer service rep did tell me they’d refund my money if the fruit was rotten, but that wasn’t my concern.)

Or would you, like me, pass Harry’s Orchards by … and get your oranges and grapefruits at the grocery store?


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 521 Comments »