- BRAND OWNER:
- January - February 2012
This how i see your communications....
Script has created an action for Surfrider Foundation Brasil, called "Return". The action has as purpose to raise awareness and alert people about the consequences of the garbage left on Rio's beaches.
From a mailing list of surf shops and accredited NGOs, 10,000 boxes containing objects thrown on the sand were sent to people's houses.
Besides plastic cups, ice-cream packages, cans and water bottles, each box also contained a label with the following message:
"The garbage thrown on the sea returns someday. For everybody." -- leaving it clear that, even who never threw garbage on the beach, one day, may suffer the consequences of such act.
The action was also performed in bars in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Creative Director: Ricardo Real e Marcello Mendes
Copywriter: Felipe Machado
Art Directors: Thiago Manhães & João Paulo Medeiros
Production Company: TCO Filmes
Executive Production: JP Braga
Director: JP Braga
DP: Nando Azevedo & Fernando Fernandez
Edit: JP Braga
Color Grading: Nando Azevedo
Soundtrack: Buena Musica (Daniel Medeiros, Leo Cruz, Marcelo Frota)
It’s quite difficult to get excited about paint – hence the English expression that describes a boring pastime as “Like watching paint dry”.
Brazilian paint brand Coral (known as Dulux in most parts of the world) wanted to promote its premium decoration line, “Decora” and encourage people to be experimental with the colour of their walls at home. Traditionally, paint brands sell small quantities of paint as colour samplers, so that people can apply small swatches on their walls to compare different potential colour schemes.
However, it is hard to envisage the effect of an entirely new wall colour from a foot-wide square patch of paint. Coral therefore created a range of light bulbs in Coral colours, which when illuminated and pointed towards a white wall would show people what their room would look like if painted in that colour. These were packaged up to look like mini paint tins and distributed and demonstrated in various shops.
The only direct marketing awards show judged solely on creativity. The only direct marketing awards show judged solely by more than 80 top-level creative directors. The only direct marketing awards show to enter if you're only going to enter one.
Entry deadline: Monday, september 28.
Download your entry kit here:
ACTION DEVICES: Techniques or elements used in the message to elicit a response by the target audience. Also referred to as Response Devices.
ACTIVE MEMBERS: Members who are eligible to receive program or brand communication by virtue of having met certain pre-defined eligibility criteria. As opposed to Lapsed or Expired Members.
AUTOMATIC CALL DIRECTOR (ACD): Computer software that receives all incoming calls and directs them to call handlers in a pre-determined manner. If all call handlers are busy, the ACD plays a pre-recorded message to that effect, till a call handler becomes free to take the next call.
AVERAGE ORDER VALUE: A simple mathematical figure arrived at by dividing the total revenue generated from a program or exercise divided by the total number of orders received under the program or exercise.
BELOW THE LINE (BTL) COMMUNICATION: Communication that primarily uses low-profile (low visibility) media such as direct mail, telephones, single-venue events, the Internet or email.
BILL ENCLOSURE: Promotional material enclosed with a bill, an invoice or a statement.
BRC / BRE: Business Reply Card / Envelope: A response format that a customer or prospect can use to write back to the company in response to a mailer, where the company pays the postal department based on the number of responses received. The BRC / BRE is usually enclosed with the mailer to facilitate cost-free response from the target recipient.
BRP: Business Reply Permit: A permit that has to be procured by a company from the postal authority to facilitate use of the BRC / BRE reply format. The postal authority issues a permit to be issued for a specific post office at which the company can receive replies in the form of BRCs or BREs.
BURST: To separate continuous form paper into individual sheets. (High-speed printing systems designed to handle regular-frequency large volume print runs like credit card or telecom bills routinely have a “burster” to separate continuous stationery into individual mailable statements).
C/A: Change of address. A notification put on mail which may have returned to the originator with a revised address of the target recipient, or any communication received from a target recipient to the communicator to notify the same.
CLEANING: Refers to the process of removing, updating or altering contact details like a name or address in a database. This may be the result of data being out of date, or being incorrectly entered in the first instance.
COLLATE: To assemble individual elements of a mailer in a precise sequence for inserting into a mailing envelope.
COMPLETED CALLS: Inbound or outbound calls, where all the required data has been collected from the respondents, or a pre-determined decision point has been reached, and that does not requiring any further calls to the target.
CONTINUOUS STATIONARY: Stationery designed for high-speed computer printing, which can later be burst or trimmed to size and collated for mailing.
COST PER INQUIRY (CPI): A mathematical value derived by dividing the total cost of a mailing or a direct-response advertisement by the number of inquiries received.
COST PER ORDER (CPO): A mathematical value derived by dividing the total cost of a direct marketing campaign by the number of orders received. Focus on orders as opposed to inquiries.
COUPON: Portion of an advertisement or promotional mailer to be completed by the customer and returned to the advertiser.
DATABASE: A structured collection, storage or presentation of specific data. A direct marketing database provides a means to contact a group of prospects as well as a method to measure responses. A database is usually purpose-specific and contains qualifying information about its members, as opposed to a list which is just a compilation of names and addresses without any qualifying or unifying criteria. (See also: Relational Databases, RDBMS).
DATA CAPTURE FORM: A form designed to capture response data in a very specific structure and format, so as to make it easy to standardize data for entry into a database. It is essential to design data capture forms and databases in sync, to optimize the data structure for future enhancements as well as analysis. Specific care also needs to be taken to ensure that capture of crucial fields like
PIN / ZIP codes is done according to tightly controlled rules.
DATA ENTRY STANDARDS: A set of rules to be followed when creating, adding, deleting, arranging, or selecting records in databases, designed to ensure uniformity and consistency across all entries made by different individuals or over time.
DEAD MAIL: Mail sent to an intended recipient that is returned to the sender without any further information on where the same can be redirected in future. This can be due to incorrect / incomplete address, or target recipient having moved, or having changed names and the updated information is not available to the sender.
DE-DUPLICATION: Elimination of duplication in names, to make sure that no matter how many times a name and address appears on a list, it will be mailed to only once. The process involves intensive standardization of data before it can be effectively de-duplicated.
DEFAULT SALUTATION: Names on a database or rented list which are incomplete or incorrect, or do not have proper titles, need to be replaced with a common salutation such as "Dear Sir/Madam", "Dear Colleague", etc.
DIRECT MARKETING: A planned system of contacts seeking to produce a lead or an order. Using any media, direct marketing requires the use of a database for the responses to be measured. Key differentiators of direct marketing from conventional communication are: Communication is one-to-one (as opposed to one-to-many), interactive (allowing for two way communication), responsive (where next communication is a specific response to a previous one) and measurable (number of responses can be precisely computed).
DIRECT RESPONSE ADVERTISING: Mass-media advertising inviting targets to respond to a specific contact point by any means where the number of responses can be measured. Mass media advertising carrying coupons, call-back numbers, post boxes or website names are all examples direct response advertising.
DUMMY: A fictitious or “control” name and address that is deliberately inserted into a list to verify how the list is being used, or to confirm final delivery of the mailer. (See also Seed.)
DUPE: The appearance of identical, repeated information in a database. Dupe is short for "duplicate".
EXPIRED MEMBERS: Former members who are no longer eligible to receive program or brand communication by virtue of having ceased to meet pre-defined eligibility criteria.
FLOATING VARIABLE: "Personalised" information that can be placed anywhere within a laser text, usually within a sentence. Used to make communication content appear highly personalized.
FREQUENCY: The number of times an individual has purchased a company’s product or service over a certain period of time. One of the key measures of customer loyalty, along with “Recency” and “Monetary Value” (the three terms are collectively referred to as RFM).
FRIEND-OF-A-FRIEND: Friend referrals. The process of known target audience members referring or providing names of other unknown friends who might also be interested in a specific advertiser's products or services. Also referred to as Member-Get-Member approach.
FULFILMENT: The complete process of complying with a customer’s response, by way of supplying goods against an order placed, or providing complete and specific information asked for by the respondent.
GIMMICK: Any attention seeking device used in communication.
HOUSE LIST: An in-house or owned mailing list developed by a company over time, based on current or former customers or inquires; usually does not contain additional data on customer / prospect behavior relating to the company’s products or services.
INBOUND TELEMARKETING: Handling an incoming call from a prospect or customer, who calls in to a number publicized through various media.
INCOMPLETE CALLS: Inbound or outbound calls, where the caller is unable to speak to a target respondent, or unable to collect all the required data, and where further calls are required.
INFLUENCER: A person who is involved in – or has a major influence on – the buying decision process, but who does not make the final buying decision.
INKJET: A type of printing process that uses very fine and controlled jets of ink onto paper to produce text and graphics. Inkjet printing is a cheaper alternative to laser printing.
INQUIRY: Someone who has asked for literature or other information about a product or service, but has not necessarily made a buying decision. Also sometimes referred to as a Lead.
INSERT: Element placed in an outgoing mailer package or invoice.
INTEGRATED MARKETING: A combination of two or more forms of marketing used to sell a product or service (eg. a direct mail campaign combined with a series of television commercials).
MAILHOUSE: Company which performs the mechanical and operational details involved with bulk mailing, including addressing, printing, collating, sorting, etc.
LIFETIME VALUE: In direct marketing, this refers to the total amount of money that the customer is expected to spend on a particular product category in his or her lifetime. If this can be ascertained (and it can be, with some effort), the objective of a brand manager would then be to direct as much of that value as possible towards his or her brand.
LIST: (Mailing List) A set of names and addresses of companies or individuals with a common interest, activity or characteristic, but without any additional qualifying or classification data.
LIST MAINTENANCE: Any method which keeps name and address records up-to-date.
LIST RENTAL: An arrangement between a list owner and a mailer, where the owner provides a set of names and addresses, for which the mailer pays one-time “rent”.
LIST SAMPLE: A set of names selected randomly from a list, to evaluate the responsiveness of the entire list. Also referred to as a Test List.
LOYALTY PROGRAM: A program to track and reward customers who continually use a company’s products or services. Rewards are usually linked to the total purchase value.
MASTER FILE: A master repository of all data, from which sub-sets of data can be extracted for specific uses. A master file is usually not used for processes, since any corruption or damage to data can result in loss of valuable data gathered over time and at a high cost.
MATCHING: Ensuring that multiple personalized elements that go into a single mail pack all relate to the same person or member code. Matching usually involves comparing name, address or a unique identification number.
MERGE & PURGE: To merge one data file with another and de-duplicate the resultant file to produce a consolidated file with no duplicated records.
MONETARY VALUE: The total value of one or more transactions carried out by a customer during a specific period of time. One of the key measures of customer loyalty, along with “Recency” and “Frequency” (the three terms are collectively referred to as RFM).
NAME ACQUISITION: The process of soliciting a response in order to obtain names and addresses for developing a mailing list. Direct response advertising in mass media is usually employed to acquire names when no list or database is readily available, or when potential targets are widely dispersed.
NESTING: Placing one enclosure within another before inserting them into a mailing envelope.
NTH NAME: A selection for a list test mailing where names are selected on the basis of the size of the test sample in relation to the size of the list.
OFFER: The terms promoting a particular product or service.
ORDER CARD: Reply card used to initiate an order through the mail.
OUTBOUND TELEMARKETING: Outward calls made by a marketer to list of phone numbers, as opposed to inbound telemarketing where the customer calls in first.
PEEL-OFF LABEL: A self-adhesive label attached to a cardboard backing sheet in a mailing piece. The label can then be removed from the mailing piece and stuck to an order card.
PENETRATION: Relationship of the number of individuals or families on a particular list compared to the total number possible.
PERSONALISATION: Printing of letters and other promotional material with details that are unique to each individual recipient (like names, addresses, transaction details, etc) that are extracted from a computerized database. Personalization has been proven to increase response levels, since such mail is seen as personal communication by the recipient, and not as “junk mail”. PHONE LIST: Mailing List compiled from names listed in telephone directories.
PIGGY-BACK: An offer that hitches a free ride with another offer.
PIN Code: Postal Identification Number Code. Each Post Office is assigned a unique PIN code which – if properly written – will allow the postal department to route mail to the specific post office within whose jurisdiction the intended recipient is located. PIN Codes are usually composed of individual alphabets or numerals for State, District / County, City, Suburb and (for larger suburbs) neighborhood.
POLY-BAG / POLY-WRAP / PLASTIC WRAP: See through plastic bag used instead of an envelope for mailing.
POP-UP: A printed piece containing a paper construction pasted into a paper fold which will "pop- up" when the fold is opened. The "pop-up" forms a three dimensional promotional illustration.
POST BOX / POST BAG: A specific numbered box or bag assigned to a company at the local post office in anticipation of a large number of mail to be received. Companies which undertake large volumes of direct mail activities usually opt for a Post Box or Post Bag into which all responses received are stored, and from which an authorized representative has to go and collect the mail and periodic intervals (Postal authorities usually do not undertake to deliver bulk responses to companies, except as a specially paid for service).
POST CARD: Single sheet self-mailers printed on card stock.
PP: Postage Paid. Refers to an envelope which does not need a stamp because it has a Royal Mail imprint.
PROSPECT: A potential buyer for a product or service who has yet to make a purchase.
PROSPECTING: Sending mail to generate leads for further sales contacts rather than trying to get immediate sales.
PROTECTED MAILING PERIOD: A period of time before and after a mailing date a list owner will not allow the same names to be mailed by anyone - except the assigned mailer.
PSM: Pre-Sorted Mail. Post offices do not usually accept bulk mail for postage unless it is pre-sorted by the postal code of the receiving post offices.
PSYCHOGRAPHICS: Characteristics or qualities used to denote the lifestyles or attitudes of prospects and customers.
PURGE: The process of removing duplicates and other unwanted names and addresses from a list or lists.
RECENCY: The most recent recorded purchase information about a customer on a database. One of the key measures of customer loyalty, along with “Frequency” and “Monetary Value” (the three terms are collectively referred to as RFM).
RECORD: Name, address and other information pertaining to a single entity (equivalent to a row in a table).
RELATIONAL DATABASE: A database that shows the relationship between various pieces of information stored about customers. The information stored can include anything from names and addresses, to a customer’s buying habits. Relational databases make updating or altering records, as well as analyzing information of a particular type a much easier task.
RDBMS: A complex set of logic and rules governing the storage of related information across multiple databases, designed to facilitate ease of storage, ease of access and ease of analysis of large amounts of data across specific parameters, in order to ascertain effectiveness of a direct marketing program. Information across the various databases is usually linked using a key field or relational field
RESPONSE CODES: Unique identifying characters used on response devices to identify the mailing list, specific version of mailing, or other differentiation within the mailing exercise.
RESPONSE RATE: Number of responses received as a percentage of total mailers sent out.
RETURN MAIL: Mail which comes back to the sender undelivered, due to a variety of reasons. Unless the reason for return mail can be identified and rectified, the record is usually tagged on the database to stop further mailings being sent to that individual. (See also Tag.)
RFM: Acronym for Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value. RFM is a formula used to evaluate the overall worth and/or loyalty of a customer to a company. Depending on the company’s objectives and product category, specific values are assigned to each of the parameters to determine the loyalty of a customer.
ROLLOUT: To continue with the actual large-scale mailing after testing a portion of the mailing list.
SEED: A name and address that is deliberately inserted into a list to verify how the list is being used, or to confirm final delivery of the mailer. (See also Dummy.)
SELECTION CRITERIA: Refers to characteristics used to identify segments or sub-groups within a list.
SELF-MAILER: A mailer designed to form an envelope when folded, thus not requiring a separate outer envelope.
SEQUENTIAL PROCESSING: Information storage. Each item must be read one at a time, going through all the preceding records to get to the next record in sequential order.
SHEET-FED FORMS: Using a standard cut form in computer printing as opposed to continuous stationery. Also called Cut-sheet Forms.
SPLIT TEST: Representative samples from the same list, used for package tests, or to test homogeneity of the list.
STEP UP: Special offers designed to get a buyer to increase his units of purchase.
TAG: To mark a record with definitive criteria so it can be used or avoided in the future.
TEASER: An advertisement or promotion planned to excite curiosity about a later advertisement or promotion.
TELEMARKETING: Using telecommunications in sales and marketing efforts.
TELESCRIPT: Telephone conversation script which a telecaller has to follow in order to maintain a specific standard and quality of contact in each call. A comprehensive telescript takes into account all possible scenarios and responses that the target can give, and provides options for the telecaller to take in each scenario. A telescript also needs to have a data capture form designed in sync, so that the telecaller can capture responses easily and accurately at each instance.
TIP-ON: An item glued to a printed piece.
TITLE ADDRESSING: Functional titles used in compiling business lists, where no individual names are available.
TRAFFIC BUILDER: A direct mail piece used mainly as a way to attract customers to the mailer's place of business.
UNIVERSE: Total number of people who might qualify for inclusion in a mailing list; where all of whom fit a single set of eligibility criteria.
UPDATE: To add the most current information to a database.
VARIABLE INFORMATION: Data that relates specifically to each individual in a database.
VERIFICATION: Sending a questionnaire or making a call to a respondent to ensure genuineness or validity of an order placed or information provided
Email Optimization: How Simple Changes Increase Open Rates, Clickthrough, Response, and Average Order Size
Email marketing is likely your most effective tool for improving customer relationships, building brand awareness, and generating sales. It is also the most abused one.
Practitioners of knee-jerk planning rely on emails to bolster a sagging month or fill in the holes left when other marketing techniques miss their mark. Even though it works (which is why it is abused), there is a price to be paid.
Customers become disenchanted when they receive numerous emails promoting one sale after another or one product over and over. Everyone's threshold is different. Some may opt out after a week, others a month, and still others a year or more. (Note: there tends to be a jump in opt outs at the start of the New Year. People want to start fresh, so they do some housekeeping. If you saw a jump in opt outs in January, then you desperately need to review your email strategy.)
The best way to avoid a mass exodus from your subscriber list is to have an email strategy that works with the rest of your marketing.
Because developing a comprehensive plan can take weeks of planning and is beyond the scope of an article, let's start with simple items that have immediate results. In addition to giving a boost to sales, they will help sell the idea of an overall strategy to the naysayers in your organization.
Four steps from sending the email to completing the sale
1. Getting Past the Spaminators
Your email has to make it to the inbox before your recipient can act on it. There are three spaminators blocking the way.
The first is your Internet service provider (ISP). In an effort to protect his clients from alien spammers, the dreaded ISP blocks anything that appears to be spam. He is a "take no prisoners" type of guy. If your email looks like spam, smells like spam, or acts like spam, it is rejected. No questions asked. If you send too many emails that might be spam, then you are terminated. Your emails are permanently blocked.
To avoid this spaminator, avoid all spam triggers. They include specific words and characters in the subject line, low text-to-graphic ratios, and repetition of target words within the body of the email.
Once you have navigated past ISP, then you are faced with the second spaminator, Junk Box Filter (JBF).
Your recipients can control JBF. Unfortunately, all too often, he is in default status and left to his own devices. He errs on the side of caution, sending innocent emails to the dreaded junk file. He can be avoided if your email address is white-listed (flagged as "not junk") by your recipient. If you want that to happen, you have to ask the recipient to add you to her safe list—and you have to provide quality content. Otherwise, the third spaminator will eliminate you.
That third spaminator has complete power and must be handled very carefully. He or she is the recipient of your emails, AKA customer or prospect. Let's call these people MNIs (much-needed individuals). After all, without them, your business doesn't have a chance. They are your toughest spaminators. Your survival depends on your ability to entertain, engage, and enlighten them. If you fail in any of these items, a few clicks by them on the keyboard and you relegated to the dustbin of history.
2. Getting Your Emails Opened
It doesn't matter how eloquent your copy is, how appealing your graphics are, or how wonderful your offer is, if your MNIs don't open the email, you won't have sales.
Statistics show that most emails fail to motivate their recipients to read the message. A recent report from Constant Contact shows an overall open rate for retail companies as 17.9%! Not all email readers provide open information, so the actual number may be higher. Even so, just 17.9%?
Based on the retail emails I receive, I doubt that the number is much higher. The overwhelming majority of the emails are promoting sales. I like a good deal as much as the next person, but continuously promoting sales is lazy marketing. It is time to create emails that your MNIs want to read.
Start by segmenting your email file based on your customers' buying patterns. You may choose to segment by product category, seasonality, original source, a custom selection, or any combination of those. Choose your top pattern and create an email personalized for the people in the group. Test it against your next general email and measure the results. If you have targeted your customers well, there will be an increase in opens, clicks—and most importantly, sales.
While content and relevance are extremely important, other items reduce open rates. Your return address is the first flag. It signals "Open Me Now," "I Can Wait," or "Delete." Use a real email address that customers can click "reply" and send a message to. If you think you are too busy to answer all the emails, don't worry. Before long, you will have plenty of time on your hands. Seriously, what can possibly be more important than communicating with your customers?
The second motivator is the subject line. If you don't capture interest by the third word, you have lost the immediate open. When your open is delayed, your email is often forgotten and later deleted. Invest your time in writing and testing subject lines. The payoff will be increased opens, which lead to increased clicks, which lead to increased sales, which lead to a happier you.
3. Click Here, Click Now. Please. Pretty Please!
Effective emails are a call to action. They motivate the recipients to visit the site, store, or catalog. Since that is the objective, many emails start out screaming "Shop Now!"—which is akin to the guy in the gorilla suit standing on the street corner pointing at a store.
Your MNI's first thought is "Why?"
If you want your MNIs to do something, give them a reason. Explain to them the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Do it well, and they will be compelled to click to see your site.
Start with a short personal note. Your first sentence has a purpose—to get them to read the second sentence. The second sentence moves them on to the third. By the fourth sentence, your reader should be hooked into reading the complete email. If not, you missed the mark this time (it happens). Next time will be better.
After the email is read, there is nothing left to do except click, close, or delete. Use a call-to-action statement to encourage the click. A soft landing to more information generates a higher clickthrough than the harder "Order Now." Test to see which one works best for you. Some businesses find that having both in the same email works well. It gives the recipient a choice between "Yes" or "Yes."
4. Getting From Hmmmm, Maybe... to Gotta Have NOW!
We are almost there. You have passed the Spaminators, jumped the open hurdle, and motivated a click-now response. All you have to do now is close the sale. Your email created an interest that evolved into an action. The next step is to continue the movement to a completed shopping cart.
When your customers click on an email link, there is an expectation waiting to be fulfilled. Be sure that the landing page matches the copy. For example, if it is a "click here for more information" about a specific product link, land on that page. Don't take your customers to your homepage and expect them to navigate to the page they want. They are looking for an express route.
This doesn't mean that you can't upsell them. Create landing pages filled with information about the promoted items, including accessories and add-ons. Once they make their first selection, offer complimentary items. The upselling can continue until the final check out as long as it is a soft sell. American Girl does this well with a blurb that reminds shoppers that they can purchase $XX.XX more and pay the same shipping.
Be creative with your promotions and you will increase your average order. You have a lot of latitude as long as you remember to send your customers to the right landing page.
There is a bonus, too: If your emails are engaging, your customers will look forward to them and even pass them along to their friends. A small investment in time can result in astronomical growth in loyalty, branding, and sales.
Test, Test, Test
The best email strategy isn't created, it evolves. Test something with every mailing. You will continuously improve your email program.
All of the information included in the article has been tested repeatedly for results. One thing that is consistently true: The strategy that works best for one company will perform differently for another. Even if they are in the same industry and selling the same products to many of the same people, the variance appears.
The only way you will know the best strategy for your organization is to test. Let's get started!
Your Quick-Start Guide
With your next email, split your file in half for an A/B test. Send your "A" names the original email. Make the following changes for your "B" names.
If you normally send your emails with a generic from address like email@example.com, replace it with firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the name most customers know (owner, founder, president, etc.)
If there isn't a known name, introduce one. Include a brief note in the introduction about who is writing and why the customer is appreciated. I am not suggesting that you use the personal inbox for this person (although most of my clients do). Creating a separate email for responses is fine. (Note: Don't forget to remove the "Do not reply to this email because no one will read it" blurb.)
Start your email with a brief (3-5 sentences) personal note from the sender that begins with a salutation that includes the customer's name and ends with a signature. Change the keycodes associated with this email. Keep everything else the same.
Compare your open, click through, and response rates for the two emails.
When you are ready to mail again, choose 5,000 customers who have ordered from one of your top product categories. Create a unique email that focuses on the product line. Make it primarily informational. (Think "How to use this item more effectively" instead of "Buy More Now" content.) Include some promotional items to motivate the clickthrough. Use the personal return email and note suggestions from test 1. Mail the rest of your customers the regular promotional email. Compare your open, clickthrough, and response rates for the two emails.
Use the information gathered in the previous two tests to design your own test. You are on your way to an effective email strategy.
The teaser envelope is just what it sounds like. It’s a direct mail envelope covered with teaser copy about the envelope contents. This makes it clear that the contents are advertising something. Often there are photos or illustrations, copy details, even a statement of the offer.
The mystery envelope by contrast, generally gives you no clue about the envelope contents. Sometimes the envelope shows nothing more than the return address and postage or looks like a personal communication.
The idea here is for the mailing to not look like advertising.
“Official” envelopes are a subset of the mystery envelope. They don’t tell you exactly what’s inside, but they raise the curiosity level by making it appear as if the contents are important and urgent.
Here’s an example I received recently:
This official looking envelope uses a simple red bar across the front with the words “OFFICIAL BUSINESS” and the outline of an eagle, giving it a semi-governmental appearance. The words “Immediate Reply Requested” adds a touch of urgency.
Also note how the Washington D.C. address works with the concept. There’s no printed indicia, but rather metered postage, something used for business correspondence.
No teasers. No handwriting. No pictures. No clue about what’s inside. All you know is that this envelope looks important and better be opened. I knew the technique being used and even I felt compelled to open it.
What’s inside? A renewal notice from Advertising Age. Do I feel tricked? No. And that’s the beauty of the official envelope. While it creates the impression of an urgent message, it doesn’t mislead you in any way.
When should you use an official envelope like this? My general rule is that if there is any doubt about whether you should have teasers on the envelope, go with a mystery envelope. If you’re not sure the plain mystery envelope is right, try the official envelope.
The only caveat is to make sure you don’t carry the idea so far that you end up deceiving and therefore annoying your prospects (and violating basic ethical guidelines). You don’t want to create an envelope that masquerades as a notice from the IRS, for example. The envelope I’ve shown you above is a good example of how to do it right.
Here’s one notorious example. A copywriter wrote the following slogan for a cough syrup company:
“Try our cough syrup. You will never get any better.”
You can see what the poor copywriter meant to say, but his slogan can be understood in two ways. It creates major semantic noise and you are left wondering why anyone would buy a product that promises to NOT work.
Here are other examples of semantic noise caused by writers from around the world.
- Sign in Norwegian cocktail lounge: “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.”
- Detour sign in Japan: “Stop. Drive Sideways.”
- Hotel in Vienna: “In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.”
- Elevator in Germany: “Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.”
- Dry cleaner window in Bangkok: “Drop your pants here for best results.”
- And my favorite from a Japanese hotel: “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.”
1. Look for semantic noise in your copy. Just being aware of the possibility of confusion, and that words do not carry set meaning, can help you avoid this sort of copywriting catastrophe.
2. Don’t write in a rush. I always try to build “cooling off” time into every project. I write, set aside the copy for a day or two, then come back to it with fresh eyes. This always helps you see things you didn’t see in the heat of writing.
3. Show your copy to other people. A client, proofreader, friend, anyone. Fresh, objective eyes can quiet semantic noise in a hurry.
The “from” address should make sense.
The subject line should be clear. If your target audience doesn’t understand it instantly, the e-mail gets deleted instantly.
The “to” information should be your recipient.
The offer should be stated very early in the text. People won’t spend any time at all searching for it.
The message should nearly always be short. No one wants to read long e-mails.
The copy should be clear and direct. Just because it’s e-mail doesn’t mean you can get away with sloppy copy. Oh, and it should be in the same language as the recipient!
The links should be worded clearly. Example: If you’re offering a free e-book, the link text should include the words “Free E-Book.”
The e-mail should follow all best practices. This isn’t just to avoid spam complaints. It helps create trust.
When you’re creating or sending an e-mail, always ask yourself, “Does this make sense to the people I’m sending it to?”
The February 2009 Facebook numbers are striking.
Each day during the month, Facebook users averaged over 3 billion minutes on the site. They updated their status 15 million times and became “fans” of a particular company, brand, product or person 3.5 million times daily.
In addition, Compete found that that US residents spent more time on Facebook than any other Website, beating out previous leader Yahoo!. However, Nielsen Online still ranks the site third behind AOL and Yahoo!.
But Facebook’s rapid user growth has not translated into advertising revenues.
The habits of social network users are one obstacle. In 2008, IDC found that 43% of social network users never clicked on ads, a dramatic difference from the 80% of other Internet users who did so at least once a year. Further, 23% of nonusers who clicked on an ad then made a purchase; only 11% of social network users who clicked on ads did the same.
If not through advertising, how can marketers leverage Facebook for their campaigns?
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