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Direct & Email Marketing

Write for Response

Follow the Ten Commandments of copywriting to help you create clear, concise and lively content that captures your e-mail readers’ attention.

Gail Goodman

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E-mail marketers use many strategies to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns, but one area often overlooked is what fills the page; that is, the copy you write. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a novice, it’s always important to strengthen your editorial skills and make sure your e-mail marketing communications contain valuable information. Good copy helps your readers understand your offer and how to respond.

The following copy writing tips are well known by the pros. Keeping these “commandments” in front of you when you write will help you create compelling copy that engages your readers, conveys your business message and creates effective calls for action.

1. Know your audience. Who is this e-mail going to? Picture the average person on your list. Give them a name, even. Think about what their day is like. Think about what’s important to them. What are they passionate about? How old are they? What products or services have they purchased from you in the past and why? The more you know about the audience you’re writing for, the more targeted and relevant your copy will be.

2. Determine your value proposition. Know the answers to these questions: Why should your customer buy your product or service?What’s in it for them? Why is your product better than the one down the street? What are your key differentiators?

3. Find a unique selling proposition. The more your offer stands out from the competition, the better your chances of getting a response. Rosser Reeves, author of Reality in Advertising, defines the unique selling proposition as a promotion that offers “something that competitors do not, or will not, offer”. He also says: “The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.”

4. Establish an objective. What’s the purpose of this e-mail? What action are you trying to get the reader to take? You need to be clear on this before you start writing. If the answer isn’t clear to you, it certainly won’t be clear to your reader.

5. Use a compelling subject line. The subject line is what gets your e-mail opened, so don’t write something quickly just before sending. You have to convince your readers that they really need to open your e-mail. The best word you can use to get the reader’s attention is you. The word you says that the message is about them. Other great words for subject lines (and headlines) include new, exciting, exclusive and introducing. Also,try to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less, including spaces.

6. Write a great headline. If the subject line gets your reader to open the e-mail, then the headline gets them to read further. Consider using some of the buzzwords mentioned in commandment 5 in the headline so it will grab readers with an obvious “What’s in it for me?”message. Here’s a question to ask yourself: What if my customers only read the headline? In this case, will they know enough about you and what you offer?

Top Tip: Write five to 10 different subject lines and five to 10 different headlines to see what works best. You may find that it’s easier to write a subject line and headline after you’ve written the body copy.

7. Avoid weasel words. When writing headlines,subheads and body copy, don’t use words that avoid a direct command, aka weasel words. These include may, maybe, hope, wish, try, but, could, perhaps and strive. Instead, use words like will and can to describe what your product or service will or can do for your reader.

8. Don’t use passive voice. Write in the present tense. Passive voice weakens your message, so avoid it. Here are a few examples to help you see the difference:

  • “Our company was chosen to receive an award” vs “Our company received an award.”
  • “We have had 15 new products arrive” vs “Fifteen new products arrived.”
  • “Ten new designs were created”vs “We created 10 new designs.”

9. Include a customer quote. Do you have a great customer quote that you can include in your e-mail? A brief and convincing quote can add credibility to your campaign. The more real you can make the person to your readers, the better. Including their name, what city they live in and even a photo, if it fits your campaign, is a great way to communicate the value of your service.

10. Keep your copy clean and concise. After you write your first round of copy, read it out loud. Also, have someone else read it to see if they understand the message and the call to action. As you edit, cut unnecessary words and consolidate ideas. See if you can get your text down to30% to 50% of what you started with. Also, include bullet points and possibly subtitles to make it easy to read – and, more important, easy to scan – as most readers scan a page before deciding whether or not to read all the details.

Great copywriting is within your reach. Keeping these tips in mind when you write will greatly improve your copy, making it easier for readers to understand and respond to your e-mail campaign. Good, thoughtful writing will ultimately improve your success as an e-mail marketer.

A small business expert and visionary, Gail has revolutionized the way that small businesses and organizations can effectively and affordably communicate with their customers, clients and members.

Direct & Email Marketing

How To Get The Most Value For Your Direct Marketing Money

Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.

Grant Fleming

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It is a common, global problem in the digital age – how do you convert vast amounts of data into demonstrable business value? Marketers aren’t exempt from this conundrum, and the pressure is always on to justify the worth of running a marketing campaign in real world, practical terms.

So how can you glean the most profitability from a campaign? Start by addressing a core challenge: Separating the important data from the not so important.

More particularly, focus on demographic information that is easily accessible like age, gender, location. Then follow up by looking a bit deeper and adding data such as marital status and income. Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify offers this advice to entrepreneurs and marketers.

1. System essentials

Beyond this, while choosing the right data is key, it’s wise to use the best direct marketing system possible for your marketing needs. For starters, it should report on the data that is most important. It should also offer smart dashboards that displays comprehensive information. And it should accommodate users who want to put analytics and insights together manually.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

Having all three in place – pulling together data, running analytics and translating those into presentable reports – is not just a nice to have. It’s increasingly essential, as direct marketing is fast becoming a saturated space. Figuring out ways to better personalise data, and target and curate the right audience for the right message at the right time has become mission critical.

2. Aid from the machines

The good news is that machine learning is set to take much of the onerous work out of personalising data. But the caveat is that its usage doesn’t exempt you from being involved, as machines still need to be taught what constitutes good data to begin with. You thus need to know and understand how to curate data properly from the outset.

For the foreseeable future, you still need to understand what you are feeding the machine learning algorithms with, and most importantly, testing assumptions. Avoid the tendency to assume that because the results came from a machine, they are correct. Rather, conclusions drawn need to be continually tested, verified and honed where appropriate.

3. Pitfalls and challenges

But, while you may have a basis from which to extract more value from your data, what is preventing you? Among key obstacles that many marketing companies do not realise, is the power of the tools that are available to them, especially those locally produced.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

This is to their detriment, as the tools readily available in South Africa boast sophisticated, yet simple, insight dashboards and reporting metrics that could power-up their marketing efforts.

As for a potential opportunity, this too is a topic that is often mentioned in other industries, that of creating greater integration with a variety of tools. In reality, few companies have managed to integrate their digital, social and direct marketing approaches well.

Getting more money out of your data boils down to sorting the wheat from the chaff, having the right system in place, curating data, and finally, using machine learning with an eye towards it being an aid, rather than a replacement for human efforts.

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Direct & Email Marketing

Build A Better Database And Boost Your Audience

Put frankly, if you have not crafted your message so that you are engaging with your audience, with their permission, you will be out of the direct marketing game.

Grant Fleming

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For businesses across the board, one way to get better returns is by improving efficiencies. For marketers in particular, the million rand question is how to build better databases and grow their audience.

Grant Fleming, CEO of Leadify, says that building up an audience around particular marketing messages or strategies rather than pushing out any and all content to anyone, is essential. The latter may have been a trend that TV advertising praised, but it is ineffective as well as wasteful, when applied to direct marketing campaigns.

Marketers also must pay attention to their ‘list hygiene’ i.e. ensure irrelevant messages aren’t being sent to the wrong demographic. Do this by avoiding over-marketing, a factor which may be missed by those operating with a ‘more is better’ mindset. This can derail efforts, as even if people are partially interested in the marketing message, they will reach an unsubscribe point more quickly if marketers press them too often.

Dealing with information deluge

Front of mind for marketers should be that people are being besieged by information more than ever. Additionally, email and SMS channels are especially hotly contested marketing spaces, full of marketing promotions.

Clearly, any marketers who want to increase their opt-ins need to get their message and audience right from the outset, while ensuring that they send carefully crafted campaigns at the right time.

Segmentation needs to become more sophisticated too and is among top marketing trends for 2018. Doing so helps marketers treat their audience differently and adds a level of personalisation to their campaigns.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

The Smart Insights report even suggests greater personalisation will result in an increase in conversions, by keeping marketers relevant and in touch with lists’ changing needs and preferences.

Strategies for success

Analytics can play a significant role here.

More granular detail can be built up over time such as what day of the week, and time of the day messages should be sent to particular segmented audiences for the optimal response.

Spread marketing messages out for a while too, and then hone in on specific days of the week, and times of the day, according to the audience being targeted. It’s considerably more effective to target the right audience at the right time than continuously sending general messages all day.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

The importance of A/B testing to help hone the message to your audience also cannot be underestimated. By testing two or more variants, and listening to the feedback received, marketers have a basis from which to optimise their campaigns.

Further benefits

As for databases, is bigger still better? Yes, but only as a starting point for the data to be further segmented and refined, empowering marketers to more accurately define their audiences.

All this may sound like a great deal of work, but the benefit of doing so isn’t just to build an audience. It will also help marketers deal with the increased pressure from the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to ensure they aren’t spamming their audience.

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Direct & Email Marketing

Honour The Opt-out

Gareth Mountain from Olico, explains how PoPI will effect companies undertaking any form of direct marketing, and why it’s important to honour the consumers’ right to opt out of the marketing process.

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It’s in a companies’ own best interests to toe the line when it comes to direct marketing best practices. It boils down to the fact that ethically it is the right thing to do, and that they should not wait for the implementation (and subsequent fines) of the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) act to kick in to respect the consumer.

1. Electronic comms and outbound calling

The most notable point to understand when it comes to electronic channels of communication (email, SMS, Automatic Voice Messaging), is that companies will need explicit opt-in permission to contact the consumer. Here it is not about having the legal right to market to them as the Electronic Communications Act currently specifies, but rather being able to prove that they specifically gave permission for your communication.

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

This is set to bring about an overall decline in electronic marketing, and securing that valuable opt-in permission is going to be crucial. Yes, some companies will certainly struggle, but by providing relevant, ethical, targeted deals to your consumer database, there’s no reason for them to opt-out, especially if your offers are beneficial.

When it comes to outbound calling, PoPI permits one marketing call to a person, even if they have not opted in. During this call, operators can attempt to get them to opt-in for future marketing (both electronic and voice). While this might protect jobs in the South African call centre industry, it could   result in locals receiving more intrusive calls, while less intrusive email and SMS marketing declines.

2. Respect the No

One thing to keep in mind during all marketing communication, is to respect the public’s requests. If a person asks to be removed from your electronic marketing or direct calls, make 100% sure to comply and ensure their number/email does not slip through the cracks to the next campaigns.

On a national level the Direct Marketing Association of SA (DMASA) has established a National Opt Out Database to adhere to. Paid-up members of the DMASA have access to this database as well as the process involved in making sure that their own database corresponds to the DMASA no contact list. This is through a process called “Deduping” and ensures companies do not accidentally market to anyone on this national do-not-call database. DMASA members also need to adhere to the code of conduct which regulates behaviour in the industry.

3. The responsibility of the company

When it comes to a company-wide level, it is best to automate the opt-out process so that human error is taken out of the equation. Keep a record of the opt-outs and inform the consumer that they have indeed been taken off the database.

Related: POPI Proof Your Direct Marketing

One grey area where we believe companies might try and bend the rules, would be to opt-out the consumer on a product-level, meaning that although they have said no for marketing on one brand or product, the company will continue with marketing other products in the stable. It is unlikely, however, that a consumer will decline receiving marketing for one product, and still want communication for another. Rather take them off the database completely.

The reasons why companies must honour opt-outs are numerous, with the fact that the PoPI Act allows for fines of up to R10 million or jail time for violation perhaps standing out as the most prominent. But with the ethical behaviour of companies under the spotlight locally, the moral responsibility of respecting the consumer should not be ignored.

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