Design and Copy Tips That Get You Noticed

When designing any marketing communication, it’s important to stay on the lookout for tips to help with the design, the list, the offer, and the CTA. However, tips to improve readability can make a big difference, too.

If people can’t read the message easily or if you have inadvertently created stumbling blocks that limit their ability to absorb it, your response could be diminished. Improve the readability of your message and you will improve your response rates, conversions, and sales.

Let’s look at five tips for improving readability.

1. Be specific.

People are drawn to details. Pat Friesen, author of The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook, gives the following examples:

  • “Save money.”
  • “Save hundreds of dollars.”
  • “Save an average of $478.22 per year.”

“’Save money’ is a powerful draw, but ‘save hundreds of dollars’ is more compelling,” she says. “Even better is ‘Save an average of $478.22 per year.’ We see this approach a lot in the auto industry.”

2. Be relevant.

People’s eyes are drawn to messaging that talks about things that matter to them. For example, your audience has children about to graduate from high school. You can add, “Save money to put your child through college.”

“Pair that life stage incentive with the specific detail of saving $478.22 per year and it makes a strong statement,” Friesen explains.

3. Add images.

Even the most specific, relevant copy can fall on deaf ears without an image to accompany it. For example, you might create a banner ad that says, “Download your free retirement guide” that goes totally unnoticed, even if it’s hitting your ideal target audience. Add an image of the cover, however, and suddenly the ad gets noticed.

Images in email newsletters and other digital media can look flat, so try adding drop shadows for dimension and depth.

4. Use numerals when possible.

When discussing numbers in running text, use numerals instead of spelling them out. This makes those details pop. Readers’ eyes will be drawn to numerals right away, even in the middle of a paragraph.

Try it! Which one of these stands out most to you?

  • 10,000
  • 10 thousand
  • Ten thousand
  • $10,000
  • $10,000.000

5. Avoid using all caps.

For the most part, the human eye has difficulty distinguishing between words and letters in all caps. Avoid using all caps except in rare instances.

If you must use all caps, use smart font choices to make the words more readable. “A general rule of thumb is that serif fonts are easier to read in print,” notes Patrick Fultz, president and chief creative officer of DM Creative Group (Woodstock, VT). “But on the Internet, serif can fall apart. The thicks and thins break up. Traditionally, sans serif font reads better online.”

Want more ideas for great design and type that make your message stand out? Give us a call!

Taken from the webinar “Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook (2016 DMDay Virtual Conference Session)” hosted by “Direct Marketing News.”

3 Reasons to Use Direct Mail That You May Not Know

There are lots of reasons to use direct mail, and you may have heard many of them. So here are three statistics on the value of direct mail marketing that you may not have heard.

1. Direct mail has higher value in persuasion.

According to a recent study by Canada Post and True Impact Marketing,[1] direct mail generates a motivation score that is 20% higher than digital media. The study found this score to be even higher when direct mail creative uses print enhancements (for example, special coatings, dimensionality, and print-to-mobile technologies).

2. Direct mail is easier to understand.

A wide variety of studies confirm that information provided in print is easier for people to understand and process than information provided in digital form. In the case of the True Impact study, direct mail was found to require 21% less cognitive effort. That means your message is absorbed more quickly and effectively.

3. Direct mail results in higher brand recall.

Not only is information in direct mail easier to process, but it is more likely to be retained. True Impact found that brand recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to direct mail ads rather than to digital ones.

Need more reasons to love direct mail? Just ask!

 

[1] “A Bias for Action” (Canada Post and True Impact Marketing, July 2015)

5 Ways to Trim the Print Budget without Compromising Results

 

Want to get better results with a smaller investment? Try these simple tricks.

1. Plan smart.Simple mistakes often can be avoided with a little planning. Take time to communicate with us about your budget and deadlines, but also the more interpretive elements of the project so we can discuss any challenges we foresee.

2. Gang your runs. By placing many projects on the same sheet, or piggybacking on an unused portion of a sheet, we can reduce manpower, plates, and prep time.

3. Think “down the line.” Changes become more expensive the further along you are in the print job. Everyone who needs to approve your files should do so before you submit them for printing. Proofread your copy multiple times. Confirm that you’ve prepared your digital files properly, keeping in mind that the resolution of digital files varies greatly.

4. Tweak your paper. Paper can account for 30%–50% of your printing costs, and there are a number of cost-saving measures you can take without adversely affecting your results.

  • Reduce the size and number of pages. By targeting and segmenting your mailings and information packets, you can often save a lot of money over time.
  • Use thinner paper. Changing the weight can save 10%–15% of your paper costs.
  • Make subtle changes to brightness. Generally speaking, the brighter the paper, the higher the cost. But few people will notice a slight change in the brightness of your paper, so this is often somewhere you can tighten the belt.
  • Consider colored papers instead of bleeds. You may be able to create the effect you want less expensively with colored paper instead of ink.
  • Opt for the house paper. Paper prices fluctuate often, but you can save time and money by using papers we purchase in high volume. Ask us for samples.

5. Remember that boring is your friend. When it comes to print production, you want your print job to be uneventful once it hits the pressroom. To make this happen, talk to us early and often!

Need more money-saving ideas? Give us a call!

1:1 Marketing Is Relationship Marketing!

What makes 1:1 printing work? What turns an average marketing campaign into an outstanding success? Is it the graphic design? Is it the mailing list? Is it selecting just the right variables like income, age, or gender? Those things are important, but there is one ingredient that trumps them all. Relationship.

At its core, 1:1 printing is “relationship marketing.” Relationship marketing is an approach that focuses on nurturing long-term customer relationships rather than focusing exclusively on the short-term sale.

What might this look like in your business?

Say you are a local, family-owned hardware store. Normally, a customer walks in, does his shopping, and you make yourself available to answer questions and recommend products. You hope that great service, quality merchandise, and your employees’ wealth of project expertise will hold their loyalty. You might have special promotions or discounted merchandise in a bin at the front of the counter.

But what might this look like if you decide to implement a proactive relationship-marketing program using 1:1 printing?

When a customer walks in, you smile and greet them, but you also ask if they would like to be on your mailing list for your newsletter, “Tips for Shop & Home.” If they say yes, you collect their name, address, and critical information for personalizing content, such as whether they rent or own, whether they have children and their ages, and any specific home needs such as a garden, pool, or workshop.

Once a month, you send out a personalized newsletter addressing each customer by name. You also customize the content, providing weatherizing tips, suggestions for ongoing home maintenance, and relevant offers based on what you know about their property. If they garden, you might offer planting tips and discounts on seeds, berry bushes, or garden mulch. If they have a pool, you might offer maintenance tips and discounts on pool supplies.

Because relationships are about interaction, you may want to create excuses to open dialogs with your customers. This might include an occasional customer survey, feedback form, or customer contest (such as best recipe using home-grown vegetables or best home workshop project). This creates an interaction between you and your customers that makes each person feel valued and gives them a stake in their relationship with you. At the same time, it gives you more information to further personalize future mailings!

 

That’s relationship marketing—and it’s one of the factors that makes 1:1 printing great.

 

 

Love ‘Em for a Lifetime

Which would be more valuable to you? A customer who comes into your store and purchases $150 worth of merchandise then never comes back? Or a customer who comes into your store and buys only $50 worth of merchandise, but then comes back and purchases another $50 worth of product a few weeks later, then another $50 worth a few weeks after that, then keeps purchasing from you over time?

As a marketer, you invest a significant amount of time in your print and multichannel campaigns. It’s important to understand what works. With traditional models of evaluating success, emphasis is placed on immediate results. But is this really the best way?

Take the example above. In the first few weeks after a campaign, Customer #1 seems to be the more valuable one. However, it is Customer #2—the one who keeps coming back—who ultimately spends more money and delivers greater profitability. This is why it is so important to understand Lifetime Customer Value (LCV).

Lifetime Customer Value is defined as the dollar value of a customer relationship over time. It is this model that drives the marketing decisions of many service-based businesses such as auto clubs, gyms and athletic clubs, and subscription-based music. In an LCV model, the value of each customer isn’t determined by a single transaction. It’s determined by the recurring revenue from that customer over time.

Understanding LCV is important not just for evaluating the success of your marketing campaigns, but also in developing the profiles of the types of customers you want to target moving forward. You want to go after the right customers who will deliver the best results.

Let’s look at some of the questions that can be asked by taking a broader view of Customer #1 and Customer #2.

  • Which is ultimately more valuable?
  • When doing new customer acquisition, which customer profile do you want to use—Customer #1 or Customer #2?
  • When evaluating the effectiveness of timing, frequency, and channel mix, which mix is actually more profitable, the one that resulted in Customer #1 or Customer #2?
  • What can be learned from the difference between the two customers?
  • Is there a way to convert Customer #1 into Customer #2?

LCV is a critical element of marketing strategy, and you want to get it right. Talk to us about understanding LCV for your customers.

 

What Are CMOs’ Top Marketing Priorities?

Recently, IBM released a study titled “Redefining Markets: Insights from the C-Suite Study,” which surveyed over 700 CMOs from more than 50 countries. CMO’s number one priority, according to the study? Developing better customer experiences. Nearly two-thirds (63%) cited this as their top priority.

When the researchers looked deeper into what made for a “better customer experience,” they found that this referred to the cumulative impact of the multiple touch points a customer has with a company and the effects that the touches have over time.

This has to be done strategically. IBM also found a huge gap between how companies perceive they are doing with their customers and how they are actually doing. Eighty percent of CEOs believe their companies are delivering exceptional customer experiences, while 78% of customers stated that the average brand doesn’t understand them as individuals at all. That’s a huge disconnect.

Customer experience isn’t a guessing game. You have to be smart and proactive about planning your marketing interactions. This requires understanding and planning across the entire customer journey.

This includes:

  • Understanding the buyer’s motivations.
  • Anticipating the customer’s journey from brand awareness to purchase.
  • Putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.
  • Presenting a consistent, positive brand image.
  • Speaking to people using segmented, targeted, and personalized communications that make them feel valued.

This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but it does require planning. Set up a time to talk to us about creating an integrated multichannel camping that creates a positive customer experience and brings your prospects all the way to a sale.

 

CMO Priorities for the marketing organization

Create better experiences for customers 63%
Increase depth of analytical skills 53%
Improve operations and organizational structures 41%
Enhance social and mobile 38%
Better measures of marketing effectiveness 29%

Source: “Redefining Markets: Insights from the C-Suite Study” (IBM, 2016)

Is Your Direct Mail Trustworthy?

People don’t just buy from companies they like. They buy from companies they trust. When you send out direct mail campaigns, it’s important to keep this in mind. Let’s look at five ways you can establish trust with your customers.

1. Use solid, believable content. Leave the extravagant claims and cheesy superlatives to the late night infomercials. Make your headlines and body copy factual and believable. Back up your claims. Be specific so people know that you are representing the product accurately.

2. Write for your audience. If your marketing copy sounds generic, recipients might not feel that your claims are genuine. It’s hard to trust a company that is willing to sell anything to anybody whether they really need it or not. Target your offers, marketing copy, and calls to action to each target audience specifically so they recognize your claims as true.

3. Credible design. Marketing copy can be superficial and cheesy, and so can design. If you use five different fonts and clutter the design area with tons of images and an impenetrable sea of text, your piece will look unprofessional. If your design looks unprofessional, your company will too. Avoid super tiny fonts because they make it look as if you are trying to hide something.

4.  Use real people. Customer testimonials are great for establishing credibility, but they have to be from real life people. Use names, locations, and pictures of smiling faces when possible. Assure readers that these are actual people, not customers you made up.

5. Proofread your text. Spelling and grammar errors don’t make for a professional image. Have a professional editor or proofreader get a final set of eyes on your copy to ensure that there are no mistakes.

When it comes to direct mail, there are no shortcuts.  Be sincere. Be credible. Present not just a great product, but a company that people can trust.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Marketers are naturally consistent, using the same logo and PMS colors in every piece, limiting the number of fonts to only a few and typing page numbers in the same place on every page. This consistency is important because it gives your work a sense of professionalism and authority while providing an underlying structure to every document.

The concept of repetition goes a step beyond consistency. It is a conscious effort to unify and strengthen your marketing collateral by tying together disparate parts.

Repetition is a powerful way to build brand familiarity and credibility. Studies show that you must repeat your message at least three times before it even registers with your prospect. Ongoing customer touches allow you to build trust, a necessary foundation of any purchasing decision. Repeat your call to action in every communication. Clearly explain to your target audience what you’re asking them to do and how to do it.

Readers gain comfort from having certain elements repeated. Readers more readily recognize specific columns or special sections of a newsletter if they look the same from issue to issue, allowing the reader to find what is of interest quickly. Make your piece more visually interesting by repeating a bold font, thick rule, graphic, special bullet or spatial relationship throughout your multi-page document. 

Deliver your message in one way, and then reinforce it in another. Use repetition not only within a piece, but also between all pieces. Use the same design style on stationery, postcards, brochures, newsletters, packaging, advertisements and your Web site. This helps the person reading your brochure know that you are the same person who sent the postcard last month.

Repetition shouldn’t be boring. Once you have established a few key repetitive components, you can vary those items while maintaining a consistent look. Take a strong element, such as a shape, and present it in a variety of sizes, shades and positions. If there’s something that you want to call special attention to, toss in a surprise element, such as a different color, angle or graphic.

Repetition is a proven way to unify your design, add visual interest and bring clarity to your message. Identify existing repetitions and strengthen them, then create new ones to add a unique dimension to your marketing collateral.

 

 

Are You Designing for Visual Impairment?

When we think about selecting a font for a print marketing piece, we tend to think about the creative aspects of the selection. Does it match the branding? Will it convey the right message (strength, creativity, whimsy) to the target audience? But there are some practical issues that need to be considered as well. These relate to readability.

Not everyone in your target audience has the same level of vision. Older members might be facing issues like cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. Even younger consumers may have untreated amblyopia or eye teaming. These visual issues make reading challenging. If your audience has trouble just reading the words, the larger marketing message will get lost.

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, when choosing a font, here are some specific things to consider for target audiences (or portions of those audiences) who might be facing vision issues:

Font type: Use easily recognizable characters in fonts such as standard Roman or Arial. Avoid decorative fonts.

Font size: Increase the font size to make it easier to read. This is especially important for in-store displays, signage, and other materials that may be read from a distance.

Serif vs. sans serif: For maximum readability, use a sans serif typeface.

Bold it. When possible, use bold type because the thickness of the letters makes the print more legible.

Contrast: Choose colors and type styles that contrast from background. The more contrast, the easier the font is to read. You may want to avoid using italics or all capital letters. Both make it more difficult to differentiate letters.

If you are going to a general audience, it might be worth segmenting out specific age groups or other demographics and including font selection and sizing as part of the customization.

Need help choosing the right font for your audience or segmenting your projects to get the right match between the two? Let us help.

 

3 Tips for Adding Video

Whether you are adding video to email, to print-to-mobile efforts via QR Code or augmented reality, or to direct mail using An embedded video screen, video has become one of the hottest ways to communicate with your audience.

According to data collected by HubSpot:

  • 51.9% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
  • Shoppers who view video are 1.8 times more likely to make a purchase than people who did not view video.
  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.

Here are three tips for adding video to your next campaign:

1. Tell a story. People relate to stories more than facts and figures. They also tend to remember stories longer. This is why Liberty Mutual uses the storyline “You loved [your car] Brad—and then you totaled him” to talk about the company’s better car replacement and why the Allstate “Mayhem” commercials have millions of views on YouTube. Find a way to use video to tell your story.

2. Keep it short. People love and relate to video, but they also have short attention spans. Experts say to keep your video between 1-2 minutes at most.

3. Use social media. Use social media to promote your video and multiply its reach. Target Marketing recently suggested tweeting out your finished video, posting a production shot of the video on Instagram, and posting teaser clips on your Facebook page.

Need help? Talk to us about incorporating video into your next multichannel campaign!