18 Ways to Get a Bigger Response

Running a successful promotion is all about maximizing the response.

John Caples, an advertising legend, whose direct mail ads were hugely successful, always worked to increase his response rates. He revealed some of his best secrets in his classic book, Tested Advertising Methods.

There was no internet in Caples' time, but that doesn't mean his advice isn't relative today. In fact, his time-tested methods are becoming more and more crucial as more competitors fight for your prospects' time and money.

It doesn't matter what you're promoting, or how you're promoting it (direct mail, email, social media), or who you're promoting it to. Mastering these principles will give you the best chance at yielding great results.

  1. Mention the offer in the headline or subject line. People are more likely to read your sales copy if they're told right at the beginning what's in it for them. That's why the headline "Learn How to Get Your Free Report on Surefire Weight Loss Methods" will get a bigger response than "Surefire Weight Loss Methods."
  2. Emphasize the word "Free." If you're offering something at no cost--like a bonus item included with purchase--make the most of that appealing fact. "Free" is one of the most powerful words in any ad.
  3. Mention the offer in a subhead. One effective way to arrange the top of your sales piece or webpage is to have a strong headline followed by a subhead that presents the offer. This breaks the offer down into easily digestible bites, which better assures readers will get the message. For example:

    Learn Surefire Weight Loss Methods
    Get Your FREE Book by Responding in 72 Hours!
  4. Show a picture of the booklet or sample. The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words," never gets old. Many people are more excited about visuals than about words. Don't just tell people what you're going to give them, show it to them. 
  5. Mention the offer in the first paragraph. Don't wait until the end of the piece to describe what you're giving away. Readers may not get that far if they're not motivated to keep going. Describe attractive parts of the offer from the outset to keep people reading. Online, place the information "above the fold" where it can be seen without scrolling.
  6. Include an attractive description of the offer. You need to tell the prospect exactly why they NEED your product. Don't expect them to fill in the blanks. List the good points of your giveaway product. For example, if it's a free booklet, have a bulleted list (e.g., 5 easy steps, illustrated, complete instructions). A table of contents offers a quick summary of everything the book contains.
  7. Include testimonials. Testimonials from experts, admired celebrities, or people just like your readers who benefited from the product make your bonus seem more "legitimate" and worthwhile. Especially today, when people use social networking to talk about their experiences with every product they use, we've come to rely on others' opinions. Testimonials are a powerful way to influence people.
  8. Sweeten your offer. The more items you add to your offer, the more tempting it is. For example, you can add a second bonus booklet, a free sample, or a free consultation (a great opportunity to sell more). Pile on the benefits, and people will respond.
  9. Include a coupon. A coupon is a visual call to action. Even if people call or go online rather than mailing in their order--and even if the coupon is only a graphic on a web page--just seeing the coupon can get them moving. Also, the discount the coupon offers is a benefit that reduces the risk of making a purchase.
  10. Repeat pertinent information more than once. Your address, phone number, email, and other contact information need to be easy to find. Don't expect that your prospect will go hunting for it. You want to repeat that information in your sales piece, especially in direct mail. You also want to repeat you call to action several times (depending on the length of the piece). Don't expect prospects to remember what they need to do. Help them along. The easier the buying process is, the more likely they are to complete it.
  11. Include a telephone number--Especially a toll-free number.Provide an easy way for people to reach you that won't cost them anything.In a world of URLs and email, 800 phone numbers are often a forgotten "response device." But everyone on a computer also has a telephone. Even though most people have phone plans that don't charge anything extra for long-distance calls, they still respond favorably to toll-free numbers.
  12. Emphasize "No Obligation." People don't want to take a risk, so keep assuring them there's no obligation and nothing to lose. State your guarantee, and keep repeating that they are taking no risks by ordering from you, subscribing to your website, etc. The words "Money-Back Guarantee" are very powerful.
  13. Urge immediate action. If people don't act right away, they may never respond at all, so give them a reason to act immediately. Put a time limit on the offer, say supplies are limited, etc. Creating a sense of urgency will encourage people to act immediately, instead of "later..." And we all know later may never come!
  14. Test several different offers. Never assume you know what your target audience wants. Test several different bonuses, samples, or booklet titles. Test different ways for people to get back to you (phone call, ordering online, etc.). See what gives you the biggest response. Make sure you're tracking what you're testing. It's easiest to test one element at a time so you can accurately gauge how it affects response rate. Testing multiple elements at one can lead to mixed results and uncertainty about what really worked and what didn't.
  15. Use the most effective media. Your product and your target audience will determine which medium works best. Should you promote online? Through direct mail? Through broadcast media? Only testing will tell you where you get the most bang for your buck.
  16. Use long copy. Research shows that the more information you give people about a product, the greater the response. So whatever size ad you use, fill it with copy. Give plenty of facts and benefits that make it easy for them to make the decision you want.
  17. Study the offerings of your competitors. See what your competitors are doing, especially if you're just starting out. How long is their copy? What kind of offer are they making? If they're successful, you can get some ideas from them to give yourself a leg up. For example, if they're sending out a 12-page magalog, consider using the same format for your direct mail ad. If they have a video message on their website, try producing one yourself.Don't just imitate them, though. Outdo them! Come up with new wording or a better angle. Explain how much superior your product than theirs. Let your competitors inspire you to be better.
  18. Keep records of your results. Measure your response rates to see what elevates and lowers them. Test wording, offers, bonuses, and every other aspect of your promotions. That will tell you what to do to get better results on your next campaign.

Use all this information to create more effective sales materials that yield a greater response. These methods can be used in an endless variety of applications.


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