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National Mail Order Association (NMOA)
Direct Marketing
and Mail Order

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
March 2002
Issue #11: e-Mail Update/DM Rules


• 1.e-Mail Update
• 2.7 Rules for Direct Marketers
• 3.New Revised 101 Ways

Dear Friends,

I’ve just returned from a three-week consulting job in Australia, and I want to get back to sending out my newsletter – in a somewhat more abbreviated form.

Current newsletter wisdom is to send people short excerpts of articles, and then allow them to click to get more information. This is an excellent technique, but unfortunately beyond our technical expertise.

However, I will be sending out shorter newsletters – and offering you the option of e-mailing me for what Paul Harvey calls "the rest of the story…"

All the best,


e-Mail Update

As the Vice President of the New England Direct Marketing Association, I get to hear some terrific speakers. Our recent meeting featured Reggie Brady of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions and Shar Van Boskirk, Associate Analyst at Forrester Research.

Both spoke about the latest trends and developments in e-Mail marketing, and I have summarized some of their ideas for you.

1. Dynamic Personalization

Barnes & markets events, such as book signings, authors lectures, by personalizing their e-mails automatically.

According to the zip code in which you live, you receive announcements of special events in your area. They never tell you they’re doing this – it just looks like it’s coming from your local area store.

2. e-mail and DM

You can use e-mail and direct mail in a variety of innovative ways. (1) To announce a mailing. The message here is "Look for this in your mail." This helps cut through the clutter. Key technique: use HTML that includes a photograph of the envelope you are mailing – it will help them recognize it more easily. (2) To remind them that you mailed them, a week later.

Key technique: put in an additional or extra special offer in the e-mail.

3. e-mail appending services

e-mail lists are hard to find, however there are some companies that will take your direct mail or customer list and append e-mails when available for about 50 cents to $1.00 a name. Plus you pay only for those names that they can match.

Key technique: Once you’ve done this successfully, try the un-matched names with a completely different company, since they probably have access to different e-mail lists.

4. e-mail for Retention

As the glut of e-mail continues, it’s becoming harder and harder to use e-mail for acquiring new customers. However, e-mail can be an excellent tool for retaining and growing the ones you already have.

According to Jupiter Research, three times as much money was spent on Customer Retention over Customer Acquisition. And that trend will continue to grow.

5. Time-sensitive offers

Offers have always been an effective technique in e-mail. (In fact, in my newly revised 101 Ways to Improve Response, I refer to e-mail as "an electronic offer delivery system.") And time-sensitive offers encourage people to respond immediately and not postpone their decision.

What kinds of offers work best? Jupiter Research evaluated different offers, and asked people which ones would make them respond. Here are the three top offers:

Free shipping & handling – 83%
Dollar discounts – 53%
Percentage discounts – 33%

6. Viral marketing

Some experts recommend you add a viral component to every e-mail you send.

Research done by Jupiter Research shows that nearly 70% of all respondents are willing to pass along information to colleagues. And the average forwarding rate of an individual e-mail is from 4-7%.

Key technique: Include a visual or graphic next to the words, "Please forward to a colleague." You can show a picture of an arrow or an envelope that looks like it’s moving.

7. Rich Media

More people are able to access rich media every month – and it can be a very effective way to present information.

However, you don’t have to use it all the time. Keep it for special events and announcements, and times when you need to add a visual element to your e-mail.

Key technique: Don’t design it so that it starts playing automatically. Let the customer or prospect start it themselves. This gets them involved, and also lets them decide when they want to view it.

8. Start a Profile Page is a program we’ve worked on with Sybase. It allows customers and prospects to personalize their e-mail experience with Sybase.

The idea is to direct customers or prospects to a "Profile Page" where they can register the following information. (1) What specific products and services they are most interested in, (2) How often they would like to hear from you, and in what form. (3) Anything else you think might be important.

The benefit is that your prospects and customers get involved; they are much more likely to open your e-mails; they are much more likely to respond – because they’ve chosen to receive it.

9. e-mail "conversations"

Sending out individual messages and measuring the response may not the best way to do e-mail.

It may be smarter to develop an e-mail campaign or "conversation." This is defined as "A series of e-mails tailored to customer motivations and sequenced to guide them through the buying cycle."

It involves multiple contacts; asking for information; developing a true dialogue with your prospects or customers – and then measuring the aggregate response to the entire campaign.

Would you like more information? Both of their presentations will be available at in the next 10 days.

7 Rules for Direct Marketers

I’ve just finished re-writing my booklet, 101 Ways to Improve Response, and it occurred to me that there are many rules for direct marketing…

…but none that I know of for direct marketers.

And so even though I agree with David Ogilvy that "rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men (and women)" I would like to set down 7 rules for direct marketers.

1. Respect your Audience

How should you think about the people you’re marketing to?

First of all, they’re people – just like you.

Your goal shouldn’t be to fool them, or trick them into responding. Your goal should be to give them information that can help them, or improve their lives, or make their jobs a little easier.

I’ve known direct marketing professionals who had the very lowest regard for the people they marketed to. I’ve heard them say things like, "Ha! They’ll really fall for this" or "This will trick them."

People who feel like this usually don’t last very long. And they’re not happy being in the business.

On the other hand, when you respect your target market --- and their taste and intelligence – you will almost always be successful.

And never send something out in the mail or e-mail that you wouldn’t want your mother to receive.

2. Respect your clients

My wife Laura sometimes gets upset by the amount of direct mail we receive. This is particularly true when I come home from a business trip, and there’s a box of accumulated direct mail waiting for me.

Whenever this happens, I tactfully point out that "direct mail built our house."

And that’s also how I feel about my clients.

They provide my income; they’ve helped me take care of my children; they’ve made it possible for me to buy things and travel and enjoy my life.

Your clients have done the same for you – and even though they may not always know as much about direct marketing as you do (Thank goodness, or they wouldn’t need you!) they still deserve your respect, if not your affection.

People do business with people they like. When you like and respect your clients, you will never have to worry about new business.

3. Respect your clients’ knowledge

When I first got to Boston, I was the Creative Director of the Direct Response group of a large general agency.

The general agency went through a terrible period where they lost 7 major accounts in the space of a year. No one had any idea why, and so the agency called in an outside consultant.

The consultant spent 30 days talking to people within the agency and all our ex-clients.

He then reported back to the agency management board, of which I was a member. His presentation had only 14 slides – two each for every client we had lost.

He began by saying, "I talked to Friendly Restaurants (one of the lost clients) – and here’s what they said about you: "Your creative work is good. However, you charge more than other agencies. And they don’t feel you’re responsive to their needs."

Now here’s what you said about them: "They’re stupid. They don’t know good work when they see it."

The consultant went through lost client after lost client. And while each client said different things about the agency, the agency had the same thing to say about every client.

The consultant concluded, "If you continue to think that your clients are stupid, you will lose every single one of them."

I learned an important lesson that day – but they didn't. Today that large Boston agency is out of business.

Your clients, even if they are relatively new to their job, know a lot more about their business – and their industry, and their customers, and their market -- than you do.

When Bill Bernbach started working with Avis Rent-a-car, there were two cardinal rules.

1. Avis knows more about renting cars than the agency will ever know. That’s why Avis will have the last word about anything having to do with car rentals.

2. The agency knows more about advertising than Avis. That’s why the agency will have the last word about any advertising issues.

This formula produced a long and productive relationship and dramatically successful advertising.

You should not only respect your client’s knowledge, you should use it.

The more you listen to them; the more questions you ask them; the more likely you are to be able to help them solve their problems.

Would you like to receive the next four rules? Just e-mail me at and I’ll be happy to send you the complete article.

New Revised 101 Ways

By the way, if you’d like a free copy of our newly revised 101 Ways to Improve Response – now with a short e-mail section – please let us know, and we’ll be happy to send one along.

Forward and Backward, and a Few Words about Privacy

You are welcome to forward this to anyone else who you believe may be interested.

To unsubscribe, just send me an e-mail that says "Remove" and I will understand.

And once again, please let me remind you that your name and/or e-mail address will never be shared, sold, circulated, or passed along to anyone else. Thank you.

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