I typically focus on email marketing, since it is cost effective, it has a viral quality, and VerticalResponse happens to offer a great email solution for startups, but the following suggestions can apply to direct mail projects as well.
When designing your email campaign or your promotion mailing, from copy to layout, consider how your recipient will interact with it and where their eye will go first. In an email marketing campaign it looks like something like this:
1) From Label & Subject Line: This should be your company name, no exception. Then you only have 45-50 characters of visible space for your subject line or the teaser message on a postcard and envelope of a direct mail piece. Use them wisely in order to get your recipient to open the email. Don’t bother repeating your company name in the subject line or you will be wasting space. Subject lines need to sell the value of your email message and its offer.
2) Headlines: Use a great headline that is action oriented and supports the decision they’ve already made by clicking to open. Can’t decide between 2 subject lines. Send a test of each subject line to 10% of your list and use the winner to send to the remaining 80% of your list. VerticalResponse and probably some other Email Service Providers, make this easy to do.
3) Copy: Break up your copy into sections and use bullets for online readability. People receive so many messages these days that they typically scan emails to quickly determine the value and relevancy in a matter of seconds. While reading an email they may be asking themselves, why is this important? what do I get? and how do I respond? Make sure you can answer those questions yourself, quickly, before you hit send.
4) Offers: Make sure you include an offer that provides something for the recipient to learn, gain or enjoy. That’s my test for a foolproof offer!
5) Call to Action: Make it easy for recipients to respond. Don’t hide your response link at the bottom or two pages in to a letter mailing; provide it in 2-3 places within your email. Repetition is important in any direct marketing communication.
That’s your email from top to bottom, for a better response.