The late Chicago agency head and author Bob Stone wrote that in his more than 30 years in the marketing trenches these 16 direct-mail principles held true more than 90% of the time:
Your best customers — probably only about 20% of your mail-derived total — will produce around 80% of your repeat orders.
A customer’s second order is more important than his first transaction with you, because a two-time buyer is at least twice as likely as a one-time purchaser to buy again.
Test “hotline” names. If they don’t pull, any other list select probably will not work.
Merge/purge names from two or more lists will out-pull names from any single list in which they appear.
Mailing to any list overlay will boost response.
A follow-up mailing to a list within 50 days of your first drop will pull 40% to 50% of the initial mailing.
Optional Yes/No offers consistently generate higher responses than a “Yes” choice alone.
Negative-option offers will out-pull positive offers by at least two to one.
A credit-card option will outperform cash-with-order transactions by two to one. In catalog selling, it will leverage orders upward by at least 20%.
Time-limited offers citing a specific date out-pull no-time-limit propositions almost always.
Free-gift offers consistently produce higher response than discount offers.
Self mailers certainly are less costly to produce than envelope-enclosed mailings, but virtually never generate more orders.
A pre-print of your next space ad, in an envelope that also includes a letter and a response device and a reply envelope, will generate 50% more sales than a post-print advertisement.
A brand-new catalog mailed to your existing customers will outperform a cold list by 400% to 800%.
Your average dollar value of an order is easier to increase than your response rate.
In business-to-business mail, the closure rate from qualified leads is two to four times as effective as cold calling.
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