15 Ways to Fine-tune your Offer

Your offer is right up there with your list selection when it comes to direct-mail impact. But what factors make for productive offers? Noted marketing authority Stephen Lett offers these 15 critically important pointers:

  • Free shipping offers, Lett writes, can boost revenue per mailing by 20% or more. Clearly, not every mailer can afford to pick up the tab for shipping and processing costs, Lett admits.

    However, crunch your numbers. If free shipping boosts response and yields enough income to justify its existence, you’d be well advised at least to test the offer.

  • Flat-fee shipping, regardless of order size, can lift response and revenue as effectively as a free-shipping offer, in Lett’s years of experience, and covers part of your delivery costs.

    Lett has tested flat-rate shipping at the $2.95, $3.95, and $4.95 levels and has seen no difference in response. Apparently, the fact that a perceived bargain in shipping fees are offered at all is more important than the size of the dollar figure.

  • A discount in dollars beats offers of a percentage off, Lett notes. The reason, he believes, is that a percentage discount offer is harder for the purchaser to understand than an offer in currency. Don’t force your sales prospect to reach for his scratch pad or calculator, Lett says.

  • Offering a free gift along with a purchase is a less-effective offer than any of the above, but can work, according to Lett.

    He says that the gift, if you go that route, should not be a product that you are selling, and that offering a gift with a high perceived value is key.

  • Aim for high response, not a high average order, Lett advises. Healthy response numbers translate to new customers and repeats or upgrades after their initial orders.

    Test an offer with no minimum order, Lett urges. In his extensive testing, this tactic lifts both response percentages and average order income.

Lett’s 10 rules on offers

  1. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish.

  2. Do not skimp on financial analysis.

  3. Always test an offer against other offers.

  4. Avoid too many tests within a drop.

  5. Do not make special offers during your peak sales periods.

  6. Complacency is a no-no. Retest your control offer.

  7. Learn from what your competitors are doing.

  8. Make your sample large enough to be statistically valid.

  9. Expect repeated offers to decline in impact.

  10. Results count. Act on them.