Is there something that can be done to improve ROI for your direct mail program? How can the response rate be increased? How can you get a larger average gift?
There are many factors that can affect the performance of a direct mail appeal letter; but for today, we will focus on one component that can significantly make an impact on your direct mail letter results — the response device.
The response device is a coupon or card that the recipient sends back with their gift. It is probably the most important element in the direct mail package. This is why it is important to do it right!
If a response device is complicated, cluttered, and poorly designed, it will negatively impact response. But if you design it correctly, it can be a powerful tool to raise the response rate and potentially increase the average gift.
Here are some tips on how to make your response device more effective:
• Make sure to include one! You would be surprised how many organizations don’t include a response device in their letter. Just enclosing a return envelope is not enough.
• Keep it simple. It should look fast and easy to complete. If it looks complicated and time consuming to fill out, the recipient will set it aside.
• Use an easy-to-read font and make sure the size is at least 12 points. Use colors to help highlight information that you want to bring attention to.
• Include your toll-free phone number and a special website address for “faster service.” The special website address allows you to attribute response to this specific campaign. Some recipients will respond by sending the coupon back using the mail, but others will respond utilizing the phone number or website. By adding multiple ways for a recipient to respond, your overall response rate will increase.
• Make it easy for the donor. Be sure to pre-print the recipient’s address information, account number, and mail codes on the response device so the recipient doesn’t have to fill in this information.
• Repeat the Call to Action mentioned in the letter and speak in the first person. This call to action needs to be the primary message on the response device. For example: “Yes, I want to help provide clean drinking water to men, women, and children in Haiti. Enclosed is my gift of $_________ to help dig wells that will save lives.”
• Make sure the response device easily fits in the return envelope.
• Make it convenient to give again. Provide a way for the recipient to indicate he/she wants their gift to be auto-debited from his/her credit card or bank account. Provide an area on the back of the response device to provide credit card information, expiration date, and CVV code.
• Provide suggested-giving ask amounts on the response device (e.g., $50, $25, $75, $_______). I suggest using variable gift ask amounts that are customized to each recipient’s giving history. There are many formulas you may use to calculate the ask amounts. You can use the donor’s maximum contribution amount, average gift amount, or last gift amount to determine the ask amounts to appear on the response device. By including suggested ask amounts, your average gift can increase substantially.
Your response device is a powerful tool that can have a major impact on ROI, so incorporate the above tips and get ready to see your response rate and average gift amount increase!