Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving response to
business-to-business, high-tech, and direct marketing.
February 28, 2011
You are getting this e-mail because you subscribed to it on
www.bly.com or because you are one of Bob’s clients, prospects,
seminar attendees, or book buyers. If you would prefer not to
receive further e-mails of this type, go to the bottom of this
message and click on “SafeUnsubscribe.”
Your subscription brings you one regular monthly issue, usually
at the beginning of the month, plus one or two supplementary
messages each week. These are typically either free tips or
personal recommendations for information products on marketing or
related topics. I review products before recommending them and in
many cases know the authors.
We do not rent or share your name with anybody. Feel free to
forward this issue to any peers, friends and associates you think
would benefit from its contents. They will thank you. So will I.
***Useful rules of thumb for e-mail marketers***
>> Make subject lines 37 characters or less.
>> Promotional messages should take up no more than 3 screens.
>> Copy should be no more than 2 scrolls deep and 650 pixels in
>> Use no more than 5 variations of colors and fonts.
>> Images should use alt tags. They should be optimized for web
(72 DPI) and under 30K.
>> The call to action should appear above and below the fold –
and in the preview pane.
Source: SIPA Hotline, 1/11, p.2.
***Add your location when bidding on keywords***
If your service is one where customers would prefer to work with
a local vendor (e.g., cosmetic dentistry, PC repair), bid on key
phrases that include your location. Example: “Hard drive data
recovery Northern NJ.”
Why it pays off: there are fewer people bidding on this key
phrase than on the broader “Hard drive data recovery,” so you’ll
likely be able to pay less per click … and, you attract
prospects more inclined to hire you.
Tip: Make sure your physical address is prominent on your Web
site. Many service providers bid on local key phrases, and then
try to hide the fact that they are actually out of town.
***Learn from the man who taught me direct response
In their September 2007 issue of Target Marketing, copywriter
Denny Hatch wrote a full-page review of the e-book I edited,
“Milt Pierce’s Marketing Success Secrets.”
As Denny points out in his review, Milt Piece is a legendary
copywriter. He is perhaps best known for his “33 ways to save
time and money” letter, which was an unbeaten control for Good
Housekeeping for an unprecedented 25 years.
I took Milt’s copywriting course at New York University in the
early 1980s. The e-book is a collection of Milt’s best articles
and sales letters – including the full text of the Good
“You will find dozens of useful ideas in ‘Milt Pierce’s Marketing
Success Secrets’ as well as have a very enjoyable read,” says
Denny. “At just $39, it’s a bargain.”
For more information or to order, click here now:
Source: “The Wisdom of Milt Pierce,” by Denny Hatch, Target
Marketing, 9/07, p. 66
***How to prevent typos in your copy***
According to an article in Customer Service Advantage (10/5/07,
p. 4), spell-check fails to catch 7 out of 10 errors.
Therefore, you have to proofread your copy carefully. But that’s
difficult to do if you’ve already read the copy multiple times,
because your mind skips many words.
Solution: proofread your copy backward.
Why it works: the copy loses all meaning when read backward,
forcing you to notice each word more.
***Overcoming price resistance***
When selling against a lower-priced competitor, communicate the
price difference – your extra cost – in the smallest unit of
Example: You sell an annual service agreement covering home
appliances for $395, and a competitor charges $295.
Customers like you better, but are having trouble with your fee
being $100 higher.
What they don’t see is that $100 divided by 365 is only 27.4
cents a day.
You need to focus on that small price differential in your
Point out that they are getting superior service — and greater
peace of mind — for just 27 cents a day … “less than the price
of a first-class postage stamp.”
Source: The Selling Advantage, Special Issue, 10/6/07, p.2.
***What a Nathan’s hot dog can teach you about marketing***
When Nathan Handwerker opened his first hot dog stand in Coney
Island, sales were slow, despite the price of a hot dog being
just a nickel.
Reason: the public believed rumors that hot dogs were made from
tainted beef, and stayed away.
Solution: Nathan hired good-looking young college men to stand
around his cart eating hot dogs. He had each student wear a white
lab coat and a stethoscope.
The public “ate it up.” They believed that these “customers” were
doctors, and if doctors were eating Nathan’s hot dogs, it must be
healthy. Sales skyrocketed.
To learn the full story on Nathan and the selling of hot dogs in
America and overseas, check out my book “All American Frank: A
History of the Hot Dog” from PublishAmerica.
For more information or to order online, click here now:
***5 ways to make your sales letters easier to read***
1-Indent all your paragraphs 5 or 7 spaces.
2-Use short paragraphs. Maximum paragraph length: 7 lines of
3-Write your copy in the tone and rhythm of a personal one-on-one
4-Underline key phrases and put a few well-chosen words in ALL
CAPS for those who will skim your letter.
5-Use lists of features or benefits with bullets or asterisks.
Source: Jutkins, Ray, “Magic Marketing Minutes,” p. 27
***Making documents easier to read***
Maximize contrast between the typography and the background.
Reason: a greater amount of contrast makes it easier to
distinguish an image. This is especially true for the contrast in
color between text and paper.
As for type size: yes, older readers prefer large type. But type
style also matters. Avoid ornate typefaces and overuse of
italics. Choose a serif type.
A bit more spacing between lines also enhances readability. Avoid
extensive use of ALL CAPS and type reversing out of a solid or
Indenting paragraphs and use of standard capitalization improve
reading, as do smaller blocks of copy, shorter lines of type, and
Source: Writing That Works, 1/9/08
***Make online buyers push your buttons***
A common mistake in designing landing pages is to use an
underlined word or phrase as the hyperlink to the order page.
Much more effective is to design the hyperlink as an order
button. To increase response, says online marketing guru Amy
Africa, use big buttons. She recommends telling your designer to
triple whatever they think is big.
Color makes a difference. The Mequoda group reports a split test
where the only variable on the landing page was the order button
color. Red was the control, which was tested against green,
yellow, and ochre. The winner? Ochre, generating 27% higher
conversion rates than red.
Source: Thinking Inside the Box, 2/8/08; Mequoda Group.
***Reprint my articles – free!***
Media, bloggers, marketers, editors, publishers, Web masters —
need powerful content on your Web site or blog? You can syndicate
or republish any of the articles you’ve read in Bob Bly Direct
Response Letter — for free! To view complete articles, visit our
newsletter archives at www.bly.com/archive. Republishing our
articles is quick and easy. All you have to do is include author
attribution (byline/name of author) and the following statement,
“This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly Direct Response
Letter,” and include a back-link to www.bly.com. That’s it!
***60-second commercial from Bob Bly***
I am available on a limited basis for copywriting of direct mail
packages, sales letters, brochures, white papers, ads, e-mail
marketing campaigns, PR materials, and Web pages. Please
call for a FREE copy of my updated Copywriting Information Kit.
Just let me know your industry and the type of copy you’re
interested in seeing (ads, mailings, etc.) and if I am available
to take on your assignment, I’ll tailor a package of recent
samples to fit your requirements. Call me at 201-505-9451 or