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In the old days of direct marketing, marketers would send out a letter AND a reply card.

Then along came the toll-free 800 number and some marketers decided they could save a few pennies on the reply card and use the telephone as the exclusive response channel. Not a good idea.

Now as we have added websites (specifically web landing pages) to our response menu, more and more marketers are deciding to drop the reply card from their direct mail packages. Again not a good idea.

There are seven (7) response channels available to us as marketers – mail, telephone, fax, email, website (or landing page), mobile text and walk-in.

As a general rule, the more channels you can make available to your target audience, the more responses you can expect.

The reason is simple:  different people prefer different response channels for different reasons.  For example, not everyone is comfortable with email or website responding. Some people would rather read their mail on the train or away from the office. If you have a reply card, it can be conveniently set aside for mailing later.

But the bigger issue is this: different response channels create different levels of commitment.

For example, people who respond by phone are generally more committed (and probably more qualified) than people who respond by mail.

Here’s why: We all know that if you respond by phone, there’s a good chance you will have to speak with a sales person. But if you send in a reply card, there is no initial live contact. By adding a reply card to your package, you should be able to to pick up many more (albeit lower quality) responses.

The other factor here is that the reply card provides added emphasis to your offer and call to action. If your offer and call to action are just in the letter, it could get buried.

So when you plan your next direct marketing campaign, think about using all of your response channels.

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Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is www.mccarthyandking.com. He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at bob@mccarthyandking.com