10 Elements Every Direct Mail Piece Should Have

10 Elements Every Direct Mail Piece Should Have

by: Joe Niewierski

Don’t want your direct mail to end up in the trash with the rest of the unread mail? Studies show an effective direct mail campaign should draw a .5 to 1 percent response. These 10 tips will help you get the results you want:

1. A clear, bold headline. On the envelope or front of the mailer there should be one central message. The best way to achieve that is with a bold, clear headline that’s not cluttered up with other text. A good guideline is to have the headline fill up at least 15% of the front of the mailer.

2. A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be easy to understand and add to the message the headline is trying to convey. For instance, if you are trying to get people to list their home you would want to show a home with SOLD sign clearly visible out front. That graphic reinforces the message more than a simple picture of a home.

3. Color that pops. Make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color. When you look at the card, ask yourself, กWhat do I see first?ก If your answer isn’t the headline, you might want to tweak the colors.

4. Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there’s nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. A subhead will give people a place to start reading. If you have only a 100 words or so you may be able to get away with it, but if the text gets any longer than that the average reader will want to have some guideposts along the way.

5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features, rather than benefits. For example, never assume recipients know what benefit can be derived from a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Let them know how their monthly payments will go down.

6. The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as ขLimited supplyข or ขInterest rates are climbing.ข

7. Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn’t overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.

8. Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. ขCall today for more informationข or ขSee us onlineข are two of the most common desired actions.

9. Contact information. Provide your name, phone number, and Web address directly following the call to action. Whatever you ask prospects to do, give them the means to do it easily.

10. Return address. A return address ensures you’ll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you’re an established professional. People feel better knowing the company they’re dealing with has an actual location.

About The Author

Joe Niewierski, the VP of Marketing & Promotion at PostcardMania, became a published writer after graduating with a BA in Advertising from the University of South Florida. Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998; her only assets a computer and a phone. In 2004 the company did close to $9 million in sales and employs over 60 persons. She attributes her explosive growth to her ability to choose incredible staff and her innate marketing savvy. Now she’s sharing her marketing secrets with others. For more free marketing advice, visit her website at www.postcardmania.com.

This article was posted on February 21

by Joe Niewierski

Steps to Create and Promote RSS Feeds

Steps to Create and Promote RSS Feeds

by: S. Housley

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication as it is commonly known, is a technology that gives webmasters the ability to easily distribute and publish syndicated content on the Internet. It seems like all Internet businesses now have RSS feeds available; at least your competitors do. You have finally made the decision that you have to have one. Where do you start?

Steps to Creating an RSS feed

1.) Build a Feed

There are a number of desktop and web applications available that make feed creation easy. I would encourage anyone creating a feed to use one. Though not overly complicated, handcoding an RSS feed can become a bit confusing and timeconsuming. Most desktop software applications for building a feed include a wizard and contactsensitive help, simplifying the process of creating a feed. Following a few simple steps in a wizard generally will produce an RSS feed in just a few minutes.

Publishers control what information is syndicated in the RSS feed, so ultimately it is the publisherกs decision as to whether to include teaser copy or full articles. Consider what you are trying to accomplish and who your target audience is when building the feed.

Software to Build a Feed http://www.feedforall.com

Tutorial for Creating Feed by Hand using XML http://www.makerssfeeds.com

2.) Transfer the Feed Onto Your Server

Once you have constructed an RSS feed you will need to transfer the feed to your server. This can be done using a standard FTP client (if it is not built into the feed creation software). The feed is usually placed in the domainกs root directory like this: http://www.mydomain.com/nameoffeed.xml , but as long as you know where it is it doesn’t really matter.

3.) Display the Feed on Your Website Using a Graphic of Some Sort

In order to signal to website visitors that an RSS feed containing content related to the website is available, include a colorful graphic on the website. It has become a standard that nearly all websites that have RSS feeds available use colorful graphics such as flags as indicators that RSS feeds are available for specific content. The flags were initially bright orange rectangles but as the popularity has grown, webmasters have bent the rules a bit. NotePage has made a free online RSS graphic tool available that allows users to quickly customize buttons by selecting the text on the button and the color scheme of the button. Once the color and text is entered, a custom graphic is instantly created. Webmasters can easily match the style of the RSS button to a websiteกs theme. Graphics experience is not required. Simply select alternative colors and insert text to personalize RSS feed graphics. The RSS graphics tool can be used by clicking the following URL http://www.feedforall.com/public/rssgraphictool.htm or choose ready made graphics fom: http://www.rssspecifications.com/rssgraphics.htm.

4.) Include Information in the HTML of the Web Page So RSS Readers AutoDetect Your Feed

After publishing an RSS feed it is important to let visitors know that the feed exists. Aggregators will automatically detect RSS on a website if you add a small bit of code in the header field of an HTML page.

[link rel=กalternateก type=กapplication/rss+xmlก title=กRSSก href=กhttp://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xmlก]

Be sure to replace http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml with the URL to the RSS feed and replace the brackets with กก greater than symbols.

5.) Display the Feedกs Content on a Website

Contents contained in an RSS feed can be added to a website, providing site visitors an alternative method for viewing the content. The information will also help increase search engine interest. Displaying the feed as HTML can be accomplished. Providing fresh content on a regular basis will encourage site visitors return.

Tutorial for Displaying Feeds http://www.smallbusinesssoftware.net/displayrss.htm

6.) Submit the Feed to RSS Directories and Search Engines

As a rapidly increasing number of content sources, new and old, migrate or add RSS as a key distribution channel, and as more people utilize RSS newsreaders and aggregators to keep themselves informed, the ability to maintain high exposure and visibility is gradually shifted from complete attention to major search engines and content optimization techniques to an increasing awareness of RSS feed directories and search tools.

In order to increase exposure of an RSS feed it should be submitted to RSS search engines and directories. This can be done manually. Just as you would submit the URL of a website or web page to a search engine you will need to submit the link of the actual feed located on your website to the RSS directories. There is a large list of RSS directories at http://www.rssspecifications.com/rsssubmission.htm . If you prefer to automate the submission process try RSS Submit at: http://www.dummysoftware.com/rsssubmit.html. An evaluation version is available.

About The Author

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.

This article was posted on March 30

by S. Housley

Ten Free Ways To Promote Your Website

Ten Free Ways To Promote Your Website

by: BB Lee

Often, website owners would like to promote their new business but are strapped for cash. What a dilemma! How to market your product if the public doesn’t know your website exist? The odds are you will lack the flow of traffic to survive in the vast ocean called the World Wide Web.
You are shaking your head in agreement. A fancy promoter service is out of the question. It will not fit in with your budget. A viable alternative does exist. FREE PROMOTION HANDLED BY YOU!
By using the following *proven methods* you can effectively promote your site and announce it to the Internet.

Search Engines: Thousands of search engines exist on the Internet. But, you should only be concerned with the top eight or ten. You should manually submit to the top eight: Alta Vista, Excite, Yahoo, Hotbot, Lycos, Northern Light, Infoseek, Webcrawler, and use one of the FREE automatic submission services like *SubmitPlus* to handle the smaller search engines.
Directories: List your site here too. Directories organize sites into categories. Good examples of Directories: Yahoo, Magellan.
Ezine Listings: If you have an ezine to promote along with your site. Why not list it with one of the many ezine services on the Internet. Ezine Library is a good one to start with.
Free Classifieds: You will have to submit to a ton of FREE classifieds to get any significant traffic. Why? You are competing with thousands of other Ads. Remember to work on your Ad copy and make it attention grabbing. Go to one of the popular search engines, type in Free Classifieds, and surf to the top 20 classified sites for beginners. Often, these sites will lead you to several other Free Classified Sites. In response youกll get a stack of email thanking you for listing your site while barking their promo. Best to get one of those free email accounts. Hot mail is a good one. So is Yahoo mail.
FFA Pages. Free For Allกs are worth a try. Be prepared for a avalanche of emails from FFA web site owners. If your title is attention grabbing you will get a few clicks. Good Attention grabbing headlines, FREE, Limited Time, Limited Offer, Proven, Secrets, and many more if you brainstorm. Check out the sales literature delivered to you by regular mail. Check and see what headlines grab your attention. And why? Incorporate them into your Online Ads.
Signature File: A short message you include at the end of your email messages. Suppose you publish a gift ezine list. You might use this sig to promote your ezine:

Jane Smith webmaster@gifts.com
http://www.gifts.com
Subscribe to our FREE Weekly Gift Ezine, by emailing: gifts@gifts.com

Ad Swaps: Swap Ads with other ezine owners if you are promoting an ezine. Best to swap with a zine that has a larger subscribership. Go to one of the ezine directories and search for zines with a similar theme. Send them a short, polite, email asking if they would like to swap ads. You will certainly increase your traffic flow if you hook up with the right zine.
Write An Article: Write an article promoting your site or product. Write an article on a hot topic many people would like more information on and submit it to various ezines. How do you find out whatกs hot? Visit a few of the message boards and see what questions are raised often.
Tell Friends And Family: If your friends, family, acquaintances, have an Internet Connection, email them telling them about your new website, and ask them to visit often. Offer a FREE incentive if they tell a few friends to surf over. Perhaps, a FREE Ad in your ezine.
Leave Business Cards or Flyers: Leave these promo pieces with small businesses in your community. All relevant contact information; email address, URL, telephone number, should be included. Offer a freebie to anyone who visits your site. A free ebook, report.

Still think you have to spend Big Bucks to promote your site? This short article has disclosed easy, simple, solutions, to promote your site for FREE, and increase the hits on your site. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and Promote.

About The Author

Copyright 2001, SmallBiz Publishing.
BB Lee is Editor of SmallBizBits Newsletter. Join Our List Of Informed Subscribers Today! Receive Practical Advice And Homebiz Tips Monthly. Subscribe by emailing: Smallbizsubscribe@topica.com

This article was posted on January 16, 2002

by BB Lee