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The Reply Card: Art or Afterthought?

The sales letter, lift letter, and brochure tucked inside your direct mail package all share one purpose – to compel the reader to complete and return the reply card. While most cards may never be returned, every card that is returned represents an interested prospect. The value far outweighs the cost of printing and insertion. When you look at it this way, you begin to view this thin, rectangular piece not as an afterthought, but as an integral component of your direct mail strategy.
Creating an effective reply card is an art. Within the defined space of a few inches, you must capture interest and summarize your selling proposition while leaving room for the respondent’s contact information, your return address, and postage. Graphics should be subtle to avoid confusing or distracting the reader. Coated cardstock won’t work because the respondent needs to write on the piece.
Well-conceived reply cards have several things in common:
• They get straight to the point about what is being offered and what the reader needs to do.
• Checkboxes are included with a positive call to action and often an incentive as well: “YES! I accept your free trial offer!”
• Additional avenues for responding are featured prominently, such as a toll-free telephone number, QR Code, and links to social media.
• An expiration date is included to create a sense of urgency.
Studies have shown that response rates can be greatly increased when response devices are personalized. In this age of identity theft, however, you must be sensitive to the amount of information that is traveling through the mail on a postcard. If your business requires personal data like date of birth or a credit card number, be sure to include a reply envelope. Whatever approach you take, make sure your piece meets U.S. Postal Service standards for cost-effective processing.
A reply card is arguably the most important piece inside your direct mail package. Rethink the role this seemingly simple piece plays in your overall direct mail plan.

© 2014 The Foley Group

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