The most common mistake? Ignoring the 40-40-20 Rule.

Over many years, marketers have studied direct response results and have discovered a breakdown of what generally makes an e-campaign or any direct response campaign successful. The results are as follows:

40% is the quality of the LIST

40% is the quality of the OFFER

20% is the quality of the CREATIVE

Of course, every campaign is unique and there are variations of the rule, but 40-40-20 is easy to remember and serves the purpose.

Most marketers like to focus on the creative because that’s the fun part. But now we know creative is only 20% of what’s needed to be successful. The fact is too much time is often spent over-analyzing and revising the creative concept, images and copy.

If you’ve ever created a direct response campaign, you’ve seen this movie. Everyone wants to see the concepts. Then everyone wants to put their mark on it and then it gets reviewed again. The creative goes through endless rounds of revisions until it becomes sanitized and diluted by too many cooks spoiling the creative broth. In the end, everyone is equally unhappy.

To be clear, the creative is important – it needs to grab attention and trigger a response. But instead of so many revisions, make sure the creatives understand the audience/message. Then make sure they create very specific and targeted concepts. Finally, have one creative director who approves the creative.

Back to list. Before you even look for a list or start the creative, spend time creating your audience profile. Try to refine it down as far as possible. Remember your campaign can only get a response from prospects already interested in buying. Don’t try to sell to anyone else. THEY WILL NOT RESPOND. You can’t create demand – only satisfy it.

So, the list must be comprised of people who are most likely to buy your product. Seems obvious, but finding the optimal list requires a clear understanding of your best prospects. That may require some additional research and strategic thinking.

Even with the perfect list, it’s important to understand that only a small number of people will respond:those already interested in buying and can be motivated to buy NOW. Keep in mind, a successful campaign might generate just a 2% response.

With time and budget limitations every marketing campaign faces, you need to focus on only the best prospects Develop your own and/or buy one from a list company. If your list includes current customers, then you have an excellent list. But if you’re trying to grow beyond those audiences, you need to ensure that you’re talking to good prospects. Do some research and connect the dots. You’ll likely discover smaller customer segments that have even more reason to buy.

What about the offer?

In this context, the offer refers to more than just a promotional discount. It includes both the unique appeal of the product combined with any special discount to buy now. You need both and they must be quickly and clearly communicated. You could offer pet rocks at 70% off and not get any response (unless maybe you had the right list, of course!).

So remember the 40-40-20 Rule. It has decades of results to back it up. There are no guarantees in direct response marketing, but a successful email marketing campaign will require:

  1. Quality list (ONLY those prospects most interested in buying your widget)
  2. Must-have offer (e.g. this unique widget is half off, if you order today!)
  3. Powerful creative and Call To Action (on target message, not diluted!)

Good luck!

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