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Interesting and obvious in retrospect. The direct mail industry has been using these techniques for years, with lots of research backing them up.

Full disclosure: in my student days I used to work for a direct mail company, not as a programmer but as a general layout and graphics guy. They weren't mail spammers per se, they specialized in hospital funding drives, or did mail followups on people who were on prescription drugs, to remind them to keep renewing.

Anyway these letters were tested just as carefully as we do today (only an A/B test involved actually printing and mailing stuff). The "Yes! I want to know more about $FOO" format may seem cheesy but it was a proven winner.

You would think people might get tired of it, but they believed that their targets were instead "trained" to respond to these sorts of appeals. That's literally what I was told, when I suggested they try something different.

So, maybe we should be paying close attention to those crappy cards that fall out of magazines?

it may look like shit but the direct marketing peoplr really know and use every dirty trick in the book. when it comes to conversion rates they are the best. dealing with a different target group than the average consumer might require different visual style and somewhat ligter touch though


Not to pick on you personally, but people keep mentioning how good direct marketers are. Does anyone have any (scientific-ish) references for this? I'd like to read more about it.


It's not that all direct marketers are good, just that it's a more mature industry which has done more conversion testing than us web folk have had hot dinners. When a failed conversion costs real money (in printing and postage), every increase counts.

The idea that direct marketers have something to teach us also probably spreads because it's counter-intuitive: you mean all those icky ads I grew up with were clever?


I've heard it from my friends that are Art Directors that the people working on high-profile direct marketing are regarded as the best in the field and earn a lot of money because they are good at what they do.


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