Writing with the Web in Mind

With the seemingly unstoppable growth of online shopping, there’s been a lot of buzz about the “death of print.” And though there’s many a catalog mailer who could (and would) disprove that notion, there’s much to be said about integrating the two efforts. Savvy copywriting for catalog efforts can leverage the online connection without sacrificing the golden standard of printed excellence. Here are a few tricks to try:

  • Get personal. Personalization is a tried-and-true mailing technique, and retailers can use this to their advantage in their catalog efforts. In his February 2006 Strategy Session column, “To Click With Your Direct Mail, Look Online,” Lee Marc Stein wrote, “By using personalized URLs … today’s mailings get significant results for marketers.” To work this into a catalog mailing, write up a small buckslip detailing the presence of a personalized URL. Include short, bulleted directions for what the consumer can do once he gets to his landing page (perhaps sign up for a special offer?). This can lead to greater dividends across both channels.
  • Give photos room to “breathe.” While longer copy is still a boon for certain sectors, the age-old image vs. verbiage argument is settled easily in a catalog mailing. Stein reveals, “Consumers, shaped by their time online and with text messaging, don’t have the patience to read longer.” Provide a summary of features in the catalog, while leading prospects online to delve deeper. However, even shorter copy must focus on how a product can make a customer’s life easier or better.
  • Highlight multiple communication points. There are still the stubborn few catalog shoppers who can’t or simply won’t go online to make a purchase. In a mini gift guide for Things Remembered, a personalized gift retailer, company contact information was featured prominently throughout the mailing, including a toll-free number, an email address, as well as a reminder of the breadth of retail locations around the country. The outer envelope also included the address and phone number of the retail store nearest to the prospect.
  • Focus on incentives. Adding copy callouts throughout the mailing can make any offer more attractive to a consumer. In a holiday effort from Banana Republic, a men’s and women’s clothing retailer, the copy promoted an offer to download 10 free songs with a credit-card purchase of $75 or more.

[Ed. Note: If you are interested in learning more about writing for the Web, make sure you read Monday’s issue of The Golden Thread. We’ll hear from the master of writing for the Web, Nick Usborne.]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: February 20, 2008

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