Response Incentive Techniques Printing Knowledge
Response Incentive Techniques

Stimulate Response | Personalization | Involvement Techniques

Direct mail gives you the option of using many different incentive techniques. You are not limited on space as you are in space advertising and broadcasting. This leaves the possibilities open to your imagination. Some areas that are necessary to consider are discussed below.

Stimulate Response

The message about the offer must be perfectly clear and should lead the reader to making a response decision. The response action should be made as easy as possible for the respondent.

Some elements that make the response action easy to complete are:

  • Clear instructions
  • Adequate space to fill in information
  • Pre-addressed reply cards or envelopes
  • Prepaid postage

The response piece should have enough of a message to stimulate response on its own. Add incentive for fast returns, such as additional discounts for quick replies, or use expiration dates. If the reply is requesting confidential or personal information, it is best to supply a return envelope rather than having the response piece be a self mailing card.


If the reply piece is the first thing seen by the recipient, emphasize the offer's positive aspects and hide the negative elements, such as price. If it isn't the first thing seen, be sure to clearly indicate how to find it. Give it a distinct name or description when mentioning it in the other direct mail pieces.


Computer sorted data can be used for a mailing so it can be personalized according to demographic, geographic or psychographics data. A different letter or offer can be sent on a related subject to a sorted group of people.

Some forms of personalization are listed below.

  • Name reference by inserting the recipient's name and/or address into the body of the letter.
  • Name reference by inserting the recipient's name and/or address on the reply card.
  • Name reference by inserting the recipient's name into the message on other inserts.
  • Applying the recipient's name and address on the delivery envelope.
  • Letters printed with a personalized message that relates to a targeted group.
  • Versioned inserts sent to different lists or different segments of a list.

Personalization is applied by ink jet, laser and electrographic processes. It can be accomplished on the press as the pieces are being printed, or offline in a separate process. The process used will depend on the form of personalization being produced and your manufacturer's capabilities. Some manufacturer's can do the entire process but many times the services of a mail house are required.

Involvement Techniques

There are many items you can add to your direct mail package to encourage the recipient to open it and read the message enclosed. Making the elements visible to the recipient before the piece is opened will increase the chances of getting their attention.

Some items that can be used are:

  • Checks
  • Rebates
  • Coins
  • Stamps
  • Membership cards
  • Stickers,
  • Gift certificates
  • Discount cards
  • Gifts, such as seed packets, note pads and product samples


Techniques, that require an action be performed, are effective in getting the recipient involved. Some of the techniques used are:

  • Scratch 'n' sniff areas
  • Rub off inks - revealing a message
  • Punch out flaps
  • Punch out tokens
  • Repositionable stickers

The techniques above can stimulate the recipient's interest in taking the steps to complete the offer response.


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