The Order Card: It’s Your Cash Register

The order card is your close, your ring of the cash register. Your design should maximize revenue and/or response potential. Order cards need to be simple, clear and single-mindedly focused. And in print, especially, give people enough space to fill it out. We’ve all had that form that required us to write in a microscopic space.

7. Coupon rules: They work. They help make it clear it’s the order vehicle. Make them bold, use coupon scissor graphics, add instruction lines with arrows pointing to the coupon rule. We all know what this line means and go right to it.

8. Give as many reply options as possible: Include on your order form alternative ways to order: phone, website landing page, reply envelope, email and even a fax number. Yes, I said fax number.

Okay, so fax might not be right for everyone, but your options should be based on your customer personas. The easier and faster they can order, the better. FYI, we saw many fax orders for a Jazz CD club whose customers were older and comfortable with using a fax.

9. Use tokens: People love moving a sticker from the letter or other package piece to the order form. This interactivity can make selection easier, make it faster, highlight a bonus offer and dramatically increase your response rate and order size.

10. Do the math: If it’s at all possible, do the math on your order forms. You don’t want your buyers to need to pull out a calculator. If that’s not possible, make your form very clear with boxes for quantity, price each, sales tax and shipping. Create an area that makes it easy to add up all the numbers. Do everything possible to help them do the math.

11. Give multiple choices for payment: The more choice you give for payment the better. For credit cards, take as many types of cards as possible. This could even include a “bill-me” option. Bill Me’s can lift response, but you’ll need to control your your bad pay rate. You may have restrictions that you can’t do anything about … but try to give as many options as possible.

12. Never use the back: What I mean is do not use the back of an order form to continue the order form. It’s a great place for a guarantee, legal copy or similar copy. The problem: many people may not get to the back. It could make the order process seem daunting or cause incomplete ordering. (Okay, some of you may not agree with this. I know you should never say never — but my feeling is why take the chance?)

13. Test. Test. Test. Remember these are just guidelines. You need to continuously A/B test the elements of your design for maximum results. As they say, your mileage my vary.

Remember the key to effective order forms is to keep it simple, fill in as much data as possible and make it clear what to do. Design is your best tool to lead the recipient through the order process on the order form, culminating in the recipient placing the form in your postage-free business reply envelope (BRE) to close the sale.

Author: Patrick Fultz

Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.

3 thoughts on “The Order Card: It’s Your Cash Register”

  1. Fine piece on the all-important order form. Two additional thoughts:

    1. Before committing your OF to print or sending it out digitally, give it to 3 or 5 consumers—or business colleagues—to fill in. Make sure these folks are strangers—not people in your organization. This is not about your offer. It’s about making sure the OF tracks. In the words of the late Ellsworth Howell (CEO of Grolier Enterprises): “Make it easy to order.”

    2. The great direct mail freelancer Chris Stagg once told me whenever he got a writing/designing assignment, he always created the order form first. This summarized and clarified the product/service/ask in his head—offer, price, USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and key benefits. From there he would find it much easier to take off on the letter, circular, lift pieces, premiums/freemiums and OSE. Also subject line, although Chris probably passed before e-marketing. Of course, once Chris got deep into the project the order form might be rewritten and redesigned. But this was how he started. Keep up the good work. Cheers. Denny Hatch.

    1. Denny, once again you’ve added wonderful advice. Especially having strangers/prospects/customers fill in the form. I always do this… it’s the best way to find the flaws.

  2. You need to be capable of finding order of cash and tools that will be capable of serve your business for quite some time to come.

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