Make Me an Offer — But Set My Expectations

What’s the ideal offer expiration date? Any good direct marketer knows that you have to test and learn what works for your brand, but in the early days of direct mail the rule of thumb was six to eight weeks (long enough for the recipient to receive the offer in the mail, write a check and mail it back).

What’s the ideal offer expiration date? Any good direct marketer knows that you have to test and learn what works for your brand, but in the early days of direct mail the rule of thumb was six to eight weeks (long enough for the recipient to receive the offer in the mail, write a check and mail it back).

But now that brands can communicate with customers instantly via email, text, Instagram and Facebook, offer windows can be shortened to a hours. And, when positioned appropriately, can drive a quick hit of revenue.

But here’s a case of what NOT to do …

On Friday, September 4, I received an email offer from Travelocity to click the link which would reveal how much I’d save (with the promise that it would range from 10 percent — 75 percent off on hotels). Given that I travel a lot, and I often book with Travelocity, it was an offer worth my click time. Plus, the button was kind of fun with a “Surprise Me” action message.

Naturally I was disappointed when I learned I had only earned 10 percent off and with another click had deleted the email message from my desktop and my memory bank.

But two days later, on Sunday, September 6 at 6:50 pm, I received another Travelocity email. This time the subject line was “Don’t Forget to Click. Reveal. Redeem.”

Given that it was a long weekend I didn’t check my emails until Monday, Sept 7 and, since I had completely forgotten about the earlier Travelocity email (since my inbox is filled with hundreds of email exchanges a day), I clicked the link in this email too. Only this time I got the message “Sorry! The Coupon is no longer valid” with a little clock icon reinforcing that time had run out.

My first reaction was that somebody at Travelocity had screwed up. Surely any email offer was going to last more than a day or two.

First, I found the original email offer in my deleted folder and it told me the offer expired on September 7. But instead of telling me I only had a few days or 72 hours, the email just gave me a calendar date — which, at the time, seemed like the distant future.

The September 6 email also noted that the offer expired on September 7 … but it should have said “24 hours” which would have given it the sense of urgency it deserved.

Instead, this Travelocity customer had a negative experience with the brand — and all over a potential 10 percent savings.

The point is, it’s critical that you think carefully about your offers, their activation windows and how you position it in your communication. Travelocity could have created a lot more interest and excitement if their original subject line had said “72 hour sale” in it … and their follow up email had “Final 24 hours of our sale.”

Motivating your target to act is one of the many challenges facing marketers today, so if you’re going to include an offer, make sure you give it the urgency it deserves.

8 Seconds to Pounce Using the 3 Es of Copywriting

Eight seconds. That’s the average attention span of today’s reader, with those precious seconds representing about the time to ready only 30 to 40 words of copy. Or about HERE (at 35 words).

Eight seconds. That’s the average attention span of today’s reader, with those precious seconds representing about the time to ready only 30 to 40 words of copy. Or about HERE (at 35 words). As recently as in 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds. But when online and mobile use exploded, along with distractions from multiple streams of media, another one-third of our attention span was lopped off.

Attention span, as defined in a new study, is “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.” Commanding concentrated time in just eight seconds is a tall order for marketers.

As I wrote above, those eight seconds only allow reading 30 to 40 words (based on my informal findings). That represents about five to eight words for a headline, followed by a couple of average length sentences, or three or four short sentences. That’s all the time you’ve got to engage your reader to convince them to give you more time.

Consider these stats:

  • Average attention span in 2015:
    8.25 seconds
  • Average attention span in 2000:
    12 seconds
  • Average number of times per hour an office worker checks their email box:
    30 times
  • Average length watched of a single internet video:
    2.7 minutes

There are a few other stats out there that underscore how we, as a culture, don’t pay attention for very long before moving on:

  • Percent of web page views that last less than 4 seconds:
    17 percent
  • Percent of web page views that lasted more than 10 minutes:
    4 percent
  • Percent of words read on web pages with 111 words or less:
    49 percent
  • Percent of words read on an average (593 words) web page:
    28 percent

There’s more: users spend only 4.4 seconds more for each additional 100 words speed reading through web copy.

What does this mean for direct marketers? You must grab your reader using three E’s in copywriting that:

  1. Entertains
  2. Educates
  3. Engages

This doesn’t necessarily mean writing shorter copy.

  • Copy must work smarter to get attention. Use the three E’s in combination.
  • Eliminate “warm up” copy and stimulate emotion fast by introducing fear, uncertainty and doubt in your prospect’s mind.
  • Quickly calm your prospect’s mind with your solution and why your prospect should go beyond eight seconds to learn more about you.

Grab the reader with the three E’s of copywriting and improve your odds they’ll stick with you. But if you hope to make the sale, your copy must quickly get to the point to interest the reader longer than a mere eight seconds.