No matter what form of marketing you employ the most important goal is to stand out from the crowd. Personalization of a marketing piece by adding a post-it note or a handwritten note can greatly improve the response. It also produces a “reciprocity” effect according to the Neuromarketing blog, where the recipient recognizes your effort and feels more obligated to respond.
In 1984, Brigitte Maheux, Md, Phd, Claudine Legault, Msc, And Jean Lambert, Phd conducted a study entitled “Increasing Response Rates in physicians mail surveys“. They tested the effectiveness of two techniques among 604 Quebec physicians who had not responded to an initial letter; a handwritten thank you note at the bottom of the letter accompanying the questionnaire and a more personalized mailout package. The results were remarkable with increased response rates by 40.7 per cent and 53.1 per cent, respectively, compared to control groups.
According to the researchers, “even though personalization was undoubtedly effective in increasing physicians’ returns, it is unclear why it worked. It is likely that it plays at different levels by increasing the probabilities that physicians will open the mailout, read the cover letter, and accept to complete the questionnaire. As others have emphasized, more research is needed to understand the principles underlying people’s behavior in relation to mailed questionnaires and to uncover significant interaction among survey techniques, survey content, and population.”
In Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Robert Cialdini describes an interesting twist on the handwritten note. A survey was mailed with three cover letter configurations:
- A printed letter.
- A printed letter with a handwritten message.
- A printed letter with a handwritten message on a Post-It note.
The results were as follows:
- A printed letter generated a response rate of 36 percent.
- A printed letter with a handwritten message boosted this by one third to 48 percent.
- A printed letter with a handwritten message on a Post-it note pushed the response rate to 75 percent.
According to the Neuroscience Marketing blog it seems that what is causing the boost is a “reciprocity” effect. The recipient recognizes that the sender apparently put some personal effort into the mailing, and is more likely to reciprocate with some effort of his own. The recipients who received the handwritten Post-It note were not only more likely to respond, but they also responded more promptly and answered the questions more thoroughly. And, as suggested by the 1989 Maheux study, adding a “Thank you!” and initials to the note further lifted the response rate in yet another Post-It test.
The reciprocity effect is evident when we send a thank you card or even when we hand write an address on a Christmas card or thank you card envelope. And always remember to sign everything and where appropriate add a P.S.
1. Event invitations – both non-profit and for-profit.
2. Surveys and questionnaires.
3. Donation requests.
4. Requests to schedule an appointment.
Even communications that don’t require an action by the recipient, like a “thank you for your donation” note, can be enhanced by stronger personalization.
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