Understanding How People Read Your Direct Mail is Key to Higher Responses

Want better response rates on your direct mail campaigns? Incorporate Professor Siegfried Vogele's findings in your next campaign.

Using a series of eye-camera studies, Professor Vogele, dean of the Institute for Direct Marketing in Munich, Germany, captured and analyzed the movement of a subject’s eyes as the person opened and read direct mail.

What he found are “hot spots,” areas where the reader’s eyes pause for a few seconds. Direct marketers can use this information to put their most compelling copy in these hot spots, which should improve their open- and response-rate.

Prof. Vogele’s study is extensive, and I'm breaking it up into two posts. This first post covers how a reader views the outer envelope. On average, a reader give us only seven seconds to convince them to open the envelope. But interestingly, most of those seven seconds are spent looking at the back of the envelope as it's being opened. So while the front gets first attention, the back gets longer attention.

To take advantage of this, consider putting information or photos on the back of your envelope. Here are the professor's findings:

Envelope front

1. Your reader's eye fixes first on their name and address. So teaser copy should be nearby.
2. The gaze then moves to the return address in the upper left.
3. Then across the envelope to the stamps, meter mark or indicia before turning the envelope over to open.

Envelope back

4. On the back, the reader's eyes go first to the upper left, quickly checking out any pictures or copy.
5. The eyes then jump to the upper right as the envelope is opened. (Most people open envelopes from right to left, with the eyes following the finger movement.)

But don't stop here. Your letter has hot spots to be taken advantage of too. Learn where they are here.

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