Showing posts with label Johnson Box. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnson Box. Show all posts

1/31/2021

Amazon Music Unlimited: Improving the Pitch

 This letter from Amazon Music Unlimited merits a Fail for Creative for a combination of mistakes and missed improvement opportunities. 


Some positive elements of the solo letter package:
  • The letter is addressed to an Amazon Prime customer in a closed-face envelope with simple Amazon branding. This approach ensures a high open rate because Amazon and the customer have an ongoing business relationship, meaning the Prime customer will open the letter to see what it is about.
  • The front of the letter is easily scannable. The Johnson Box clearly communicates that the Prime customer would benefit from 3 months of free … something.
  • The sparse use of copy and generous use of white space help call out the benefits of Amazon Music Unlimited.
  • The letter opens with a personal salutation, addressed to the Amazon Prime customer.
  • The Call toAction on the front of the letter is easy to find.
Amazon Music Unlimited Offer Letter
Front of Letter
using Amazon Music Letterhead



However, there are opportunities to improve on this approach.

The letterhead is from “Amazon Music,” which is already free with Amazon Prime. The Johnson Box could communicate that the offer is for 3 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for free.

The opening sentence is not grammatically correct. It opens with “As a valued Amazon Prime member, we have a special offer for you:” This is an incorrect use of a dangling modifier. The opening phrase “as a valued Amazon Prime member” describes “you,” the customer -- not “we,” the company. The independent clause that begins with “we” does not match the opening phrase, which lacks a subject. While typical customers reading the letter might not remember grammar rules taught in high school, they might subconsciously notice that the sentence feels clunky, which detracts attention from the message. Keeping the message intact, a better opening would be:

“As a valued Amazon Prime member, you are eligible for a special offer:”
or, perhaps,
“As a valued Amazon Prime member, you can enjoy this special offer:” 

The complete value proposition of the low price is hidden in the Disclosure on the back. I would be forthright and mention upfront that the cost is under $8 a month after the third month.

The letter mentions the feature of being “ad free” a couple times (with varying use of hyphens). This could be brought up a level by messaging the benefit, i.e. “Listen to music non-stop, without interruptions.”

While the letter opens with a personal salutation, the closing is from “Amazon Music Team.” A truly sincere closing would be from Bob Bowen, Worldwide Head of Music, or even Jeff Bezos.

The letter includes supporting messages on the back. The front of the letter could use a message referring to the back of the letter to learn more.

Amazon Music Unlimited Marketing Letter
Back of letter

On the back of the letter, the Call to Action appears twice; however, it is easily lost. In one location, it is almost as small as the Disclosure copy. It could be larger and positioned below the Disclosure without being distracting.

The front of the letter mentions “Limited time only.” It fails to mention how limited the offer is. The offer expiration date is buried in the Disclosure on the back. The problem with this approach is two-fold:

  1. The implied need for immediate action is lost, because the customer doesn’t know by when to take action. In other words, it’s easy for the customer to say, “I’ll take care of this later,” then forget about it.

  2. If the offer truly expires on the offer expiration date, and the customer attempts to sign up after the offer expires, the customer will be unhappy from the experience of missing out on the promotion. That dissatisfied customer would view Amazon less positively -- perhaps taking out their frustration by shopping less or even cancelling their Prime membership.

Simple Envelope


Below is a rewrite of the front of the letter, with a bit more focus on product benefits. If Amazon likes the rewrite, I am willing to accept a personally signed thank-you letter.

Dear <Customer Name>,

Would you like to enjoy access to millions of songs, anytime, without interruption? Then here is an offer for Amazon Prime members like you: 3 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for FREE.

Sign up today to get unlimited access to more than 70 million songs. Listen ad-free from your home or mobile phone anytime with offline listening and unlimited skips. With so many new releases and thousands of playlists and stations available, we are sure to have your favorite tunes ready for your delight. In fact, with Amazon Music Unlimited, you can even control your music hands-free with Alexa, included in the Amazon Music mobile app and Amazon Echo devices.

BENEFITS OF AMAZON MUSIC UNLIMITED

Ö        Unlimited anytime access to more than 70 million tunes

Ö        Listen to music non-stop, without interruptions

Ö        Enjoy music anywhere, online or offline

Ö        Skip as much as you like 

Ö        Hands-free listening with Alexa

I’m so sure you’ll like Amazon Music Unlimited, I’m offering it to you for FREE for 3 months. After that, your subscription will renew for only $7.99 a month. You can cancel anytime.

This is a limited time offer, so visit amazon.com/trynow to sign up today.

Sincerely, 

[signature]

Bob Bowen

Worldwide Head of Music

P.S. This offer is good only through <expiration date>, so be sure to review the information on the back of this letter and visit amazon.com/trynow to sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited today.

Lessons:
  1. Use correct grammar.
  2. Your benefits sell your product, so communicate them.
  3. Ensure that your Call to Action is easy to find.
  4. If your offer has an expiration date, don’t bury it.
  5. A personalized letter should be personally signed.
  6. When your brand covers multiple products in a customer relationship, an experience with one product can impact the entire relationship.
  7. Don’t just ignore the back of the letter -- you can both sides of a page to make your sale.

10/23/2011

PayPal: Great for payments, Fail for mail

Blind envelopes sometimes offset lack of known brand to improve open rate
I recently received a letter in a blind outer envelope. The only hint of the mailer is the postage indicia from "LFS, Inc." The inside of the letter describes my opportunity to pay for some purchases over time with Bill Me Later® because I am a "Continental" customer. 

This letter has several Fails for Creative:
  • Copy is full-justified, making it difficult to read.
  • All copy is the same font size, including the 9-line disclosure. The only use of boldface is for required legal copy. This makes the letter impossible for a customer to scan.
  • The entire letter is one color, with a logo that appears to be produced on a dot matrix printer.
  • The call to action is difficult to comprehend. Is it to request an account as mentioned in the first paragraph, place an order with a merchant as mentioned in the third paragraph, or go to their website?
  • The word "on-line" is hyphenated. While this is grammatically acceptable, it isn’t a stylistically common usage in consumer communications, potentially distracting readers.
  • The offer is good through "December 05, 202011." A date before the 10th of a month should not have a zero in it, and "202011" is not a real year. Proofread your materials!
  • Every mention of Bill Me Later® includes a registered trademark in superscript. Legally, the registered trademark is required only in a company's first mention in body copy. Also, superscripted text interrupts eye flow and should generally be avoided.
  • Some of the copy is pedestrian. For example, in the third paragraph the customer is asked to place an order for "an amount not exceeding your pre-approved amount." Huh?
  • The letter has a signatory but no signature. This further suggests that it is an impersonal form letter and the company is not caring of the customer.
Hard to scan + Hard to read + Hard to understand = Hard to believe
On the whole, a letter like this will fail to inspire consumer confidence or interest in Bill Me Later. It is a challenge to believe that something is "convenient and safe!" when the sales letter is poorly written and has errors.  Even letters from the federal government look better than this.

PayPal could improve a one-page solicitation letter in many ways, including:
  • Adding color to the package.
  • Positively branding the envelope as from PayPal, a trusted brand, with the PayPal logo.
  • Using balanced and varied typeface sizes.
  • Adding a Johnson Box.
  • Including subheads before paragraphs.
  • Italicizing relevant URLs.
  • Not going into detail about why I was preselected, or at least being correct about the company name.
  • Using full dollar amounts and avoid decimals, e.g. "$5,000" rather than "$5,000.00".
  • Including a signature with the signatory.
  • Proofreading lettershop samples and verifying data field formats.

Lesson: There is so much wrong with this solo letter package that the lesson here is simple. Don't waste a valuable brand to send poor mail like PayPal did.

3/29/2010

Letters to friends should be easy to read

This solicitation for donations from Seven Acres is basically typical. It includes a branded outer envelope, request for money, simple response form and business reply envelope (not scanned).  The text of the letter talks to the history of the assisted living residence, the reason it is important to the community, and why the recipient should donate.

There are different ways to improve the content of the letter to improve persuasiveness, however I find myself motivated to write about simply the layout of the letter. The creative Fail is that the letter is hard to read. Simply put, it is not scanable.




• If you glance at the letter quickly, you will see two phrases: “Friends Campaign” and “Friends”. These are the words that are in boldface italics buried in the body copy. These are key words, but not the only ones a reader should take away from a request for money.

• The paragraphs are full justified. This makes the text difficult to read. Only newspapers and legal documents should be full justified. A successful direct mail letter will have text that is flush to the left column, e.g. left justified.

• The paragraphs are too long, especially the opening paragraph. (Long-form paragraphs can be successfully used in letters, but not one-page letters.) Lacking a Johnson Box or some other attention grabber to open the letter, the opening paragraph should be no longer than 2 sentences or 2 lines. It could be as simple as “Your support is desperately needed to help the elderly here in Houston.” Or consider leveraging the friends theme: “Houston area elderly citizens need a friend. Will you please help?”

The issue of timing is minor but also relevant. The letter is dated “February 2010” however it arrived in home in mid-March. The date on this type of letter does not add value under normal circumstances, and loses value when it arrives much later than dated.

My recommendation to the generous Friends Co-chairs at Seven Acres is to pick up a copy of Breakthrough Fundraising Letters by Alan Sharpe.

Learning: Your letter should be easily scanable so the reader can quickly ascertain the purpose. When using a typical letter format, always left-justify body copy. Don’t overload paragraph length on a short letter.