Think of the last time you responded to a marketing communication. What made you do it? Was there an incentive, or a chance to win something? A good call to action (CTA) is a lot more than just a link. Very rarely will you get someone to follow your call to action by simply asking them.

In nearly 10 years of working with direct mail, I've found a few tips you can use to enhance your calls to action and get people to respond.

1. Use a Widget

In the marketing world, a unique element makes your message stand out among the other messages in the same medium. If we're talking direct mail, a widget means something that isn't paper. In the past, I have used car keys, credit cards, and casino chips. They add physical weight to the mailer and help it stand out from other items in a mailbox. It draws attention to the message, and it gets the recipient to engage.

Widgets work online, too. Rather than a standard lead-capture form, add an interactive game, well-designed imagery, or even unique colors to make your communication stand out. The ultimate goal is to make it look different from your competitors' marketing and keep the consumer's attention long enough to take the desired action.

2. Offer Prizes

I believe in the idea of reciprocity. When you are looking to drive engagement, offering prizes is a great solution. If you give consumers something for engaging with you, they are more likely to return the favor. For example, if you won a TV at a furniture store, where are you most likely to go when it is time to buy your next couch or bedroom set? Part of human nature is that we tend to take care of each other. When someone does something for us, we reciprocate.

Offering prizes of some kind—like popular gift cards—can help you build a relationship with a consumer beyond just the CTA. Of course, you don't simply want to pay your consumers to interact with you. Put some thought into the prize and make sure you're still going to earn ROI on your marketing. If nothing else, give them an opportunity to win a prize: "For responding, your name will be entered to win a $100 gift card!"

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image of Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson is the vice-president of client services for PERQ, a marketing technology and promotions company that helps businesses attract consumers with incentives online and in-store.

Twitter: @DirectMailDiva