Marketing is about a call to action. You deliver a message that requires response. Order this widget now! Take advantage of this special offer today! Don't delay!
You must make it simple for the customer to act on the message. If you're selling a product then you want them to place an order immediately. If you're promoting an event or a concept you want them to inquire further.
Every obstacle you put in their way, however insignificant, will cut the response rate. It's a basic principle of sales - the longer it takes for the customer to commit, the more likely they'll walk away. There are precious few products which are so important that the customer will make every effort to secure them.
Telephone numbers are a great way to get a quick reaction. 0800 numbers are ideal as the caller knows it will cost them nothing but time. But people are becoming wary of other non-geographic numbers such as 0845, because the true cost of calling is often unclear.
However, you need to make sure that the caller gets more than an automated message telling them your office is closed, or a menu system they can't immediately comprehend.
If your marketing material is online, such as a website or email, you have more choice over instant response paths. Some people prefer to use the phone so keep that option open where possible. Embedded links are another great way of making access really easy.
I've lost count of the number of times I've seen statements saying 'if you want to do this get in touch with us' on a website or email, without the words being used as a link to a contact form. Instead the reader is expected to hunt down contact information from elsewhere on the page, or worse, find it somewhere else altogether. That's a guaranteed way to lose some customers, if not all of them.
When you're putting together your marketing campaign and materials put yourself in the customer's shoes. Think about where they will be when they hear your message and what communication tools they will have available to respond. How easy can you make it for them to get through?
Andrew Knowles is a freelance copywriter and small business supporter.