During the dot-com era, we often heard: “The web changes everything.” Probably originated by investment bankers hyping internet IPOs, the phrase nonetheless took hold with marketing people who’ve come to think that 140 characters is just about the attention span of the American consumer.
Like much “conventional wisdom,” it just ain’t so. Take a close look at a page on Amazon.com (or any other highly successful website). There’s a ton of information on every book (or other product); on the author; comments from other customers; suggestions for books on related topics; etc.
It’s not all in one long column, of course: it’s carefully organized so graphics and short snippets of text let you click for details on what you’re interested in. But organization is also key to the 3-4 page classic direct mail letter. There, we use callouts, subheads, kickers, P.S., inserts. On the web, we use hypertext. But the principle is the same: give potential buyers the information they want and need to make a decision to buy.
Of course, you have to quickly grab attention. Of course, you can’t overwhelm people up front. But we direct marketers have always had only a limited time to make our pitch. In direct mail, we depend on the envelope blurb or headline to catch the potential buyer before he reaches the wastebasket. On the web, you keep key copy above the fold for the same reason.
But once an interested prospect starts to read – and you really don’t care about anybody else – give them everything they need to take the next step toward a sale. Now, while you have their attention. You may never get a second chance.