Order forms, also known as response devices, are critical components to the success of your campaign. One of the primary reasons some direct mail pieces bring in sub-par results is that the order form fails to follow tested and proven direct response rules.
And in this business, ignoring the rules can cost you.
After having doing hundreds of tests with my ad agency at CDMG, I discovered that the length and setup of your order form affects your response. Many clients come to us with a small order form that looks something like this:
And here’s the other part of the form:
That’s a good start, but it’s not complete. An oversized response device is a more effective choice. While we have sometimes used order forms that are 8” x 14”, most are 8.5” x 11”. Both sides are used, and a coupon with a certificate border appears at the bottom.
Take a look at this example from one of my recent direct mail packages:
This type of order form produces a much higher response rate. Note how the back of the order form features copy that reinforces how the offer will benefit your prospect.
In a sense, an oversize response device takes the place of a brochure because it can also use graphics that wouldn‘t be appropriate for the sales letter itself. Here’s an example of an effective BRB order form:
Here are 4 elements your order form must absolutely have:

  1. A clear call to action. Even if your customers ultimately choose to response online or through an 800 number, the order form is your chance to clearly spell out your offer, guarantee, discount premiums, and the most important benefits—all in one spot. Clearly outline what your prospect will receive by responding to your offer and why they simply cannot wait.


  1. Easy instructions. Your customers must be told exactly how to fill out your order form. If it is not easy to understand, he or she will lose interest, and you will lose the sale.


  1. Professional artwork. Remember, your prospect will judge your product or service based on the quality of that response device.


  1. A positive acceptance statement. This powerful copy technique engages your prospect and reinforces how he or she will benefit from your product. For example, an investment newsletter I created said:

YES! I want more opportunities to be on the winning side of today’s market. I’d love to add ot my profits with your Wall Street Stock Forecaster picks that could bring returns of 100% to 300% or more.
Please begin my no-risk subscription to the only source of your huge safe-profit strategies, Wall Street Stock Forecaster, for the term I’ve selected below.
Simply saying ‘Check this box for a one-year subscription’ will do nothing to help you make the sale.
Here’s another good example from a local charity’s holiday campaign:
Yes! I want to help feed hungry and homeless people this Thanksgiving season. Enclosed is my gift of:
$27.60 to help feed 15 people
$36.80 to help feed 20 people
$_____ to help feed as many people as possible
Bottom Line: Your response device can help your response … or hurt your response. Be sure you’re not depressing your campaign results by committing the blunder of a poor response device.
To find out whether your order form follows the rules or veers off track, give me a call at (310) 212-5727, or email me your response device at craig@cdmginc.com. I’ll give you a FREE critique and let you know what you’re doing right. … and what is sending you into the danger zone of low response and missed profits.