How to Evaluate Direct Marketing Creative: Our 5-Point Checklist

How do you know if your direct marketing creative — the integration of copy and design ­­– is up to the task of connecting with the target audience and doing its part to drive a successful campaign? Nothing—no direct mail piece, email, website or social media ad—makes its way out the door without careful evaluation.

  • “It’s pretty” doesn’t necessarily equal “It’s effective.”
  • “That’s such a cool idea” doesn’t always translate to “It’ll resonate with our target market.”
  • “Wow, that really pops!” doesn’t mean “It’s on strategy.”
  • “I wouldn’t respond to that” doesn’t mean “It isn’t right for the target audience.”

Our creative team, which consists of art directors, designers, and copywriters, approach each project with a clean slate—and fresh ideas. But they also take a number of other factors into account, including the client’s objectives, brand standards, campaign strategy, and budget. When it comes time to assess their conceptual executions, we use the following 5-point checklist. Give it a try!

1. You Are Being Objective
The cardinal rule for creative evaluation is: Don’t let your personal preferences get in the way of good judgment. So let’s back up a moment and make sure you—the person appraising the work—are in a neutral, open-minded state.

While a little of your “gut” is always involved in assessing creative, it’s important not pass judgment on what appeals to you—unless you are part of the target audience. So before you start evaluating, take a moment to place yourself in the mindset of your target audience. Base your decisions on what is most likely to resonate with them.

2. It Speaks To Your Target Market’s Needs
The primary question to ask yourself at this point is will your audience “care” when they see it? We can’t stress enough that your direct response marketing creative needs to sync up completely with your target market’s needs: their pain points, their preferences, and their values.

The creative needs to stress benefits – what’s in it for me – and using product or service features to support the benefits. Ensure that the creative uses powerful words that will be meaningful to the audience so the message connects with them. Is the copy personalized and focused on the reader (not your company)? The offer, too, should reflect your target market’s ambitions or goals. And the design, from its overall style to use of visual elements (colors, images, and layout), should appeal to them on both emotional and intellectual levels.

Uncover more insights in Who, Me? 3 Best Practices for Direct Marketing Personalization.

3. It Engages and Motivates the Desired Action
Now that you’re looking at the creative in front of you, think fast: do you like it? It should grab your attention in a pleasing, compelling way. Remember, it will share a mailbox, email inbox, web page, or social media feed with competing ads and content.

From there, consider the experience it creates. Does the message, after drawing you in, compel you read through the piece? Does it take you from one step to the next until you reach the call-to-action?

As part of a direct response marketing campaign, your creative must clearly state the offer—and repeat it—so there’s no question what you want the reader to do. Are you making it easy and uncomplicated for them to respond? If not, your team can make the necessary changes. It’s essential to get this part right!

4. It’s “On Strategy”
Turn back to the original creative direction, to the document that spells out exactly what’s supposed to “happen” by the end of a successful campaign. What is it you need to accomplish? Are you looking for more newsletter subscribers or top of the funnel sales leads? Something else?

This makes a difference to the creative materials you end up sending out to your audience. Your direct marketing creative’s net takeaway needs to support the specific objective you’re aiming for; otherwise, it stands little chance of performing up to expectations.

5. It Supports Your Brand
The direct marketing messages your customers receive are sent from your brand’s persona. Think of your creative as the outfit it’s wearing to the party and the conversation it’s having with the partygoers. Does it tell a story that’s consistent with your company’s values? Is it talking to the “right” people?  Make sure the design is consistent with established brand standards.

In Creating A Brand Persona That Connects With Your Customers, we dig into how your brand’s personality impacts your campaign messages and helps steer the direction of your direct marketing creative.

Contact us to learn more about developing direct response marketing creative that supports your objectives and generates leads.