One of the drawbacks of freelancing is the “black hole” effect.
That’s where you write copy, ship it to your clients, and outside of a “this looks great” e-mail, you never hear of it again.
No response rates. No kudos for your witty subhead. No criticism for an obtuse reference. No feedback from sales about the quality of the leads.
Just a check.
In traditional non-response media (brochures, branding ads, static Web sites) that’s always been part of the game. Sadly, it evolved a whole generation of copywriters who were a lot better at making clients happy than selling product.
Still, in today’s data-rich marketing environment, my clients often know immediately what’s working and what isn’t, yet â€“ because of the black hole effect â€“ feedback is still pretty rare.
It’s a crippling problem.
Without response data, it’s impossible to evolve your work. Given how focused today’s marketing has become, it’s critical to know what’s flying â€“ and what’s going down in flames.
I’m writing all this because of yesterday’s conversation with a client.
She sent an instant message ten minutes after a broadcast e-mail I’d written dropped on the Internet (she was seeded). In a high-end, competitive market â€“ where a single good lead can make a campaign profitable (not that I’m willing to settle), we received 30 leads in the first five minutes.
I was flying.
Then she dropped the bomb. An e-newsletter sponsorship I’d written two weeks ago for the same product launch had bombed.
She wasn’t upset â€“ simply said the offer had probably gone stale. But I was left to wonder.
I wondered why she hadn’t mentioned the e-newsletter mess earlier. In light of the low response, I would have adjusted my copy.
But if I had, we might not have scored with yesterday’s e-mail (responses was excellent, conversions were good, and the lead quality looks excellent).
In this case, ignorance really was bliss. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder about the dangers of ignoring hard-earned intuition in favor of one set of numbers — numbers that might be skewing to unknown, unseen forces.
In any case, I’m doing something I haven’t done in years. I’m making tickler notes in my contact software reminding me to contact clients a couple weeks after the job is done to ask about the results.
Most won’t have data available. But some will, and what I learn will go right into the data bank.
Speaking of banks, I’m drawing heavily on my “energy bank” to finish up an agonizingly long list of projects before heading off on a ten-day vacation (starting Monday), which includes four Internet-free days backpacking around the lesser-traveled bits of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Feedback’s good, but recharging my brain is even better. Keep writing, Tom Chandler.
[tags]copy, copywriter, freelance, freelancer, freelance copywriter[/tags]