Faking It: True and Digital Handwriting Fonts Boost Response Rates

By | April 29, 2011

In today’s world of personalization, we’re all focused on data and relevance (as we should be). But there is another form of relevance that can be overlooked: the idea (if fleeting) that someone actually knows you. That points to handwriting.

There is a form of personalization that uses either real or simulated handwriting to create the impression that the letter is from someone you know. It’s similar to when nonprofits ask someone if they are willing to accept a mailing list of people on their block or in their neighborhood to which they send out donation requests in the form of personalized cards. The difference is that marketers pay individuals (often stay-at-home moms, students, or retirees) to do it.

Click here to read about a highly effective example.

It’s an effective technique that is proven, on its own, to boost response rates. But it doesn’t work well at high volumes. Enter the use of handwriting fonts, which simulate the effect. There are those who claim that these fonts look indistinguishable from real handwriting. I haven’t found that to be the case, but as long as a reasonable percentage of the population agrees, it works.

A recent LinkedIn discussion included positive testimonials from those who have used ither using “live” hand-addressing or a handwriting font.

I have several clients that have tested hand-written fonts and live hand-addressed packages. In every case, hand-addressing out performed standard personalization. The main thing to consider is the increased cost. It may drive up your cost/piece but the impact it will have on your response rate may out weigh the increase. Its best to test, and back test prior to rolling out.

— Christopher Duron, Marketing & Sales Executive at Peake DeLancey (Washington, D.C.)

I have had several clients use hand-written fonts and actual hand-written addresses with good results. Either will outperform standard addressing. The one test result that I found most valuable is that a good hand-written font will perform as well or even better than actual hand-written addressing with the added benefit of costing less. We have partners that we work with who have great service on hand-written fonts for volume mailings. There are multiple fonts available, some more feminine and some more masculine. For your better donors, using this strategy a couple of times a year may be a great investment.

—Becky Odum, VP Strategic Services at Barton Cotton – Fundraising Division

We have conducted several case studies that prove hand-addressed mail outperforms mechanically addressed mail almost 3 to 1. In fact, these case studies revealed that on average hand-addressed mail gets opened and read 99.2% of time, whereas mechanically addressed mail only gets opened and read an average of 34% of the time.

— Ted Lonnberg, VP, Think Ink Marketing, Inc. (Eugene, OR)

There are reported to be more than 1,000 handwriting fonts on the market. While hand addressing doesn’t replace a good message, quality list, and great offer, it is something you might want to consider adding as part of your personalization toolbox.

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