Winning Direct Mail Marketing Tips: Creating the Best Copy for Your Direct Mail Campaign

November 9, 2017 Ellie Behling

 

A woman grabbing mail from her mailbox | RR Donnelley

Presentation is important for any direct mail piece, but without good copy, your enticing visual means nothing. Compelling writing sets the tone for your offer, allows for the reader to identify your brand voice, builds consumer confidence, and delivers instructions.

Before you fire off a direct mail campaign, here are a few general tips to make sure your copy will effectively resonate with your readers.

 

These tips come from the 101 Insider Tips on Direct Mail

Keep it to the point (not to be confused with “short”). Not all direct mail requires a letter, but a letter is the primary vehicle to convey a big idea via mail. In fact, most direct marketing professionals would bet that a longer letter will outpull a shorter letter in a direct mail package. (Of course, this is not always the case and, like all things in direct marketing, you should test what works for you.)

Letters can be effective if all of your points are clear and concise. When a reader opens your letter they instantly scan for the high points: letterhead, salutation, signature, postscript. Maximize the impact of your offer in the first paragraph of your letter, and then use readable subheads to draw them in.

Make your point fast. If your reader is still interested, they will drill in for supporting arguments.

Make your point fast. If your reader is still interested, they will drill in for supporting arguments.

Keep it simple. Use short sentences, easy words, and short paragraphs. Never go over four sentences in a paragraph.

The opening paragraph of a letter or brochure should not exceed 1.5 lines, and your second paragraph should have no more than five lines. When formatting, use wider margins, indentations, and spaces between paragraphs.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Too often, for the sake of brevity, or a misguided concern for the patience of our prospects, we never say something twice in a letter or mailing piece.

The fact is, you have to say it again and again to catch the casual reader. Repeat your offer. Repeat your benefits. Do it again. And one more time!

Repeat your offer. Repeat your benefits. Do it again. And one more time!

Sketch it out. To make sure you have the best copy possible, you should always write and finalize the copy before you even task a designer to work on the format. A good writer will provide a wireframe of how the copy has been laid out on a mailing piece.

When you write a direct mail letter, sketch it on a piece of paper before you even write the words.

Read it out loud. It’s easy to appreciate how text looks, but actually reading it out loud is sometimes the best way to truly make sure the message sells. Read your envelope copy out loud. Does it sound right? Now read the letter and reply form out loud. Do the different components all connect logically?

Convince the reader. The most convincing sales arguments rely on disarming buyer skepticism with third-party opinion and documentation. The technique of “feel-felt-found” includes:

  • I know how you feel.
  • I’ve felt the same way myself.
  • But here’s what I’ve found.

Another method is FABs (Feature-Advantage-Benefit): “With this feature… you get this advantage… which delivers this benefit.”

Remember: The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain. It’s not what you could enjoy that motivates; it’s what you stand to lose right now if you don’t act. Make sure your copy reminds the reader of the downside of remaining with the status quo.

Make sure your copy reminds the reader of the downside of remaining with the status quo.

Push the envelope. A blank outer envelope offers no expectations, and whatever is inside could disappoint. When coming up with teaser copy for an envelope, even difficult subjects can present a big idea, reminding the reader of what they could lose if they don’t act.

For example, a direct mail piece about laser eye surgery could say: “Thread a needle … count the freckles on your child’s nose … never squint at the TV again … details inside.”

Another technique is to use a quiz tactic. A well-known health charity asks the reader: “Which is better for you — the bagel or the bran muffin? Surprising answer inside.”

Personalize. Personalizing your communication isn’t only effective — consumers are beginning to expect it. This goes way beyond “name-sprinkling” throughout the letter. Consider data-driven messaging to tailor the copy to your prospect’s demographic and geography.

Personalizing your communication isn’t only effective — consumers are beginning to expect it.

Focus on the offer. In our rush to exhibit our best writing style, our best graphic design, our best format, and the credibility of our company, we might forget the appeal of the offer.

Above all things in direct mail marketing, keep your offer foremost in the consumer’s mind. The offer is what all other data points are related to.

To this end, start your offer on the outside of the envelope, give it top placement in your design, and devote at least half of your letter copy to the offer. Include a sell sheet, and carry the offer through to the reply form.

Looking for more direct mail marketing tips? Download the 101 Insider Tips on Direct Mail.

Contact us to discuss how direct mail marketing can deliver results. 

This post was originally published November 9, 2017.

 

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