5 Tips for Captivating Direct Mail Copywriting

Posted by Dave Olesen on Jun 19, 2018 5:50:30 PM

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If you’re like most people, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when given the task of writing a direct mail marketing piece.  Whether you’re writing a business letter or adding text to a card, a few basic principles make a big difference.  Direct mail copywriting doesn't have to be difficult or stressful Following are five tips will help you write like a pro and increase your response rates.  

1. Know Your Audience.

The single most important thing you can do to improve your messaging and increase response rates is to know your audience.  There are actually two parts to this so let’s examine each one separately.

  • Know who you’re mailing to. The biggest mistake you can make is to send direct mail to people who have no interest in your product or service.  It sounds so simple but this mistake is made every single day across America.  Even when it comes to sending to existing customers, it’s vital to have a good sense that those receiving your card or letter are likely to be interested in your product or service.  Every unopened letter and unexamined card lowers your return on investment so take the time to scrutinize your mailing list.  If you’re buying a mailing list, give good thought to your search criteria. 
  • Understand the difference between “speaking” and “talking.” One way to get your mind into the right conversational tone is to ask “Am I speaking to this audience or talking to them? What’s the difference you ask?  A lot.  We “speak” to people we don’t know very well.  Our language, both verbal and written, tends to be more formal and polite.  On the other hand, we “talk” to people we know.  The more familiar and deeper your relationship to people becomes, the more you can “talk” to them.  

At the core of “speaking” vs. “talking” is credibility with your target audience.  You’re more likely to be credible to strangers when you "speak" to them.  Don’t assume you can "talk" to them as if they are your friends because this may actually work against you.  There’s a double meaning to the phrase “never talk to strangers” when it comes to writing great direct mail copywriting.

 2. Present a Clear & Compelling Offer. 

If you want a great response, provide a great offer.  Great offers presented clearly help to build your brand.  Ideally, your offer should not have a lot of terms and conditions.  Offers with a mountain of terms and conditions disappoint.  If you must have conditions, consider this simple phrase:  “Conditions apply – call xxx-xxx-xxxx for details.”  Of course, this means you need to have someone available to speak with respondents but this also provides the opportunity to present benefits and further a relationship.     

 3. Create Urgency.

Offers should be for a limited time and this time should be clearly visible.  To increase the urgency, connect your offer to the time limit.” For example, “Save 10%” is good but it is better to write “Save 10% through Friday Only” or “Through Friday Only:  Save 10%.”   In addition, create a “call to action” and use action words and dates or times.  For example, “call now” or “visit today.”  These phrases help people create a mental "to do" list.  Notice the following compound use of these two elements to create urgency:  "Save 10% Through Friday.  Visit today." Learn more about crafting compelling marketing calls to action!

When offering something free, focus on benefits.  Offering something free is helpful as an offer only when the perceived value is increased to the point where people truly want it.  Ask yourself: “Why would someone want this?  What value does it bring to people?”  Take a few minutes and write down specific reasons why people would want what you’re giving away and you’ll be well on your way to creating urgency and higher response rates.

4. Write Succinctly.

Too much copy can lower response rates.  This is especially true when sending cards.  With marketing cards, it’s vital to have an eye catching visual that works with your copy.  The only exception to this is if you are sending an official notice.  Too many words on a card makes it less interesting.  What’s more, the human brain “chunks” information in an effort to facilitate memory.  The “Rule of Seven (plus or minus two)” is  important in direct mail copywriting.  When people need to track or remember more than seven items, the brain attempts to create a schema.  This is work.  In public speaking, great presenters help audiences by providing three or four main points.  This is helpful to remember for direct mail copywriting.  Your goal is to grab attention so your offer is clearly understood, create urgency and receive a positive response.  Keep your copy to the point.  Every sentence should have a clear purpose. 

 5. Make it Easy to Respond.

Would you like people to call your business?  Tell them and tell them clearly.  Don’t confuse it and definitely don’t hide your telephone number in a paragraph or block of text.  Would you like them to visit your website?  In today's world, avoid using "http://" in front of your website domain name.  Website browsers complete this so don't confuse with non-relevant technical text.  Try it.  You'll see. 

We hope these direct mail copywriting tips help you.  For more help, download our free Direct Mail Checklist now.  It's a great resource that will help you with your next campaign. 


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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Direct Mail Marketing, Direct Mail Tips