We’ve written a lot about how to optimize your brand’s direct mail campaigns. From the dimensions and design of the various types of direct mail to the precise day you send your mail pieces, our “tips and tricks” work. But what about the sales letter itself? Is there a formula for writing direct mail copy? Yes! Keep reading to learn how to create an effective direct mail sales letter for your brand.


Determine the Goal of Your Direct Mail Piece


an effective direct mail sales letterBefore you start writing direct mail copy, narrow your thought process to the reason behind your print marketing campaign. Since you’re likely selling a product or service, take one aspect and expand upon it. Focus on a benefit of your product/service rather than a feature. Your customers care more about how your brand can help them than how prestigious or impressive it is—and they want to know specifically. What can your brand do for them?


A great way to get started is with an eye-catching headline that grabs your readers’ attention. There’s no need to overthink this part. Just make sure it’s a clear, concise, easy-to-digest value proposition. Here are a few things to consider:


  • Know your audience. Understanding who you’re writing to is a foundational rule of copywriting.
  • Use emotional words. Create a sense of urgency and passion. The Advanced Marketing Institute offers a Headline Analyzer that will forecast your letter’s emotional marketing value. “You’ll Feel Great Saving $20” scored high marks. Try some of your own and see how you rate.
  • Use numbers to grab your readers’ attention. If your recipients scan your letter (and they probably will), their eyes will naturally navigate to numbers. Use them to your advantage.
  • A/B test different headlines. Try a couple of different “best” headlines to see which one works best.


Naturally, you’ll have to adjust the messages to fit your business, but if you follow these simple rules, you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective direct mail sales letter—and achieving a high level of direct mail success.


Writing Direct Mail Copy: Inform and Educate


Your current customers already know what your brand is about, but if you’re sending a direct mail campaign to new consumers, use the opportunity to educate and inform them about your product or service. Just don’t go off on a tangent when writing direct mail copy. Be brief with the amount of information while providing enough data to highlight what you’re selling. Use one talking point per sentence and consider adding bullets to show the benefits. Another option is to tell consumers what sets your business apart from your competitors. Why should they do business with your brand instead of a rival company? Be sure to use common consumer pain points to stay on track with benefits over features.


Feature One Call to Action and One Offer


call to actionYour CTA is what’s going to tell your reader what to do, so don’t overcomplicate it. For example, don’t ask your customers to visit a website and stop into a retail store. It may seem like a good thing to provide options, but not when you’re trying to create an effective direct mail sales letter. You should determine which one you want them to do in advance and stick with it. Make sure it’s an option you can measure and one that you know your readers will most likely do.


Just as you’re going to stick with one CTA, you should also only provide one offer when you’re writing direct mail copy. Make it a simple task to redeem, like scanning a QR code or visiting a provided URL. Include a deadline to create a sense of urgency. That directly leads to direct mail success. If the recipient thinks they’re going to miss out on a deal, they’re more likely to act on your offer.


Direct Mail Design: White Space is Your Friend


If we’re going to overemphasize anything in this post, we’re going to tell you, again and again, to avoid including too much information when writing direct mail copy. You don’t need the entire contents of your website in your direct mail campaign. That’s where white space comes in handy. Give your letter room to breathe. It makes it easier for your customers to read and it draws attention to the most important parts, like your headline and CTA. You’ve heard the adage “Less is more.” That’s an apt point of emphasis for an effective direct mail sales letter.


Include Some Testimonials About Your Brand


testimonialsIf you feel you need to do a bit of convincing, remember those positive comments and reviews you’ve received. Testimonials are powerful influencers. Statistics show that approximately 97% of consumers read reviews before buying a product or service. So it wouldn’t hurt to include some praise in your sales letter. Here are a few areas to focus on when you’re considering what types of testimonials to include:


  • Customer loyalty quotes.
  • Natural language from letters (make sure you get permission from your customers first).
  • Praise for your customer support staff.
  • Positive social media comments and endorsements.


Take a proactive approach by showing off some of your best reviews to offset the text portion of your letter. Assemble them together in one spot or separate the body of your letter with these praiseworthy pull quotes.


Prove Your Brand’s Value with Statistics


We talked earlier about numbers. They’re attention-grabbing markers for an effective direct mail sales letter, especially for those recipients who scan your messages. In addition to using numbers to highlight prices and discounts, you can use them to emphasize relevant statistics. Is your brand #1 for any reason? How many satisfied customers did you acquire this year? Maybe you did something great for a social cause and you can attach a number to it. Consider anything that attracts your reader’s eyes. Ultimately, they’ll be interested enough to read what’s around the numbers and really dive into the message behind your direct mail campaign.


Variable Data Printing: Use Personalized Imagery


Last but not least, don’t forget to include images and/or graphics when writing direct mail copy. A strong photo will likely be the first thing your customers see, so it should be relevant to the message and personalized for the greatest effect. Variable data printing allows you to change the images to speak to each customer individually. For example, if you’re a veterinarian, you could personalize marketing campaigns by sending appointment reminders to your customers with images of their pet—if you have a photo on file. Another option would be to include an image of a cat or dog, depending upon what kind of animal your clients have. It’s a simple but important aspect of creating an effective direct mail sales letter.


Print and Ship Your Direct Mail with an Experienced Provider


All the tips we provided will undoubtedly help you to create an effective direct mail sales letter. But perhaps the most important step you can take is to hire a team of helping hands—like a direct mail fulfillment services partner. MSP has built a strong reputation as one of the best direct mail providers in the country. We combine over 65 years of print marketing experience plus the latest tech so you can get the results your brand is looking for. To learn more about how we can help you create an effective direct mail sales letter and campaign, contact an MSP representative today.

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