Secrets of Direct Mail Copy

Most of content marketing deals with mediums such as blogs, articles, and white papers.  This kind of writing is more “latent” in nature – after all, most of the time people interact with a blog by visiting a certain website and reading what the writer has to say.  Blogs don’t “go” to the consumer.  Rather, the consumer goes to the blog.  Articles are the same way, as are white papers, videos, podcasts – they all require the customer to take the first step in order to acquire the material.

This is, of course, why Hubspot has coined the term “inbound marketing” for the majority of content marketing.  It’s all about drawing the customer in, rather than reaching out and trying to bludgeon them over the head with a marketing campaign.  It’s extremely successful, and the ROI on content marketing is incredible when compared to most traditional marketing methods.

But what about direct mail?  Direct mail is a form of content marketing that has a bit more of a go-gettem attitude than blogs, whitepapers, and articles.  After all, a customer doesn’t go to a website to download direct mail.  They sign up for the service and then the direct mail goes to the customer.  It’s a little more active.  Think of it as the Scrappy Doo of the Scooby Doo content marketing pantheon.

What is Direct Mail?

Direct mailing can be done both as an online medium and through the actual physical mail (remember what “snail mail” looks like).  Now, if you’re going to embark on a direct mail campaign – particularly on the internet – you need to get permission from the sender first, otherwise it becomes spam.  Spam is not an effective email marketing campaign – in fact, it’s a good way to get very unpopular with a lot of people very fast.

The fact that the consumer needs to take the first step to join your direct mail campaign is what makes direct mail still considered part of inbound marketing, even though you are sending marking material to the customer, rather than waiting for the customer to come to your site.  It can also be a very effective way to stay in touch with clients and potential clients – many businesses offer promotions through their direct mail campaigns, which is a great way to join.  (Offering discounts is a great way to do anything!)

But if you want your direct mail campaign to be effective, you’ll need to put the right words in the right places.  Just like there’s a method to the madness when it comes to blogging for business, direct mail also requires a special touch.  Read on for my tried and true tips on how to direct mail like you directly mean it!

Direct Mail Tips

Do your research.  Want to know what works?  Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that you start by taking a look into your own inbox.  You’ll likely see a flood of direct mail campaigns that you already receive, and you can take inspiration from their words and their design.  Not part of any direct mail campaigns?  I suggest you sign up for one or to from a service/product that you like.  See how they present themselves and what they say.

Strong headlines matter.  Check out this article from PS Print, who does a lot of work with snail-mail based direct mail.  Your headline is what is going to grab the customer’s attention.  I suggest you stay away from phrases like “BEST DEAL EVER,” because consumers are skeptical.  Also, having extremely salesy headlines is a bulwark of the dreaded spam message (go ahead, click into your spam folder.  You’ll see what I mean), and you don’t want to get mixed up with that crowd.  On the other hand, having a headline like “Widget Company” is not going to entice anybody to open the envelope or the email.  Something like, “You’ll Save $400 A Year With This Great Widget Offer!” is salesy and also enticing.

Repeat yourself – but briefly.  Target Marketing Mag reminds us that it’s important to identify the main benefit point of our product/service and then repeat it throughout the body of the email or letter.  You never know where a reader will look first – though, if your audience is English-speaking, it’s a good bet they’ll start at the upper left corner of the page or email – and you want the purpose of your email to be clear.  On the other hand, make sure not to go on and on – people aren’t likely to be willing to spend 10 minutes reading all of your sales copy.  Be brief, be helpful, be repetitive.

Call to action.  Call to action.  Call to action. In case that isn’t clear enough, every direct mailing piece should have an obvious call to action.  Allison Media Group understands this – it’s one of their top three tips for direct mail.  A call to action is what the reader is invited to do after they’re finished consuming the material – be it sign up for a coupon, click through to a blog, or share the information with their friends.  The call to action should be very clear – after all, you’re sending the reader information directly to their mailbox because you want them to do something!

With these tips in mind, you’re off to a good start with a direct mail campaign.  Another thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 500 company or just starting out – a well-calibrated direct mail campaign can benefit you no matter where you are as a company.

Do you use direct mail advertising?  What are your tips for success?

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Laura Hancock is a co-owner of She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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