Along with the many benefits of direct mail marketing, it is also an opportunity for you to speak directly to your customers and potential customers. That’s undeniably valuable to your direct mail marketing campaign, but you need to remember that people are busy, so you need to make an immediate impression with your direct mail. Your chance to talk to your customers can easily turn into something that they ignore or worse, are annoyed by it.
So how do you stand out and create something that will interest your target audience and spur them into action?
One of the main ways to have a successful direct mail campaign is by designing a strong direct mail piece. Writing direct mail copy is part-science, part-art, and can be confusing. But this guide will go over some tips on how to write direct mail copy that can lead to increased customer engagement and sales.
Tips to Writing Better Copy
Direct mail copywriting is different from other forms of writing. Copy tries to persuade the reader into taking a specific action with the fewest words possible.
Often, we’re trying to persuade the reader to buy something, but that isn’t always the case. Some other examples of actions you may want your reader to take are:
- Signing up for an email list.
- Visiting your website.
- Referring a friend to your business.
- Attending a special event
- Checking out a new store opening
While it’s not all about sales, it is always goal-oriented. And although there is no one magic formula to writing copy that will ensure you achieve your goal, there are clear tips and best practices you can follow to enhance your copy and increase your response rate.
Direct Mail Copy Tip #1: Make Things Easy to Read
Even if you are a great writer, you need to adapt your writing to fit the style of the targeted direct mail copy. No one wants to feel as though they’re reading a novel when they receive a postcard or letter, and you have mere seconds to get your message across. Keeping content engaging and easy-to-read is one way to avoid alienating your target audience, or simply having them ignore you and move on to the rest of their mail.
Some ways to make your copy easier to read include:
- Keep things short – Have you ever been reading a book and flipped forward to see where the chapter ended? Or have you come up to a full-page paragraph and groaned in frustration?
Large blocks of text can be tiring to our eyes and make us tune out. Keep paragraphs sections short (around 3 to 4 sentences max) to keep a sense of movement to your copy. Likewise, keeping sentences concise will show the reader you aren’t wasting their time. That will encourage them to keep reading.
- Keep things simple – Copy is not the time to show off your knowledge of semicolons and em-dashes. Be direct with your sentences. Avoid tangents. This enhances the clarity of what you’re trying to say. It also helps you impart a sense of authority to your reader.
- Use bullet points and sub-headers – There’s a reason so much of the internet consists of lists. Bullet points and sub-headers work as signposts in your copy, directing your reader’s eyes to the most important takeaways and providing an easy-to-digest rhythm to your writing.
- Use active voice – Passive voice can read as, well, passive. And passive is boring. If you want to keep people engaged, try to maintain an active voice through the majority of your copy.
- Use repetition – You don’t just want to say the same thing over and over, but utilizing well-thought-out repetition can reinforce your main message and enhance your chances of meeting your goal.
Direct Mail Copy Tip #2: Know Your Audience
Even if you already know how to measure direct mail effectiveness and how to run a direct mail campaign, you could be overlooking one potential pitfall in writing copy: forgetting who you’re talking to. We become focused on our goals and our needs and neglect the needs of the reader. By keeping the audience in mind, we can make more of an emotional connection through our copy.
Here are a few ways to help you do this:
- Show empathy – Your reader needs something. Before you can start explaining why you have the product to meet that need, you have to establish that you understand their needs. By creating this bond with your reader, you build trust so that they’ll listen when you pitch your product.
- Work backward – You can’t offer something you don’t have. By working backward from your goal you can plan out your copy better and avoid promising more than you can deliver.
- Focus on benefits – It can be easy to get caught up in details and forget why someone might be interested in the first place. No one buys a car because they love adjustable sunroofs. They buy one for transportation. Focusing on features is like offering someone icing with no cake. Focus on core benefits first and progress from there.
- Personalize – One issue people have in modern society is that they feel overlooked, just part of a demographic as opposed to a real person. Personalized direct mail copy will allow you to build a real connection with each recipient.
- Repeat what works – This is where it helps to have superior testing that can show how your campaign is performing. If a certain element of your copy seems to be working, that tells you something about your customers. It’s also something you should use again in future copy.
Direct Mail Copy Tip #3: Review Your Content Internally
You’ll want to ensure your copy is polished before it reaches your recipients. It goes without saying that you should proofread your copy, but also let other members of your team review it. Be open to any feedback or suggestions that they might have to help improve the copy. Once it’s buttoned up, you could also have members outside your team review it, just in case anything was missed. Once all revisions have been made, you can share your mailer confidently!
Beyond Body Copy
When we think of copy, it’s easy to focus on the body text. After all, that’s where most of your words will go. However, there are other elements to copy which are at least as important, if not more important, than the body text.
- Headlines – Even people who will ignore your direct mail will read one element: the headline. That makes the headline potentially the most important part of great copy. By creating something eye-catching, you may be able to change your mailing from something that ends up in the junk mail pile to something that is read.
Some headline tips include:
- Be direct.
- Be specific.
- Be unique.
- CTA – Buy Now. Sign up for my email list. Your CTA, or call-to-action, is the final word you’ll be leaving your reader with. It’s how you tell them what action to take after receiving the mailer. That makes it just as important as a headline, and many of the same rules apply. Your CTA should be concise, actionable, and on both sides of your direct mail piece. If your CTA leads to actual action, you’ve got yourself a successful direct mail piece.
- Incentives – Incentives can be an effective way to spur readers to take the desired action. A strong, exclusive deal can also entice people to read the rest of your copy. Discounts and promo offers create a feeling of exclusivity that can move people to take the next step, or at least retain the mailer, even if they don’t have time to take advantage of it immediately. Make sure to place the offer on both sides of the mailer and have it stand out with contrasting colors.
- Design – Great copy doesn’t exist without design. Images, graphics, and other design elements grab the eye better than any block of text will. With that in mind, have your copy follow design rather than the other way around. It’s always easier to change words than it is to change an entire design.
It’s also important to remember that copy will change based on why you’re sending your mailing. Different use cases call for different types of copy. Let’s look at just a few examples of different direct mail use cases.
- Abandoned cart – These are mailed to people who have already visited and taken an action on your website, so they are farther down the purchase funnel. Since they’re familiar with your brand, your copy should focus on converting the cart abandoner with social proof, reviews, restating value props, and offers as opposed to an introduction.
- Cross-sell or upsell – This targets people who have already bought from you to highlight other products or services that they may be interested in. Your copy should reflect gratitude for their purchase while also informing them of the other options they’re missing out on.
- Reactivation – This is sent to former customers who have not bought anything in a while. Focus on checking in, updating them on new products, and adding win-back incentives to your copy to entice these customers back.
- Anniversary or birthday – A smart way to personalize your copy, offer an incentive to celebrate a customer’s birthday or anniversary to ensure your reader feels seen as a person and not just as a sale.
Optimize Your Copy with Poplar
The thing to remember about copy is that it’s one element of a full direct mail campaign. So to fully optimize your copy, you need to optimize your campaign. That’s where we come in.
Poplar is the direct mail solution you’re looking for to nail your direct mail copy. We’re here to help you launch an effective campaign quickly and easily. We can help you with content personalization, A/B testing to pinpoint the most effective copy, and added support for your overall marketing strategy. We can also provide complex testing and optimization practices, so you can adjust your campaign to yield the best results.
If you want to create the best direct mail campaign possible at a price you can afford, we at Poplar are ready to help. We look forward to hearing from you.
1. Entrepreneur. 5 Tips for Producing Direct Mail Copy That Sells. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230745
2. Chron. How to Write Direct Mail Copy. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/write-direct-mail-copy-10967.html
3. Neil Patel. How to Write Headlines: a Step-by-Step Guide. https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-step-by-step-guide-to-writing-powerful-headlines/