6 Steps to Writing Direct Mail Copy That Inspires Action

470,000: the approximate number of words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Your direct mail copy challenge: Find the magic combination that will command the reader’s attention (i.e., dodge the recycle bin) and compel action.

Yes, direct mail writing can be intimidating. But the following steps can help you write direct mail copy that will get noticed – and get your prospects motivated.

  1. Grab Attention with Your Headline
    Many leading copywriters believe in the rule of 80/20 – that writing the headline should take 80% of your effort, and the copy below should take 20%. Why? The headline has to work really, really hard to hook readers. If it falls flat, no one will read past it.
    • Focus the headline around a leading benefit.
    • Build intrigue – tease with just enough information so that it’s impossible to ignore what follows.
  2. Expand (a little) on the Most Important Benefits
    Your body content needs to strike a balance between being informative and being concise. Again, stay benefits-focused, and give readers information that will convince them they need to act on your offer.
    • Tell readers how the product or service will improve their lives.
    • Present information in a logical order.
  3. Be Brief and Readable
    Your words are not the star of the piece. Rather, the recipient should be kept front and center. Copy should focus on their needs, and never compromise readability.
    • Limit the amount of copy in your mailer.
    • Save longer, more detailed explanations for product/service websites, landing pages or brochures.
    • Break up blocks of copy with subheads.
  4. Write for a Persona
    Writing for a persona can help you key in on the needs and motivations of your target audience.
    • Address their specific concerns.
    • Craft copy that connects on an emotional level.
  5. Craft an Irresistible Call to Action
    Finally, you need to ask for the reader’s business with your call to action (CTA).
    • Give the reader direct, specific instruction on how to take the next step.
    • Use active verbs.
    • Imply urgency – the offer will expire; they can’t afford to delay; time is running out; be one of the first, etc.
  6. Test to Find Out What Works Best
    A simple A/B test – where a control group receives a version with one varying element – can help you uncover the most effective copywriting approaches for your audience.
    • A/B test elements such as headlines, CTAs and envelope teasers.
    • Track results, and refine future mailings accordingly.

Going Multichannel?

Ensure you align your direct mail copy with other pieces of the campaign – emails, landing pages, digital ads, broadcast media. The message needs to be cohesive, or you’ll confuse your audience.

Strata Company, a Plymouth Meeting, PA-based marketing services and technology solutions company, has been a leader in direct mail marketing for 25 years. Our multichannel marketing programs combine award-winning creative with superior data practices to attract the right prospects and keep them engaged. Contact us to speak with one of our direct marketing experts.

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