The creative elements in a direct mail piece will greatly impact its success. Your copy and design must work together to pique the recipients’ interest, make the offer clear, and nudge potential customers into action. Below are basic guidelines for effective direct mail copywriting.
Aim for the Target
When it comes to enticing a prospect to try your product, you must start by targeting the right consumers. I frequently receive catalogues for children’s clothes, furniture, and toys, but I have no children. The catalogues go straight into the recycle bin. I suspect you have had an experience like this as well. To increase response and your return on investment, edit your mailing lists to reach people who are most likely to benefit from your offer. It doesn’t matter how cleverly crafted your copy is if the recipient has no use for the product.
Create a Need
Even with a carefully edited mailing list, potential customers may not see the benefit of your product without guidance from you. For convincing copy, keep in mind legendary ad man David Ogilvy’s advice, “think about what keeps your customers up at night.” Empathize with them. Show them you understand their problems. Ask relevant questions to get their minds churning. Then tell them how your product is the solution.
Befriend Your Customer
As with all marketing copy, your primary goal is to show the recipient that your product is meant for him or her. There are several simple techniques you can use in your direct mail piece to do this:
- Think of the recipient as your friend. Use “you” and “your” in the copy as if you were speaking to someone you know personally.
- Use variable data printing to insert the recipients name in the mail piece multiple times.
- Use Personalized URLs (PURLs). These allow you to include your recipient’s name in the response URL on your direct mail piece. The PURL will take the recipient to a customized web page, which again includes his or her name in the copy. What better way to show your prospects that your offer is specifically meant for them?
Offer Something Money Can’t Buy
Alan Rosenspan, president of direct marketing creative and consulting firm Rosenspan & Associates, recommends enticing customers with an offer that is available only through you. You could offer something inexpensive, such as a clever promotional product or a how-to guide created by your in-house experts. If you have the resources, something costly and highly desirable, like a chance to win a round of golf with a professional golfer, will generate interest. Whatever the offer, make sure it has a clear connection to your business and strengthens your brand.
Set a Deadline
This tried and true marketing technique gives your recipient a reason to act now. Most of us have busy lives, and it’s easy to forget items that aren’t a top priority. If you’ve successfully conveyed your product benefit, the prospect needs a reason to respond before life gets in the way.
Clearly State the Offer and the Call to Action
Don’t make your customers search for the offer. Reference it at the beginning and restate it several times in your copy. Most people won’t read your letter or postcard word for word, and you want to make sure they see the offer and know how to get it.
Test Your Copy
Every business and consumer is different. To understand what elicits the highest number of profitable responses, try testing different versions of the same mail piece. Try approaching the problem your product solves from several angles, and try different wording for your offer and call to action. Track the correlation between wording and actual purchases. The copy that generates the highest number of inquiries may not be the copy that generates the largest profits. It’s worth the effort to test your campaigns. Knowing what works with your customers will help you improve success rates in the future.