How to Write Effective Direct Mail Copy that Sells

How to Write Effective Direct Mail Copy that Sells

Read Time: 7 Minutes


24 Jan 2019

As a small business owner, you’re also a lot of other things – one of these being a copywriter for all of your direct mail campaigns. 

Writing content to sell can be a daunting experience. Whether that’s direct marketing, emails or web copy. But, with these top tips, we’re sure you’ll nail your next big mailer!


What is Sales Copy?

Sales copy is a type of writing used to persuade a reader to take a specific action. Examples of this could be to buy a product, visit your website, follow you on social media or to join your email list.

The key things your sales copy must do is excite the reader and intrigue them to find out more. 


What Are Copywriting Skills?

For effective content marketing in 2019, there are certain skills you’ll need to help your direct mail stand out from the crowd. Here are a few examples that are crucial for a copywriter:

  • A strong grasp of the English language (or a great proof reader!)
  • The ability to think creatively
  • Excellent research skills

The most important thing to remember is that your passion for your product should come through in your copywriting. That’ll be the thing that’ll help your direct mail campaign stand out.


What is Direct Mail

One of the first tasks to complete before you write anything is to choose a direct mail format. There are loads of different types to choose from, and each has its benefits depending on your end goal.

Here are a few examples to get your initial research started:

If you want to promote a sale, flyers and postcards are your best bet. Or, if you want to show off your best products, create a magazine or catalogue!


How to Write Direct Mail Copy

Although each campaign will require unique copy that’s specific to what you’re trying to sell or promote, there are a few key things that apply to every piece of direct mail copy. Here are our top tips for writing direct mail copy that sells.

  1. Write for Your Audience

    Your writing style will depend on your brand voice. And your brand voice will depend on your target market – AKA, your audience. You want your writing to appeal to your ideal customer, so keep them in mind at all times.

    For example, B2B copywriting will likely include a lot more specialised jargon because you’ll be writing to the experts. B2C can be a lot more playful, but needs to be broader because your target audience might be larger.

  2. Focus on One Key Message

    Sending a mailer is super exciting, especially if it’s your first one. It can be tempting to include everything and fill all the space on every page.

    Pick one key message you want to send to your audience, one you know they’ll relate to. One tailored approach is more effective than throwing everything you’ve got at your potential customers.

  3. Use Engaging Headings

    As the largest piece of copy on the page, your headline can either make or break your mailer. It’s important to make sure it’s easy-to-read and appeals immediately to your reader.

    (Source: Behance)


    Once you’ve created a catchy title, the next largest (and therefore important) written content will be your subheadings.

    If you look at the example below, this folded leaflet uses headings and subheadings excellently and your eyes are drawn to these areas first. Where your eyes are drawn to in a design is called a hot spot. 

    (Source: Behance)

    People are more likely to read bitesize chunks than huge paragraphs of text, which is why subheadings are so important for your direct mail copy – you want the content you’ve worked so hard on to actually be seen!

  4. Be Clear and Concise

    Long, rambling sentence are great for novels. Not so much for sales copy. As well as adding headings, another way to make your work clear and concise is to keep sentences short and snappy.

    Ideally, paragraphs should be no longer than two-three sentences, and each sentence no longer than around 20-25 words. Bullet points are also fantastic for breaking up big blocks of copy, especially if you’re listing the different benefits of your product.

    (Source: Behance)

    In this leaflet created by Fiona Yeung, the topic of food waste is shown in a very visual way. Copy is minimum, but still crucial. Creating copy with the design in mind is a fantastic way of keeping it concise and snappy!

  5. Shout About Your Benefits (Rather than Your Features)

    With B2C direct mail sales copy, the minute you use industry-specific jargon, or marketese, you’ve lost your reader. 

    Instead of telling the reader about all the different components that make your product up, think instead about how it would change their life. That’s really what they’re looking for. You need to tell them how much better life would be if your product was part of the picture.

    For example, if you’re selling a coat, don’t just tell them about the two-inch insulation layer. Tell them they’ll never go cold again, whether they’re hiking mountains, skiing the slopes or even taking part in the world’s biggest snowball fight!

  6. Feature Testimonials

    To sell something, you’ve got to show that you’re a trustworthy source. A sure-fire way to do this is to include a testimonial, a real customer review of your products.

    (Source: K. Nicole Murtagh)

    This postcard mailer advertising Etsy uses a handwritten review of their services to show an authentic testimonial. People trust people, so the more real the review looks, the better. 

  7. Incentivise Your Mailer with an Offer

    Offers and discounts are a great way of driving people to make a purchase. Whether they can redeem it instore or online, make sure to add a discount code if you want to give customers an extra nudge.

    An added benefit of including an incentive like a discount code is that you can then track the success of the mailer, therefore allowing you to measure the campaign’s success. This can then help you see whether or not you’ve hit your goals.

  8. Create a Strong Call to Action

    A call to action (CTA) tells your reader what you want them to do. An effective one can prompt immediate action, especially if you play on the customer’s FOMO (fear of missing out). Examples include:

    •    Call now to talk to one of our specialists
    •    Redeem your coupon in store today!
    •    Buy now before it’s too late
    •    Follow us on social media and keep up with the latest news
    •    Like on the postcard below: Hurry renew your Membership today!

    (Source: Company Folders)

    Without a CTA, readers would read the copy you’ve worked so hard on and think ‘so what? What do you want me to do?’. So, make sure you always include one in your direct mail sales copy.

  9. Write Intriguing Content

    If you want your readers to find out more, don’t give everything away. Tempt them in with a brief description and then use your call to action to direct them to your small business’ website to see the full range of products you offer.

    Another way of creating intrigue is through your headings and subheadings. Ask a question that draws your reader in, e.g. ‘Are you missing out?’. These kinds of question are perfect for drawing readers in and getting them to read the whole mailer.


In Conclusion…

Although there are lots of things to consider when writing direct mail sales copy, we hope this list gives you everything you need to make your next campaign a success.

But it’s also important that great copy needs great design. No experience? No problem. We have hundreds of free templates you can customise to create something unique to your business. Or, unleash your creativity on a blank template and start a new design from scratch for free!


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.