Staples | 11 Keys to Success: Direct Mail

11 Keys to Success: Direct Mail

Every dollar spent spent on direct mail typically generates a return of $11.1 The potential profits from direct mail marketing are staggering, but the pitfalls many. Following is a list of direct mail tips designed to help you launch a successful campaign.

Target the right people

The importance of targeting the right audience cannot be stressed enough. Marketing your products and services to the right people can improve your response rate by up to 60%.2

Use the P.S. to repeat your message, restate your key benefits, and remind readers of the deadline.

Know who buys what you sell

To target the right audience, you must understand your current customers and attract similar ones. Experts recommend you use your current customer list to figure out the key characteristics of the people who buy your products and services. For consumers, consider geographical location, income, gender, age, number of children, and hobbies. If you sell to other businesses, consider industry, annual sales, number of employees, job titles, and company size.

Keep it simple and personal

Write your direct mail letter as if you're talking to an average consumer. Avoid using a lot of technical terminology. Your letter should be friendly and informal. To be sure readers get your message; repeat it a few times, a few different ways.

Keep it short

Respect your readers' time and remember shorter is usually more digestible. The following recommendations are provided by  Ray Jutkins author of Power Direct Marketing: How to Make It Work for You .

 First paragraph  11 words or fewer
 Body paragraphs  No more than 7 lines
 Whole letter  No more than 2 pages

Use words that motivate readers

Make Money. Own a Home. Take a Vacation. Bargain, closeout, or free are examples of words and phrases that catch readers' attention and incite action.

Selling points before the price

Be sure to explain the benefits and features of your products and services before stating the price. Let potential customers know what they'll be getting before you tell them what it costs.

Tell them what you want them to do

If you want the readers to order your product, say so. If you want them to register for more information, let them know. Potential customers may not take action unless you tell them what to do.

Don't save your best for last

Experts believe you have about five seconds to make your point before a reader decides to throw out or keep reading your direct mail letter. If you've written a sentence you think will sell your products and services, put it in the top.4


If you plan to send your direct mail to more than 5,000 people, be sure to do a test. Mail the campaign to a small segment of your list and see what kind of response you receive. Test a few different messages and offers to help determine which ones will generate the best response.

Limited time only

Set a deadline in your letters. Deadlines, especially those with a specific date, create a sense of urgency and typically out–pull offers with no time limit.5

Make it easy to respond

Allow readers to take advantage of your offer via phone, fax, email, or in person. Include your phone number, fax number, address, and email address in the letter so potential customers can find you easily.

1"1999 Economic Impact: U.S. Direct Marketing Today Executive Summary," Direct Marketing Association. http://www.the––ecoimpact2.shtml
2Jutkins, Ray, "Power Direct Marketing: How to Make It Work for You," May 1999
3Bacon, Mark S., "Do–It–Yourself Direct Marketing," John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1997.
4Bly, Robert, "The 12 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes...and How to Avoid Them,"
5 Stone, Bob, "The 30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles."

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