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Direct mail: The words that work

Posted by Kim Redlin on July 9, 2014

One of the advantages of direct mail is that marketers have so many powerful tools to lift response. The list, offer, design and format all play key roles. None are more vital, however, than the words that detail the message itself. In fact, some words have proven so successful that we see them used again and again.

So let’s take a look at some of those wonder words that now often serve as powerful reinforcements of direct mail best practices.

Open now. As is seen in many direct mail examples, it’s wise to use an active voice. Tell readers exactly what you’d like them to do in a clear and concise way. “Open now” is a classic example of this technique. It’s used on the outer envelope in conjunction with the main benefit. That way readers know exactly what to do to get that cool widget you’re selling.

You. People are self-interested. Using the word “you” is a good way to draw readers into your message. It changes the copy tone from you-to-consumers to you-to-a-reader. For instance, “Save on repairs” becomes “You save on repairs.” It’s subtle but powerful, which is why you’ll see it in so many direct mail examples.

For more information. Many times your customers want to do their homework before they make a decision. The phrase “For more information” is a good, non-threatening way to lead them to the details needed to make a purchase decision. You can send them to a website, brochure, PURL, phone number or any combination of data sources. That’s one of the advantages of direct mail in today’s multichannel world.

Offer expires on… Direct mail best practices call for a sense of urgency in your mailings. It’s critical to counteract the natural human tendency to put things off. This short phrase gets people to act before something valuable slips away. That’s why it appears in so many direct mail examples.

Important. With all the shouting that goes on in mailboxes these days, a serious and official approach sometimes works best. “Important” is typically key in this regard. Whether setting the tone right on the outer envelope or as part of headline on the inside, it demands attention from the reader and, when used carefully, helps prioritize the information for your reader. In fact, leveraging the immediacy of an official approach is one of the distinct advantages of direct mail.

Free. Yes, it’s a spam trigger in email. And yes, it has often been overused. But if you can legitimately offer something for free (white paper, T-shirt, consultation, etc.), the word “free” is still one of the most powerful words in the English language.

Proven. People are naturally skeptical, especially when it comes to direct mail solicitations. Therefore, top direct marketing agencies commonly incorporate facts and authoritative studies to support their claims. Using the word “proven” to support a statement is a fast, succinct way to tell people your claims are more than just marketingspeak.

Announcing. A product or program launch (or even just an update) can be a powerful allure for potential customers. The words “announcing” and “new” immediately clue prospects in and stand out amid the advertising clutter.

P.S. Who would have guessed that after-thoughts would be the most read items in direct mail letters? But it’s true. As top direct marketing agencies know, the P.S., or post script, is prime real estate. In fact, having a P.S. is one of the unique advantages of direct mail. Ever see a P.S. on a web page? And they seem out of place in emails. So remember to leverage that space. The P.S. content should encapsulate your primary message and include a clear call to action and deadline. Doing this is one of the top direct mail best practices for letters.

Direct Mail Best PracticesTo learn more about the advantages of direct mail and what role it should play in your marketing mix, contact J&C. You’ll also want to check out our Direct Mail Best Practices ebook and sign up for our personalized webinar: Optimizing Your Direct Mail for Maximum Response. Both resources offer lots of great direct mail examples and ideas for maximizing this often overlooked channel.

Topics: Direct marketing

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