How to Create Great Direct Mail Copy That Will Get Noticed

Direct mail can be a good way to grow your business, but it can also be a costly mistake if not done correctly. What can you do to get the best response possible?


The first thing you need to understand is that direct mail can be an uphill battle. Bob Bly, one of the US's leading copywriters, quotes the following figures regarding direct mail success rates:

- Solo mailing selling a single item: 0.5 % - 2%.

- Lead-generation mailing requiring specific action (calling or e-mailing you): 0.5% - 2%.

- Lead-generation mailing requiring milder action (return self-addressed envelope): 1% - 3%.

You can expect to convert between 10% and 25% of the leads you get from direct mail, but it will probably take some time, especially for high-end service professionals.

Take a close look at those numbers and analyze what they mean for your business. If you offer professional services, it is going to take a lot of mailings to generate a healthy response. That is why I never recommend building a business on direct mail alone. It can soak up a lot of cash, especially if your company is new and hasn't had time to build a brand. That said, there are some ways to make sure your mailing gets noticed and has a fighting chance of working for you.


Your mailer needs to be eye-catching, to-the-point, and sent to a targeted list of prospects. Here are a few tips to help you compose an effective campaign.

Use a targeted list. Companies like InfoUSA and USA Data have huge lists with specific demographics that will help you focus your mailing to your specific target market. It may cost more money, but the better your leads the better chance you have of success.

- Set an objective for the mailer. Do you want prospects to call for a free consultation? Do you want them to R.S.V.P. for your next seminar? What type of action do you want them to take? There are a number of things you might request a prospect do, make sure you say it on the mailer.

- Include an incentive to take action. "The first 10 callers will receive...". People love a good deal, and giving an incentive like a price reduction or free gift can be just what was needed to generate a response.

- Proofread and then proofread again. According to a Royal Mail survey, 74% of customers don't trust businesses that make grammar errors, and 30% won't buy from them.

- Write a good headline. Try to strike an emotion (pain and fear are often used) from the start.

- Test your mailing before sending it out to thousands of prospects. A random sample of 500 postcards or letters should give you a good feel for how the market will respond to that particular mailing. You can also test two or more mailings against each other and see which one delivers a better response.

Several companies have samples of quality direct mail pieces on their website. Google "direct mail sample" and a list will come up.


There are several different choices of what to send. Here is a list of the most conventional mailings.

- Postcards

- Letters (both single and multi-pages)

- Catalog

- Magazine/Trade Advertisements

- ValPak Coupons

For most high-end service businesses, a letter or advertisement in a trade magazine will carry more weight than a simple postcard. Sure it costs more, but your responses will likely be higher using a more thorough method of communication.


Many businesses are cyclical in nature and business owners sometimes try mailings during slow times thinking it will generate demand. Don't defy the business gods by doing this. You will waste your money. The best time to mail is when customers are ready to spend money on your service. If that only happens during certain times of the year, so be it.

Let's recap some of the main points. First, make sure you have a targeted list. Second, proofread your mailer and remember to put a call to action. Third, never do a full mailing without testing it first. Finally, send your direct mail piece at the right time. Best of luck with your next campaign!


Bill Tamminga is an SEO expert and website designer in Denver, CO. He is the founder of TM&C, a web design and Denver SEO company that specializes in helping service businesses establish and grow their client base using action-oriented WordPress websites and unsurpassed search engine optimization. To date every TM&C client has at least one listing on the front page of Google. Visit Denver WordPress design

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