How to Write Direct Mail Letters that Sell


What tricks are used by professional copywriters to create direct mail letters that really sell?

Hook Your Reader

The first line of letter is vital. Your opening gambit should be short and precise, with a time limit to create urgency with the reader. Good headings should be short and clear, and go easy on alliteration and superlatives.

Paint a Picture

Having hooked your reader with the headline work hard on the first paragraph, as this is where you will engage your reader and make him want to read more. Use the first paragraph to paint a picture of what you can offer or what problem you can solve in the readers mind – as the old saying goes, people “buy the sizzle not the steak”. Don’t make it too long, short and punchy is better.

Time to Tease

Now we have hooked the reader and engaged him we need to tease him a little in the next paragraph. Write something that’s going to make the reader want to visit your shop, give you a call for a chat, or come to your website, by implying some other benefits that may be on offer: but only if they take the action you want them to.

Bullet the Key Points

At this point bullet points are good to use to reiterate the points you have made and allow the casual skim reader to pick up the points you want. Some readers may just scan the letter anyway, and pick up on the visual cues the bullet points provide, so make sure the bullets include really valid key points, and not fluff.

Add a Call to Action

OK, we have hooked and engaged the reader and reiterated the relevant points, we are now ready to summarise and provide a ‘call to action’.A call to action tells the reader clearly what you want them to do or how to make a purchase. Surprisingly often this key step is overlooked.

Don’t Forget To P.S.

Now you need to sign off and include a P.S in your mailing letter. The P.S. is the second most read part of the direct mail letter after the heading, so it’s where you want to hammer home your message. Adding a P.S. Allows you to summarise the key points you want to make, although bear in mind that if the letter is a very formal approach it is not always appropriate.

Flower the Text

Now the main letter is finished, you can also indulge in a little decoration of the text, just to give the eye some ‘flowers’ in the text to help keep the readers attention. For example: break up text with hyphens. You can also use; semi colons and colons to create a dramatic pause just before a key point. And add just the occasional keyword in bold, underline or italic: but use sparingly.

To help you implement the above, visit our free letter writing tool and follow the step by step instructions. If you need advice on the format, print and post of your mailing or indeed the recipients to send your mailing to – call the Selectabase team on 01304 383838.