How to “Win” with Direct Mail Marketing

Direct Mail MaketingAlthough the Internet has drastically changed the face of marketing, savvy business owners can still reach prospects and generate sales through direct mail marketing.

Yes, direct mail – that form of marketing everyone else thinks is worthless.

But because I’m sending out 15,000 pieces of direct mail today for a test campaign – I thought I’d share some tips with you.

In many cases, we’re seeing direct mail marketing as more effective than email or banner ad marketing because there is less competition – instead of competing with a hundred other emails or image ads, you only compete with a small stack of bills and junk mail.

It’s not uncommon for our return on investment to exceed 100%… not too shabby.

In order to grab recipients’ attention and compel them to buy from you, though, it is important to craft your direct mail pieces carefully. It doesn’t have to be difficult to create a winning piece that gets attention.

Here are a few tips to get you going:

1) Drag Out the Pen and Write the Envelope

Ask yourself what you do when you get a piece of marketing in the mail? Toss it to the side? Does it even make it in the house before hitting the trash? Here’s a tip that works every time.

The first goal of direct mail is to get your envelope opened.

So here’s a trick: Hand write the addresses on envelopes. 

Most direct mail marketers use printed labels or envelopes with printed addresses when sending direct mail pieces. It might be cheaper and faster, but your pieces will end up being nothing more than junk mail.

Handwritten envelopes spark curiosity because they are unusual.

Could this be a long-lost friend?

Prospects naturally want to know what’s inside.

Less than one in 100 recipients will throw away a hand-addressed letter without opening it. If you want to get the word out about a special offer, a new product, or the grand opening of a new store location, this is the route to take.

2) Opt for Variable Printing

If you walk into a meeting and are handed a stack of papers just like everyone else, do you feel special?

Of course not.

Now, if the attendant addressed you by name, and your name was on those papers, you may feel far more important.

That’s what variable printing allows.

You can also use variable printing to insert the prospect’s name, location, and other data into the body of the letter.

This extra step of personalization makes recipients feel more special – and if you can make your customers feel more special, you’re already more than half way to the sale!

3) Pay Attention to the Layout

Here are some must-do tips for layout. This isn’t the place to mess up – especially now that you have your readers in the envelope and feeling good about your letter:

  • Use a font large enough to make it easy to read. Big, important messages and points should be larger than other details.
  • Don’t use big paragraphs of text. Break it up into small sections. People don’t read long letters, but skim them for information.
  • Use a bullet list, just like this. People are naturally attracted to reading bullets, so highlight the most important points here.
  • Use images, but limitedly. You don’t want there to be so many that the prospect is only looking at the pictures.
  • And one of my favorites – feel free to use highlighting and handwritten notes in the margin – this drastically improves readership, as it feels more personal.

By using these simple strategies, you can create direct mailers that excite and engage your prospects. As you test and refine your marketing mailers, you can turn a higher percentage of your prospects into satisfied buyers.

In your corner,


P.S. Would you like more advanced tips like these? You can find them in the Predictable Profits Insiders’ Club.

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  1. says

    I think that consumers will really appreciate the effort put into a handwritten envelope. Granted, this might not be productive in all situations, but there’s definitely some good that can come from it.

  2. says

    So you wrote the addresses of 15.000 mail pieces of your test campaign by hand? if you make it to finish one envelope in 15 seconds, it should have taken you 60-odd-hrs to finish the task. No break. Handwriting addresses is a nice idea but not practical. Has anyone tried to use VDP on the envelope using a handwriting-like font instead? Would be interesting to learn how the conversion rate would look like.

    • charles gaudet says

      Great question! In our test, we used variable printing using a handwriting-like font. The key with the font is making sure it really looks like real handwriting (if it doesn’t – and it looks like you’re using “fake handwriting” – this will likely work against you). For authentic handwriting, you can find people (often on Craig’s List) who you can pay, per envelope, to hand address for you. We have not compared conversion rates between the handwriting-like font and authentic handwriting. Our general rule is when the mailing is really important (and the returns justifies the additional expense), we always go for the authentic. Hope that helps!

  3. Jack says

    Very informative blog on direct mail marketing. Direct marketing is definitely a choice for small business having targeted customers . If I were to choose mail marketing I wouldn’t sit and write on each envelope. Definitely, not practical. I would rather hire a company at a very affordable rate, like that of They would have their own ways to make the mails look more personalized.

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