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How to approach a direct marketing letter

Producing an effective direct marketing letter isn’t as daunting as you might think and despite the propensity to flood people’s inboxes with marketing emails, an “old-fashioned” letter may well prove to be the best way of getting your message out there.

While email is quick, texts are convenient and photos and messages can be plastered all over Facebook, 21.9 million adults in the UK took action in 2011 thanks to direct mail they received, according to Royal Mail statistics. Furthermore, according to FastMAP, 9 out of 10 people open direct mail. However, while direct marketing letters are still an appealing advertising medium with consumers and are not seen as the “junk mail” they used to be, don’t ignore other channels; research shows that a successful direct mail campaign can work best when executed in conjunction with emails, texts and social media options.

Your approach to a direct marketing letter is key: keep is simple, keep it clear and aim at your target audience. And remember, the purpose of a direct marketing letter is to open doors and get a response. You can follow up responses with more sales-orientated mailed and e-messages afterwards, although don’t let that stop you adding a ‘call to action’ from the first moment of contact.

One great letter is all it takes. But how to start?


Don’t complicate things – keep it simple. If you can keep the direct marketing letter to one side, all the better. State your business and product as succinctly as possible. If you’re not confident about writing this, it may pay to appoint a professional marketing writer.

Leave plenty of white space on the page too – don’t cram your direct marketing letter with lots of messages, using up every inch of the page. Your message will be lost if the audience’s eye has to flick all over the place. White space helps to keep the letter looking clean and crisp … and easy to read.

Personalise it

Sound like a human and strike up a personal conversation with your audience. It’s essential you personalise the letter anyway to your target audience, so you should have someone’s name that you can “speak” to. Tell them about your product or service as if you were face to face. Tell them a story if you like. Even include your own thoughts or experiences as a way of associating with them and finding some common ground between you.

Your audience is also far more inclined to keep reading if you avoid corporate speak.

Get to the point

As soon as possible! Don’t waffle. Once boredom has set in, you’ve lost the reader and your direct marketing letter has been a complete waste of time.

Tell them about the benefits of your product or service rather than the features, particularly how they will benefit your audience personally.


Offer an incentive, preferably one that they can only realise through your direct marketing letter, such as an introductory discount or relevant free gift with the first order. Everyone likes a freebie.

It also helps to include information like guarantees, or testimonials from satisfied customers. A good word from someone else can go a long way.


Don’t be shy about asking for an order within the response you’re asking your audience to make to your direct marketing letter. Give them every opportunity to do so by making it easy for them to respond to your message. Consider enclosing a pre-paid reply card or envelope to increase response rates. The cost may be inconsequential if it leads to sales.

Set up a way of monitoring the responses too. This will help with your future marketing activities and can be as simple as marking it with a specific promotional code.


According to Forbes, research shows that the eye travels down to the foot of the page – to the postscript – before the rest of the letter is read, so don’t forget the P.S.! This is the place to repeat your offer.

And remember, direct mail affords the opportunity to add all sorts of marketing materials in an envelope or package and personalisation seems to know no bounds. Make sure the outer wrap is eye-catching; it’s the sort of thing that will make you stand out in the marketing crowd.

Asendia UK

Now your direct marketing letter is written, it needs printing, stuffing in an envelope and posting. Consider having one company do all that for you, especially one who can offer competitive rates on the postage.

Asendia UK has the facilities to digitally print your letters, fulfil your mailing swiftly and send out for you via an extensive postal network. A joint venture between La Poste and Swiss Post since 2012, Asendia has an undeniable heritage in the postal business with offices across 15 countries and – especially if you want to market abroad – facilities to 220 destinations.


Direct mail response rates are on the up, at the expense of email. So if you’re currently achieving a good return on investment from direct mail, stick with it. If you’ve abandoned it in favour of email, now’s the time to consider giving it another go. There couldn’t be a better time with reduced competition for attention.

About the author
Catherine Jackson is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has been a publishing professional for over 30 years, working in newspapers, magazines, and marketing in the education, retail and travel sectors. She has also worked as a freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader before joining Asendia UK as Content Marketing Executive & Copywriter. Google+