There are well tested components and techniques that are commonly utilised to lend the sales letter the power of influence to awake interest and sell.


The most effective direct mail sales letters are not just business letters printed on corporate stationery. There are well tested components and techniques that are commonly utilised to lend the sales letter the power of influence to awake interest and sell. Direct mail sales letters should:

  1. Be written with the customer in mind. This is the most important aspect of a good sales letter, but it's often overlooked. Imagine yourself as the reader of your letter, and write what the customer wants to know. What are the most important features of the product or service for the customer based on the data you have about them?
  2. Have a lot of visual texture to keep the reader interested and to draw the eye to the highlights of the copy in a natural way. Use of underlining, bullets, varying indents, pull quotes, italics and subheads all create interest and break up the monotony. (from Trish Witkowski)
  3. Have summary of offer at the top of the page - highlight the offer or strongest benefit to set the tone for the letter.
  4. Feature a P.S. note that reinforces the offer – a short note reminding what call to action is required or how limited the offer is, may be just what the reader needs to make the final decision.
  5. Be filled with words that convert – there are numerous lists of words that convert and their power depends on the different factors, such as culture, household income, age etc. Here’s an example list from Directmarketing IQ.
  6. Be easy to read - 75 to 80% of words in the copy should be five characters or less. Sentences should be one and a half lines or less, and paragraphs in a direct mail sales letter, should rarely exceed six lines.(from Pat Friesen)
  7. Ask the recipients to take action – Consumers are exposed to more and more advertising every year. Unless you include a clear call-to-action, they won’t know how to take advantage of the offer right away and may simply skip the letter.
  8. Use technology – heat- or water-activated paper can offer an additional dimension to the letter and ensure a longer exposure to the copy. If the campaign’s target group is tech-savvy, Augmented Reality (AR) can add an interactive layer to the sales letter and offer the reader additional information (video, animation, commentary, etc.) or a direct way to sign up or purchase.
Get more tips for direct mail marketing from the 2016 IPC Direct Mail Guide.