In my previous two posts, I started looking at whether email marketing has had its day, and then how to create effective emails if you decide to market your business that way.

This time around I want to look at direct mail (the sales letter). My first post looked at why a physical sales letter will have more impact than an email. But that will only happen if your message is stonkingly good.

First, I want to take a look at the basic construction of a sales letter. 

How to write a sales letter

In this section, I will discuss your list, offer, letter format, and content.

  • List

Your list must be a home-grown affair. Buying one in maybe quicker but it’s less likely to deliver the response you want from your campaign. Using your opt-in list means the recipients are interested in hearing from you – that’s a good start. They will already be aware of your company, so an element of trust will already be there. 

  • Offer

The whole point in creating your sales letter is to promote an offer. It should take centre stage in your content and be something they can’t possibly refuse. It could range from a free report, BOGOF, free postage, a voucher – the possibilities are endless. Whatever you choose must apply to your audience.

  • Format

The letter itself needs to be concise. I don’t know about you, but I find the ‘American’ style long-form letters (you know, the ones that go on and on and on) a real turn off. Your audience wants to see what you’re offering, how much it costs, and how to get in touch. You should be able to cover that on one side of A4 easily. Oh, and please don’t use umpteen different fonts and colours – for the vast majority of people, that’s an instant turn off.

Also, keep your paragraphs short and sweet, so there is plenty of white space on the page which makes it easier to read.

  • Content

When it comes to content, keep your language simple and natural. Write in the second person (i.e. you and your) to create engagement and always address your reader by name. I mentioned the offer earlier, to reinforce that make sure your content contains at least one strong call to action, so the reader knows how to get their hands on your offer. And make it as easy as possible to get in touch with you – a free phone number, enclose an SAE for their order form, give them your web address and email. Different people like to interact in different ways so give them a choice. 

A sprinkle of magic

Of course, writing a successful letter needs more than the basic elements described above. 

After starting your letter with your offer, you then must create a sense of drama or intrigue as to why your reader can’t possibly live without your product. This is where storytellingcomes in to play.  

You can either play the desirable card, showing your reader that your product will make them more successful, a trendsetter, the envy of their friends. Or you can play the I feel your pain hand. With this one, first describe the pain (such as avoiding illness, removing stains, etc.) and then introduce your offer, which is the ‘cure’ followed by evidence.

On top of that, limiting your offer (by time or amount available) is a great way to get a positive response by triggering the FOMO (fear of missing out) reaction.

Measuring your results

The only way to determine the success of your mailing is by measuring your responses.  

With a sales letter, this can quickly be done by adding a code to the order form, creating a voucher code that has to be added to online orders and using a specific freephone number for phone orders.

All marketing campaigns should be measured in this way – after all, it’s the only way to work out what’s right for your customers. 

Why not try out a physical sales letter for your next marketing campaign and compare those results to previous email promotions to see which one works best for you. 

Sally Ormondhas written many sales letters and email marketing campaigns for her client. Ask for her help on +44(0)1449 779605.