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Direct Mail That Gets a High Response Rate

There’s a fine line between what’s considered “direct mail” and what’s considered “junk mail.”

The standard rule-of-thumb is that the average person spends less than 2 seconds determining which pieces of mail they will and won’t open. This means that you can’t write any old thing on a postcard, drop it in the mail, and hope for a high response rate. In this day and age, you have 2 seconds to persuade someone to open the direct mail – or it gets thrown in the trash can. While there is less competition for people’s mailboxes nowadays, the vast majority of people have evolved since the early days of the internet. Nowadays, any marketing campaign must be personalized and make a connection with its intended audience or into the garbage it goes. We’re going to give you a few tips on how to design effective direct mail pieces that will not only get opened but will increase the response rate exponentially.

Create a Connection

Designing a direct mail piece that is memorable and creates a connection with the viewer is challenging. You have to know and intrinsically understand your intended audience.   For example, if you run a charity, then the best way to get responses with your direct mail campaigns is to appeal to emotion with the design and copywriting. People are hard-wired to respond to emotional pleas. One of the best ways to create a connection is to personalize the letter. By using variable data printing, you can segment your lists and create laser-targeted mail campaigns. Variable DataPersonalization also includes thinking about the target audience as a whole.
  • What's going on in their lives?
  • Is there an offer you think they will respond best to?
  • Are there colors they like more?
Personalized details like this can have a significant impact on the response rates.

Solve Problems or Pain Points

Far too many companies confuse “features” with “benefits.”  The features of a widget are what it does. The benefits are conveyed upon the user of the widget. By focusing on profits and solving pain points or problems, your direct mail piece will be much more persuasive and effective. Humans respond very well to pain, and if you bring up something that is causing them pain (and your product or solution can make that pain go away), you’ll have a much higher response rate than if you were to list the features of your product or service.


You could have the best designed direct mail campaign in the world, but if it doesn’t have a proper call-to-action (CTA), then your response rate will be a fraction of what it could be.   CTA’s are important because they ask people to do something. Whether it’s asking them to log onto your website or call you for an appointment, a good call-to-action is a necessity in any direct mail campaign. Be sure to make it clear and straightforward. If it sounds too complicated, people will most likely ignore it.

The Design

The design of a direct mail piece can make or break the entire campaign. This is why many people leave the design and execution up to the experts. While talking about what goes into an effective direct mail design can take up several blog posts, here are the essential elements that you should be paying attention to:
  •    Color
  •    Sub-headlines
  •    Graphics
  •    Bold headlines
  •    Top-quality materials (the look, texture, and feel of the paper/envelopes)


Another critical element of a successful direct mail piece is the offer. Due to the internet and a plethora of free services and websites, people have been conditioned to respond well to things that don’t cost anything. If you can’t offer something for free, then try offering a coupon or discount.   The copywriting for the offer needs to be on point as well. Using such words as “NEW,” “FREE,” and “% OFF” will instantly attract attention and cause curiosity in the mind of the reader.

Measure Results

At the heart of any compelling or persuasive direct mail campaign is the ability to track and measure results. That can be accomplished by adding a unique phone number for people to call or adding a Personalized URL (PURL) that leads to a special landing page on your company website. You can further incentivize the reader to visit your site with the inclusion of a discount, coupon, or some other offer.

Direct Mail Design in Raleigh

To learn more about how AlphaGraphics of Downtown Raleigh can help you can help you increase the response rates of your direct mail campaign give us a call. Would you rather leave the design and execution to the professionals? You may email us or request a quote or call us at (919) 832-2828.

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