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Ace Your Direct Mail Writing Strategy
jordan comment 0 Comments access_time 5 min read

Great Headlines

While direct mail marketing may receive less attention than digital marketing, your customers still get a lot of it. That can make it tough to make you stand out from your competitors. Your direct mail writing strategy is essential to ensuring that your audience picks up your postcard and gives it second thought.

With 77% of people sorting through their physical mail as soon as they get it, first impressions are key to conversions. That’s why the success–or failure–of your mailing campaign can often come down to the copy.


Of course, finding the right words can be tough. It’s often unclear how much or how little text you need. Even seasoned copywriters can struggle to latch onto that perfect, clever piece of copy that will convert a customer. The process of writing for direct mail marketing can seem intimidating, but breaking it into these steps can help simplify the process. 

Build a direct mail writing strategy

Direct mail targeting doesn’t end with the address on your postcard. Your intended audience can shape how your write everything: from your call to action to your tone.

Make identifying your target customer your first priority when you start writing copy. That will help you to create better headlines and CTAs down the road as well. 

Direct mail writing strategy

Craft killer headlines with our Pacman Rule

A copywriter’s rule of thumb in writing a good headline is that it should require about 80% of their efforts. The remaining 20% of their is spent on the rest of the copy, because most people don’t reading past the headline.

We’ve invented a PacMan rule when we help our clients write postcard copy. The yellow part is how much of your time you should spend writing your copy, 80%. The rest of the time is eaten up by everything else.

Direct Mail Writing Strategy: Pacman Rule

If you’re lost on where to start with headlines for your direct mail writing strategy, there are a couple of easy ways to get started. Always begin by thinking through the benefit you’re offering to the customer. Will they receive a big discount if they buy in the next few weeks? Receive the best customer service around? Make this benefit the focal point of your headline–chances are you’ll refer to it later on, too.

If you’re really stuck, review existing headline ‘templates.’ While you will still need to customize your message to your specific customers and business, these existing headlines can be a good way to strike inspiration for your direct mail writing strategy. Consider keeping a list of your own headline templates once you’ve found ones that work well for you and your goals. It’s best to test these digitally first, if you can. That way you’ll know what works best before printing it off thousands of times.

As you get more practice writing headlines, you can also try A/B testing your direct mail campaigns. By measuring which headlines resonate best with your audience, you can get a clearer sense of what works well for your audience, and pull from those styles for your direct mail writing strategy going forward.

Write for a 5th grader (but don’t be condescending)

Don’t write a novel to try and convince someone that’s never heard of your product to buy it. They will stop at, “once upon a time.” 

A good rule of thumb? Write your copy for a 5th grader. In short, keep it very simple. Writing simply is actually a good thing. Some of the most esteemed authors out there, like Hemingway, wrote at a 5th grade level. It makes your content easier to understand. Your customer can’t buy your product unless they get it. Check out one of our favorite cards from Imperfect Produce.

Postcard Marketing Experts: Imperfect Produce Front

It’s aggressively clear what they do in 3 seconds to a 5th grader, they send you horrible looking produce.

If you want to measure your readability scores, run it through the Flesch-Kincaid reading test. There are a number of tools, like WebpageFX, which make it easy to get your writing’s Flesch-Kincaid score. The Hemingway app also makes a handy tool that points out where you can cut out the fluff in your writing.  When you have just a short window of time, brevity is key. Make it easier for yourself and ask, would an 11 year-old get this?


One crucial distinction here is to not talk down to your customers. Just because you emphasize brevity in your writing doesn’t mean you need to condescend to them as well. Get a friend or colleague to review the copy to ensure that your copy effectively toes this line. 

Writing CTAs (Call to Actions) for direct mail marketing

Building a good call to action on your postcard requires that you take a step back and strategize. What are you asking your potential customer to do? How do you want them to do it?

With a plan in mind, start writing. Remember that brevity is still key here, so try to use words that cut to the chase. Don’t say crap like “follow us on social media,” no one is compelled by that call to action. Instead, make your wording more actionable and direct.

Double-check to ensure the “why,” “where,” and “how” are evident from your headline, don’t make your customer search for it.

There’s a lot that can go into writing an admittedly small portion of text. But remember, this is likely the very first interaction your customer has had with your product. If you could only say 3-5 words to an 11th grader about what you do, what would they be? Choose wisely.

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