No, direct mail isn’t dead.
In fact, it can have up to 1,300% ROI.
Don’t you want results like that?
Then you need to understand how to write a good sales letter.
It’s one of the most effective pieces of direct mail advertising a business can use to reach customers.
However, a lot of businesses piece together a sales letter quickly and mail it out to a huge list but see no results.
Why is this?
Simply because they didn’t format it correctly or write good enough copy.
Let’s avoid that. Follow along as I teach you how to write epic sales letters that practically print money.
What is a sales letter?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s cover our fundamentals.
The definition of a sales letter is the following:
A piece of mail that is sent directly to a potential customer which persuades them to purchase a product.
It’s one of the oldest forms of advertising yet remains very effective.
Often a business will create its own list overtime which consists of their customer base. Promotions are then sent to these individuals via physical mail.
Some companies will purchase lists of existing customers to send their sales letters to, as well.
And that’s the first step…
You need to ensure that you have a highly targeted audience that would convert well when sent your sales letter or you’ll fall on deaf ears.
Presuming you’re at the step in which you have a mailing list at your disposal, we can move onto the next step which is the writing sales letter.
Sales letter copywriting
Direct response copywriting is much different than other forms of copywriting.
It requires precision, research, and experience to write business material that can entice customers to whip out their credit cards on the spot.
Reaching this point takes years.
But, you’re in luck. I’ve already spent years practicing copywriting so I’ll show you the ropes.
Let’s begin with the headline.
Sales letter headlines
David Ogilvy, one of my all-time favorite advertisers, once said the following quote:
You need to look at headlines and titles as getting your foot in the door.
If your headline sucks, nobody is going to read the rest of the copy.
And if nobody reads the copy, you make no money.
That’s why you need to use the following headline writing strategies. Check out my previous guide on headline writing tactics here to learn about these in-depth.
Create a sense of urgency
Some of the most primitive human emotions are scarcity, urgency, and fear.
We can take advantage of this as advertisers by creating urgent headlines.
This strategy makes customers feel like they need to take immediate action or they will not get the opportunity again.
Here’s an example of this technique used on a coupon website:
The statement “Don’t Miss Out” directly communicates to customers that they shouldn’t wait before taking advantage of Thegoodstuff’s Cyber Monday deals as they may not be available later.
You can create urgent headlines like this for a sales letter by using the following power words and phrases:
- Don’t wait
- Don’t miss out
- Limited time
- Limited offer
- While supply lasts
- Low inventory
- Only a few left in stock
Don’t be vague, be ultra specific
Vague and generic headlines don’t tell customers anything.
They are boring and will make them want to throw out your sales letter faster than they opened it.
That’s why ultra specific headlines work so well.
You can sum up the benefit of the product you’re selling or promotion within the headline.
This gets the reader interested and diving into the rest of the copy which ultimately leads to the sale.
Check out the headline to this article to see what I mean:
Leaving out that statistic would’ve made their content generic and unappealing.
By stating a specific number, it generates more interest as readers will want to learn more about how this number was reached.
Next time you’re crafting a headline for a sales letter, make it as specific as possible.
State the customer’s pain points
Why do people purchase products? Because of emotions.
They play a much larger role in the purchasing process than most realize.
Products solve problems. It’s as simple as that. And problems typically involve emotions and notable experiences.
This is what sparks a customer to look for a solution in the first place.
You can bring out relevant emotions and thoughts with headlines by mentioning one the pain points of the audience.
The headline used on this website for weight loss pills is a solid example:
People struggling to lose weight often have trouble controlling cravings and maintaining improvements.
That’s why mentioning these experiences in the headline before a call to action is brilliant.
It will make the customer feel the emotions related to their problem and the button to purchase the product is positioned as the solution.
The exact same approach can be used for sales letters.
Mention a pain point that the product you’re selling fixes in the form of a statement or question.
Then, add a call to action at the end of the sales letter, whether it’s a phone number, website, or mailing address to buy the product.
Sales letter copywriter techniques
With the headline out of the way, you can now begin writing the body of the sales letter.
There are a few copywriting formulas I recommend using which include the following.
This acronym stands for attention, interest, desire, and action.
The formula consists of grabbing the attention of the customer, making them interested in reading more, creating a desire for the product, and having them take action.
Attention is created with an awesome headline. Use one of the strategies I just taught you to get their eyes glued to the page.
Furthermore, look at how this sales letter from Popular Mechanics promises a free DIY encyclopedia within the headline to capture attention:
Anyone that enjoys DIY projects would be drooling to learn more!
Interest is then created within the first paragraph by making a bold statement. Using the words “deadbeats” and “rip-off artists” made the writing sound powerful and intriguing.
Focusing the attention toward the reader with phrases such as “Guys like you.” and “let me ship you Volume I FREE” builds up desire.
The rest of the sales letter includes instructions for placing an order which solves the action part of the formula, as well.
Pain + agitate + solve
An absolutely classic.
There’s no copywriting formula used more than PAS.
It’s simple. It’s easy to implement. And it works really damn well.
The general idea is that you present a pain point which customers are experiencing, agitate it, and then position your product as the solution.
This works because it gets customers feeling emotional, thinking deeply about their issue, and then your product is more tempting than the golden idol from Indiana Jones.
Here’s a sales letter example which uses this technique:
PREVENTION was a health magazine that helped their readers live a healthier lifestyle.
The sales letter speaks about noticing the number of chemicals found in foods and wondering what the negative effects are. This is the pain point of readers.
It continues to elaborate on potential threats and dangers to the reader’s health which is the agitation stage.
Finally, it positions the magazine as the solution for combating health problems and making more informed decisions about diet.
Other sales letter tips to keep in mind
Before the end of today’s article, I’d like to offer you these strategies and tips to improve the performance of your sales letter.
Have a clear buyers persona
A buyers persona is an outline of your ideal customer.
It typically covers their demographics, interests, values, feelings, and as much detail as possible.
You can then craft a sales letter tailored to this exact audience which improves conversion rates up to 73%.
Think about it.
If you send out a sales letter to a random mailing list, you’re going to be speaking to random individuals that may not be interested in the product.
However, aligning a buyers persona with both the copy and list will drastically improve results.
Here’s a buyers persona template you can fill out yourself:
Just because it’s physical mail doesn’t mean you can’t split test
Split testing is a normal process in all forms of copywriting.
It allows advertisers to find winning combinations of headlines, calls to action, and other elements of their sales letter.
This is why I suggest split testing these components and others like images.
You can send out a few different versions of a sales letter to a mailing list one at a time.
Record the performance of each campaign and determine if one generates more revenue than the others.
If so, you can effectively double down and mail that out to a much larger list to rack in the big bucks!
Take advantage of testimonials
An interesting statistic you may not know is that testimonials impact 67.7% of purchasing decisions.
They act as social proof which builds trust with potential customers.
This is why testimonials can be a great addition to a sales letter for increasing conversion rates.
You must first ask previous customers for a testimonial about their experience with your product and service.
Take these and include the best ones in your sales letter. You can add them after speaking about the benefits of the product to testify its effectiveness.
Final thoughts on writing sales letters
Direct mail is an effective and cost-efficient approach to generating sales.
It takes very good copywriting to pull off great results, though.
Writing a sales letter begins with the headline. You need to use urgency, ultra specific statements, and emotion to capture attention.
Then, using a formula like those I outlined earlier help craft the body of a sales letter that gets customers itching to buy.
You need to end every sales letter with a clear call to action, as well. This might be to call a phone number or visit a website, for example.
Doing these things will result in a sales letter that practically generates free money.
What are you waiting for? Start writing a sales letter today with these strategies and watch the cash roll in!