How to get your direct mail piece, opened, read and acted on

The first 20 seconds makes all the different – here’s how to win once your mailer gets delivered.

Do you want to have a guess about the most important aspect in the life of a sales piece?

If you’ve read the subheadline, you shouldn’t be that surprised: it’s the first 20 seconds.

From the moment your prospect comes across your sales piece in their letterbox or on their kitchen table, you’ve got about 20 seconds to make the desired impact, and what your piece does in those first 20 seconds can make or break your campaign.

Here’s what happens in the first 20 seconds:

  • Your prospect looks at your piece, takes in the address, the return address and looks at the envelope.  If it passes the initial inspection, it gets opened.  This process lasts about 8 seconds.
  • Once it’s opened, your prospect decided within just FOUR seconds whether it’s worth their time even scanning through it.
  • If they decide it’s worth scanning it, that’s exactly what they’ll do, skimming the piece and reading the headlines and looking at any pictures and captions – this lasts another 8 seconds.

And that’s it.  If your piece has done its job, you’ll have bought some time with your prospect, but if it hasn’t then it’s probably all over.

High stakes eh?

So what can you do to make those first 20 seconds as effective as possible?

Well, let’s just start by focusing on the first 8. Here are a few pointers:

Tease and tantalise

During those first eight seconds, you’ve got to get your envelope opened, and a great way to do this is to tease and tantalise your prospect about what’s inside.

Putting some ‘teaser copy’ on the outside of the envelope can pique your prospect’s interest and make them curious enough to open your mailer.

Return for better return

The return address is one of the key ways to get your mail opened.  If your prospect looks at it and sees a faceless, corporate entity, then that diminishes your chance of getting the envelope opened, so be sure to put something that either elicits curiosity or makes them feel a sense of familiarity.

Grab them

If you’re not mailing your sales piece in an envelope, then your headline needs to do the job of piquing interest in the first eight seconds, so it’s well worth spending a significant amount of time creating the right headline.

Remember the 80/20 rule – of all the people that read your headline, only 20% will read your copy.  Your job is to get that percentage as high as possible by teasing, tantalising and promising the result they want (as long as you can deliver it of course!)

Like it and lump it

This one works.  If you’re mailing an envelope, put something lumpy inside it and it will significantly increase the intrigue your prospect has when they pick up your piece.  And – you’ve guessed it – more intrigue results in more opens.

And if you do the rest of it right, more opens means more sales.

Good luck!

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