Short and Sweet – Direct Mail Copy That Captures Attention

What’s one of the keys to creating great direct mail copy? Keeping it short and to the point!

Over the years, the amount of copy used in direct mail campaigns has dropped.  In fact, according to Who’s Mailing What! (WMW!), a national database of direct mail, the amount of copy used in direct mail pieces has dropped by a whopping 62% over the past two decades.

Their findings were based on an analysis of their direct mail database, which consists of pieces shared by their nationwide mail panel. This  information was shared in their report, “Top 21 Direct Mail Trends for 2021.” The report cites Amazon as a prime example:

For years, [Amazon has] been mailing letters to remind Prime members that they’re entitled to watch Prime Video, but there’s a big difference in word count from 2014 to 2021. In the 2021 piece, you see…

  • shorter sentences,
  • much smaller paragraphs, [and]
  • a few bullet points.

This finding is consistent with what we are seeing elsewhere in the direct mail space. Shoppers are busy, and they have limited time to read. Rather than text-heavy copy, more and more mailers are using images, charts, and graphics that readers can digest quickly.

The trend toward shorter copy ties in another trend on WMW!’s list—the growing use of postcards. Direct mail pieces, according to some studies, have about 2 seconds to capture someone’s attention. It’s imperative to get your message across before they move on to something else.

If your direct mail copy — whether a letter, a postcard, or any other marketing piece — looks text-heavy, think about where you might be able to tighten up. Where can you use charts or images to convey your ideas instead of words? Can you break concepts into bullet points? Imagine that you only have half the space to work with — what information can go? We recommend letting copy sit overnight, then come back and edit to reduce word count. Buyers are busy, so make it easy on them.

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