They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And while it doesn’t hurt to have an attractive outside (see my previous blog about designing the outer envelope), the inside is really what makes or breaks any relationship, including that of a mailed offer. There are a lot of components that make a mailpiece effective, and format and layout are definitely two aspects that stand-out. But there’s a lot of science and psychology behind direct mail design, especially the inside of a mailpiece.
Consider the Call to Action (CTA)
This is probably the most important aspect of the piece. Without it, the offer is basically useless, so it makes sense that you’d want to make it prominent and easy to follow. It’s a numbers game; you improve your odds of someone acting when you have the CTA in multiple areas. Place the CTA in “hot spots” where the recipient’s eye naturally tends to go when reading. Some of those areas include the side bar, and multiple places in the copy, including the P.S., which can be the first and sometimes only thing a recipient will look at.
You can also use images and icons to draw the eye to the CTA and offer. The use of graphics adds variety to the form and appeals to visual learners. Photos can work as well, but you have to be careful since they can be distracting and appear too promotional.
It’s All About the Inserts
It’s also important to list the CTA on any inserts because they act as take-aways for the recipient and extend the life of the offer. Inserts give a one-two punch. Before the recipient even knows what’s in the envelope, they’re intrigued by the heft of the envelope, thanks to the added component(s). Brochures, buckslips, cards and other inserts also provide extra space to promote features or explain benefits in more detail without distracting from the offer on the letter.
If you are considering adding an insert to your mailpiece, be sure it is easy to navigate and contains the offer and CTA. That way if the recipient keeps only the insert, they still have the necessary information to act on the offer. Cards are one component that recipients often keep because they are easily carried around and look official. By utilizing the limited space on a card to feature the offer and CTA, you are extending the life of your message.
Keep it Simple
I’m a firm believer in restating the message and offer throughout the mailpiece, but I’m also a big advocate of delivering a straightforward letter that lists key benefits. It goes back to my Fabio idea of giving the recipient what they expect to see when they open the envelope. If the letter becomes a giant block of text, you can break up the copy with bullets and highlights. You can also use a bold type-face to create subheadings, but you need to be sure that bold works well for the font you choose, as some can look distorted or undistinguishable from the rest of the text. You want the recipient to be able to read your message. Keep body text easy to read and appropriate to your audience at a 10-point font minimum.
There are many directions you can go with direct mail design inside the envelope. You literally start with a blank piece of paper. Just remember the basics of what you’re doing: promoting a product or service and getting people to act. Don’t overthink it; you don’t need splashy photos or fancy fonts; just set the frame to let your message be the masterpiece.
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