Sales letters can be very powerful if written well and bring you significant increase in sales when used as part of well targeted direct mail strategy.
By using the checklist below you can write your own effective marketing sales letter and save the money to buy more contacts to sent it to.
I use that same list to proof my own sales letters before release.
If you are not sure how to put together direct mail campaign refer to my article here.
Without further ado I present you the list I have compiled from reading numerous marketing articles and a few books and testing by practical application. There is some overlap between the points, but hopefully this just underlines their importance.
Effective sales letter checklist
1) Headline – what is in for the customer – compelling promise on which we deliver
2) Immediate clear benefit for the intended customer
3) Build reader’s trust
4) It should make generous use of “you and yours” to make clear that the customer comes first not the desire to sell
5) Be upfront and bold about promising a prize or a tangible reward in exchange for time and attention. Forget cute or clever lead-ins. Begin by simply explaining “WIFM,” or “What’s in it for me?”
6) Should address the customer by name and need
7) Build trust – high profile endorsements and testimonials
8) You need to establish credibility and be believable by the second paragraph. This is where you explain who you are, why you’re so cool (or smart or cheap or special or useful), and what you have to offer. How you package that information, of course, varies with your targets and your products. Some options: Avoid being long-winded or boring in this “credentials” section”. Be unique. Don’t just offer some generalized statement.”
9) Make it memorable – include reasons for your customers to spend more time with the letter and therefore more time considering your offer. For example, a computer repair service might include the top ten tips for PC
10) Emphasize good looks – Make it easy to navigate so your reader reaches for it first—ahead of the competition’s.” With Microsoft Publisher, part of MS Office, you can easily create professional-looking templates for your sales letter that use your company logo, branding, and colours.
11) Include a call to action – Inform the reader about what he or she should do next “An example is: ‘Please call me on my cell phone (0800-555-0000) before Friday, the 28th.'” Or, say you’ll follow up with a phone call or more material. Then, of course, make sure you do. You can include some sort of urgency call – e.g. as we are offering exclusivity to a specific area to each franchisee it is in your interest to reply as soon as you can in case there are more than one applications for the same area.
12) Include an incentive/deadline – Always explain when, why, and how customers should act. “Then include an incentive for acting sooner, such as a discount, special offer or something free.”
13) Try to customize the letter specifically to the individual Tap your database for information about a customer’s sales history and preferences. Then send specialized letters whenever it’s appropriate. “If you notice it’s been six months since a customer has been in, it might be time for a friendly ‘We miss you’ letter with an offer specific to that customer,”
14) Forge connections Similarly, don’t get caught up in pushing services or products. You want to develop a long-term relationship with the customer, not pressure him or her into one discounted sale. Use your letter to investigate whether you can solve customer problems or meet needs. Try to build a relationship that will last into the future
15) Test. Test. Test. – When you’re planning a bulk mailing, in contrast to a selected best-customer target, send out a few versions of the sales letter to small groups of targets. Then see what pulls.
16) Hit the right notes “Your letter should sound like you,” If your style is casual and informal, you don’t want to create a stiff pitch letter, filled with bizspeak and corporate jargon. Match your letter to the way you do business
17) Sell benefits, not features – if you have a bike with internal hub gears targeted a commuter don’t try to push the feature (internal hub) but its benefits – easy gear change at traffic lights and less mess.
18) Before sending out the letters, calculate the highest possible response you can handle. You wouldn’t want to create the perfect pitch and then be unable to fulfill all the orders that come flooding in.
19) Postscript (P.S.) is your friend!
Case studies indicate that the typical letter recipient’s eye moves down the page to the P.S. before they read everything in the letter! Try to restate your proposition in the P.S.
20) Use white space.
Readers are often turned off by large gobs of text. Try to use short paragraphs, and bullets and/or numbered lists. Give the reader some breathing room!
21) Make a “no-risk” offer.
Offer the recipient something – and make it no risk. Offer free information, an article, some industry tips, free tutorial, or product sample.
22) Include a guarantee.
If you can offer a guarantee – be it your follow-up, delivery, customer service, or pricing – do it. By offering a guarantee, you offer integrity and credibility to your products/services.
23) HOPPP – Headline, Offer, Proof, Persuade to action, P.S.
24) People buy more on emotion than logic – write your letter in terms of feelings, not just hard cold facts – you want the facts but express them in warm personal way
The 2 below are specifically for email marketing:
26) Saturday has the highest email CTR at over 9% (Sunday is second just under 9%) – target your campaigns so they reach recipient at this time
27 ) Adding social sharing buttons to email messages an increase click-through rates by more than 150%.
28) Start with the prospect—not the product – avoid “manufacturer’s copy”—copy that is vendor-oriented, that stresses who we are, what we do, our corporate philosophy and history, and the objectives of our firm. You and your products are not important to the prospect. The reader opening your sales letter only wants to know, “What’s in it for me? How will I come out ahead by doing business with you vs. someone else?”
29) Use the magic words:
- Say free brochure. Not brochure. Say free consultation. Not initial consultation. Say free gift. Not gift.
- No Obligation. Important when you are offering anything free. If prospects aren’t obligated to use your firm’s wastewater treatment services after you analyze their water sample for free, say so. People want to be reassured that there are no strings attached.
- No salesperson will call. If true, a fantastic phrase that can increase response by 10% or more. Most people, including genuine prospects, hate being called by salespeople over the phone. Warning: Don’t say “no salesperson will call” if you do plan to follow up by phone. People won’t buy from liars.
- Details inside/See inside. One of those should follow any teaser copy on the outer envelope. You need a phrase that directs the reader to the inside.
- Limited time only. People who put your mailing aside for later reading or file it will probably never respond. The trick is to generate a response now. One way to do it is with a time-limited offer, either generic (“This offer is for a limited time only.”), or specific (“This offer expires 9/20/01.”). Try it!
- Announcing/At last. People like to think they are getting in on the ground floor of a new thing. Making your mailing an announcement increases its attention-getting powers.
- “New” is sheer magic in consumer mailings. But it’s a double-edged sword in industrial mailings. On the one hand, business and technical buyers want something new. On the other hand, they demand products with proven performance.
How to articles
The 12 worst mistakes of direct mail letters:
Some examples of powerful openings:
“Which produces the best ad results—800 phone number? company phone? coupon? no coupon?”—from a letter selling ad space in Salesman’s Opportunity magazine.
“14 things that can go wrong in your company—and one sure way to prevent them”—an envelope teaser for a mailing that sold a manual on internal auditing procedures.
“A special invitation to the hero of American business”—from a subscription letter for Inc. magazine.
“Can 193,750 millionaires be wrong?”—an envelope teaser for a subscription mailing for Financial World magazine.
“Dear Friend: I’m fed up with the legal system. I want to change it, and I think you do, too.”—the lead paragraph of a fund-raising letter.
Some time-tested opening gambits for effective sales letters include:
- asking a provocative question;
- going straight to the heart of the reader’s most pressing problem or concern;
- arousing curiosity;
- leading off with a fascinating fact or incredible statistic; and
- Stating the offer up-front, especially if it involves money; saving it, getting something for an incredibly low price, or making a free offer.
I will end up by following my own advice and finish with PS and a Call to Action!
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