Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > The Contents of a Direct Mail Pack

The Contents of a Direct Mail Pack

A direct mail-out pack should be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle pieced together, with each part contributing its little bit towards your campaign's overall success.

As with a jigsaw, a missing piece or a piece that doesn't fit with the rest of your mail pack can have a negative impact on its success.

Your group's direct mail-out needs to have all its pieces in place before it is posted to members, volunteers, donors, fundraisers or contacts and that means you need to be aware of the sorts of items that combine to form an effective package.

Contents of the "classic" mail pack

A classic or traditional direct mail pack has four components:
  1. The envelope
  2. The letter
  3. The brochure or accompanying information
  4. The response device - through which the recipient communicates with your group.  This can be part of either the letter or the brochure.

Not all direct mail-outs need to conform to this style and of course other items can also be included.

This help sheet looks at the contents of the traditional direct mail pack and links to help sheets containing more details about each individual element.

First impressions - The envelope

A good first impression is important and the envelope, being the first thing received, is your primary salesperson.

A brightly coloured or oddly-shaped envelope, possibly with an interesting message on it, is more likely to be opened before the usual bills and other daily mail.

Your envelope should be clear and striking, possibly with some enticing text on it to encourage the recipient to delve further into the contents.

Name of the recipient should be clear, with spelling and address details correct.

Research indicates that a stamped letter is more likely to be opened than one that is not stamped, or just franked.

Envelope size and colour can attract attention and although they can sometimes add slightly to the cost of your mail-out, improved results could well justify the expense.
For more information on what you can do with envelopes, refer to the Help Sheets Pushing the Envelope and Power of Personalisation

Carrying your message - The Letter

The letter is the most important component in the mail pack.

Its content communicates your message, tells your group's members, volunteers, fundraisers or donors why they should support you and draws mail recipients into reading further.

A clear, well-written letter will do wonders for your direct mail-out campaign. But a poorly-written or confusing letter will simply result in your direct mail-out ending up in the bin.

Generally, your letter should be made up of:
  • A greeting and introductory paragraph.
  • The body of the letter or a number of paragraphs that further explain the message you are sending out.
  • A concluding paragraph to sum up, and
  • A post script (P.S.) to reiterate the offer or reason behind the direct mail-out.
There are a number of components that make a successful, readable letter. More information on these components can be found in the help sheet: Creating direct mail - Creating an effective direct mail letter.

Some quick tips to remember when composing your letter are:
  • Speak personally to the letter recipient. Talk to the individual and make the letter sound as if it has been written to them. Address the reader directly, in the second person, by using 'you' and including their name where appropriate.
  • Use the letter to emphasise how the recipient will benefit from supporting your work or service.
  • Make the letter easy to read. Use white space and simple language; break it up with short sentences and paragraphs, plenty of headings, sub-headings and bullet points.
  • Make sure your letter flows logically.
  • Talk to the recipient about what your group can offer, or how their support will benefit what your does and those it represents.
  • Always add a P.S. or post script. The headline at the top and the P.S. at the bottom are the first things that people look at. Use the P.S. to reiterate your main offer.

The brochure or background and accompanying information

Not every direct mail-out needs an actual brochure; often a simple information sheet or flyer can do the job.

Accompanying information, in any form, serves the purpose within your direct mail out of providing additional material about your group or what the direct mail is about.

This information can come in a variety of forms:
  • A brochure
  • A flyer
  • Annual reports or summaries of annual reports.
  • Testimonials and lift-letters from third parties.
  • Recent speech transcripts.
  • Recent newspaper articles.
These items could be kept for some time by those who receive them, so they should be capable of standing alone from the letter and be able to be read separately.  For this reason it's important that they also feature your group's name and contact details.

For more information on the types of background material you can include in your direct mail-out, refer to the help sheet Background material for a direct mail campaign, available at the Media and Marketing Centre of the Our Community website.

Getting a response (1) - Response devices

A response device is simply the means by which those receiving your mail can reply to you.

If your direct mail is about attracting a response, then the method you supply for doing so needs to be simple and you need to actively encourage that response.

There are a number of different response devices, depending on the direct mail you are doing, and many of them are essentially the reason for your group conducting a mail-out campaign.

For example:
  • Raffle tickets are a response device vital if your group is staging a raffle.
  • RSVP details or forms can be crucial if your group is staging a function, working bee or other attendance-based function.
  • Membership forms or renewal forms for a group on a membership drive.
Other types of response devices, while less event-specific, also aim at eliciting a response in a variety of ways:
  • A section of your mail-out brochure or newsletter that can be detached and filled in for membership applications and renewals.
  • A section set aside for people to fill in and return if they wish to donate.
  • Surveys or questionnaires to gather information.
  • Invitations for comment - can be as simple as a line in your newsletter asking "Any comments or suggestions? Send them here".

Getting a response (2) - The Reply Paid Envelope

The easier it is for the recipients to reply, the more responses you will receive.

One useful tool to encourage response is the inclusion of a Reply Paid Envelope.

The Reply Paid Envelope is exactly that - an envelope addressed back to your group with its postage already paid.
Reply Paid is a cost-effective way to:
  • Increase responses to your direct mail campaigns
  • Build goodwill with your customers
  • Provide an easy response mechanism
Reply Paid Envelopes can be included in a number of your direct mail-outs especially if your group is on a membership or recruitment drive, or if it is seeking donations or replies to invitations or requests.

Remember, the easier you make it to reply, the higher your response rate will be.
For more information on response devices and seeking responses to your direct mail, refer to the help sheets Background material for a direct mail campaign and Remember to seek a response.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.