Magic words in direct mail? That seems a little “out there” for such a hardworking marketing tool.

But, yes, there are magic words you can use in direct mail; they’re “magic” because they can cause a dramatic increase in response to your mailing.

The Magic Words of Direct Mail

1. Free

Why not start with the Big Kahuna.

If you can offer a “free” anything—brochure, consultation, first session, lesson, gift of some kind—say so, and use the word “free” liberally. It works.

Bly offers the example of a company that tested two packages: Package A offered a gift. Package B offered a free gift. No surprise, Package B out-performed Package A. Maybe more significantly, people who received Package A wrote in wondering if the gift mentioned in the letter was free.

2. No Obligation

Not quite “free,” but powerful nonetheless. Even more powerful when used together with “free.” If you’re a financial services company that wants to acquire new customers, you may offer a free brochure or initial consultation. If either of those things comes with no obligation, make that perfectly clear. People are more moved by “no strings attached” offers.

3. New

“New” may rank next to “free” in terms of magic words of direct mail, especially in the consumer market. People almost always want to know what the latest, best, different, “must have” thing is.

Bly points out that a different rule applies in B2B direct marketing. Business buyers may indeed be interested in something new. But they also want the reassurance of proven performance. You can solve for this by announcing that a product is new or available to them for the first time after being proven in another country, application, or industry.

4. Details Inside/See Inside

Teasing some feature or benefit on the outer envelope? Then follow with these motivating words. Don’t assume your clever teaser copy, intriguing though it may be, will guarantee that someone opens your direct mail package. Encourage the next step with an assurance that all will be revealed once people read what’s in your envelope.

5. Limited Time Only/Limited Time Offer

Considering all that goes into doing a direct mail package the right way (time, money, data), you want a response now. Without this “the clock’s ticking” phrase as part of the call-to-action, people can feel free to set your mailing aside with the intention of acting on it later. Don’t give them that excuse! Test one of the above phrases or get even more specific by naming a specific deadline (“Offer expires 7/22/21.”).

6. Announcing/At Last

These words are proven attention-getters. People want to be the first to know about the next big thing.

7. No Salesperson Will Call

If you can honestly make this claim, Bly says this phrase can increase response by 10% or more. Even genuine prospects don’t like being called by salespeople. The paradox is those prospects may be more likely to call you if you use this phrase.