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and the 55 factors affecting
your direct mail
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The Factors that improve your sales when advertising via the post, via email or on a web site.

Finding out more:    This set of articles has been developed by Hamilton House Mailings Ltd.  If you would like to discuss any of the factors here, or indeed any other issue relating to marketing via post, email and websites, please do call 01536 399 000.

If you would like to know more about Hamilton House does, please do take a look at www.hamilton-house.com    Alternatively you can email your question to Stephen@hamilton-house.com   There is no charge and no obligation

Terminology: throughout much of this site we use the phrase “direct mail” to include both postal advertising, and email advertising.

List of factors:

  1. 70% Theory – most people don’t throw away or hit delete immediately
  2. Age and illustration
  3. Announcements   - an overused form of advertising that never works.
  4. Be personal  - write your direct mail to one person
  5. Benefits  - as every marketing book says - sell benefits
  6. Brochures - the half way house between leaflet and catalogue - underused but highly valuable
  7. Catalogues - how to stop them being stuck on the shelf
  8. Centre ground - where so much direct mail is directed - but never the best place to be
  9. Citations - important to quote good comments and recommendations, but that is never a reason to lead with them.  The come at the end
  10. Colour  - you may believe colour is always good, but often it isn't
  11. Colour - the effectiveness of individual colours in advertisements
  12. Combining 1 - direct mail plus telephoning 
  13. Combining 2 - email plus direct mail
  14. Commitment of reader - how committed the reader is affects how you have to write
  15. Common sense in advertising and why it doesn’t work
  16. Competitors – knowing all about them
  17. Copywriting - what makes the biggest difference to your response rate?
  18. Cover letters - they don't always work - it depends how you write them
  19. Credibility  - does your customer believe you?
  20. Discounting
  21. The emotional response to advertising
  22. Design - don't just ask the designer for a design
  23. Differentiate advert - make your advert different from that of your rivals
  24. Differentiate product - sell the product in a different way from the way your rivals sell similar products
  25. Do people make buying decisions rationally?
  26. Elaboration likelihood theory - it sounds complex but it isn't and it has a huge impact on how your direct mail works.
  27. Email vs direct mail.  Report on research into attitudes of those who receive direct mail and email.
  28. Emotions - using emotion to sell through direct mail - one of the five key ways.
  29. English – does it make sense - a lot of direct mail is written in a strange variation of the language, and it doesn't work
  30. Envelopes paper or poly - paper is more expensive - but is it worth it?
  31. Envelopes printing on - is there a benefit of printing on the envelope?
  32. Excitement
  33. Exclamation marks, trade marks and other marks - stop using them!!!!!
  34. Fear of advertising
  35. Features - still the way most people write, but normally not a good idea.
  36. Flyers - the simplest form of direct mail, and still effective
  37. Focus Zone - when the reader picks up a piece of direct mail, what does he or she see first?  Probably not what you expect.
  38. Fonts - does the font make a difference?
  39. Fonts - the problem of suddenly changing fonts and adding bold
  40. Getting the reader to take it all in
  41. Grabby image theory - another key theory, and if you get it wrong, your whole direct mail piece will collapse.
  42. Guile and poetry - getting people to read your advertisements requires guile and poetry rather than the language of the high street
  43. Headline - the key issue above all others.  Get the headline wrong and no one will read anything
  44. Hierarchy of Needs theory (Maslow's theory) - what need are you meeting?
  45. Humour in direct mail - get it right and it works a dream.  But it is hard to write.
  46. Individuals – writing to one not many 
  47. Landing pages and why testing it is so important 
  48. Layout and design
  49. Length of copy - the short vs long argument
  50. Lifestyle of your readership - if you don't understand them, you can't sell to them
  51. Mail lists – checking their validity
  52. Number of inserts - the wholly unexpected effects of Interference
  53. One at a time
  54. Order form  - use it as a way to check how each leaflet is selling
  55. Overload Theory - how much to send out
  56. Personalisation - everyone assumes mailmerge helps.  But often it does not.
  57. The psychology of advertising - how the way the brain works can help in the art of persuasion.
  58. Postage class - does it make any difference which class of postage you use?
  59. Price - selling on price.  Yes it works, but at a huge cost.
  60. PS in sales letters - second only in importance to the headline
  61. Questionnaires - how to write them, what affects response rates.
  62. Questions – asking interesting questions
  63. Salutations in sales letters - do they matter
  64. Same email twice? Good or not good?
  65. Short paragraphs - why they help
  66. Short sentences - another key factor.  You must use them.
  67. Signatures in sales letters - helpful or irrelevant?
  68. Slogans - everyone wants to use them, but there may be no point.
  69. Subliminal techniques in email and direct mail advertising
  70. Taking time to produce resources - writing a sales letter takes much longer than you might expect.
  71. Text, illustration and the motivation of the reader.
  72. Titles and names on the envelope.  What difference does it make?
  73. Using the subconscious to your advantage
  74. Voice - an explanation of the theory that small changes to the text can make enormous differences to the response rates.
  75. What is the most effective way of advertising direct?
  76. When to mail - every industry has its timetable
  77. XZ Theory  - one of the earliest theories to emerge in this research and one of the most important.

The themes are taken from the complete list of factors - we have simply gathered them together into obvious groupings.




Back to basics

If you want to go back to the very start then you might want take a look at our three basic laws (click on Start Here if you didn't get to read them). 


Email: Stephen@Hamilton-house.com
Phone: 01536 399 000
Main web site: www.hamilton-house.com