Do Long Sales Letters Still Work?

Marketers packs sales channels full of emails, social media, text messaging, phones, and all other means to prospect for clients.  It sometimes feels like a game of chance to get a message in front of the right eyeballs at the right time, for the ideal number of times. 

One channel that may be ripe for revisiting is long sales letters. Yes, those long pieces often stretch to several pages and arrive via postal mail. At first glance, they can seem like a throwback to the pre-Paleolithic communications era before our collective attention span deteriorated to that of a flea.

But hold on and keep an open mind. Marketers are experimenting with long sales letters again. Long letters don’t work for every single customer or for every product, but they cut through the digital noise and get noticed. And remember, people only have a short attention span when they’re bored. If they’re engaged, they will stick with you. If you send long letters in the right circumstances, they will produce results.

So, what’s the trick for making long sales letters work?

Details Matter

Long-form sales letters must be well-targeted and sent to individuals likely to be interested in the material covered in the letter. The more personalized and segmented you can make your text and images, the better. Constructing such a letter requires a clear understanding of the information prospects need at different points in the buying process. A long sales letter might work best, for example, when prospects are quite far along their sales journey. An information-filled letter may help close a deal. 

Here’s an article with some ideas about how to personalize your sales letters: “Personalized Direct Mail Tips and Tricks.”

As you compose long sales letters, share facts about you and your company with clients or prospects. Show them what your product or service will do for them. Clearly identify the benefits they can expect to reap. Content is very important and should focus on the client. Reinforce a prospect’s inclination to do business with you. Be truthful, not sales pitchy, and show them you understand their business, their pain points, and their challenges.

Write clearly in a conversational tone. Long sales letters work best when they read like one human talking to another, are free of jargon, and don’t seem mass-produced. Target and customize the letter as much as possible and use language and structure that you know will resonate with your clients. This is an opportunity to build trust and credibility.

Sales letters should be easy to read and inviting to the eye with short paragraphs and a readable font. Use subheads and bullet points to break up a sea of black type. Headlines should confer benefits, and subheads should pique interest. Include a pull quote to highlight a pertinent point, which can pull a reader into a story. People feel more comfortable making a purchase that is satisfactory to other buyers. Testimonials provide the necessary assurance.

Acknowledge any concerns a client may have and outline facts to overcome their reservations.

Don’t forget your call to action, which you should repeat throughout the letter!

Timing is Everything

By connecting your CRM system to Postalytics, you can send long sales letters at the ideal time for each prospect. With Postalytics, you don’t have to send large batches of letters, though that’s always an option. You can send a single letter at any time, with no increase in price. This allows you to contact customers with compelling sales letters at critical times, such as policy renewal dates, warranty coverage expirations, birthdays, anniversaries, and more.

See our blog article “Profiting from Triggered Direct Mail Automation.”

Don’t get hung up on length. Take the time and space to make your case convincingly. The client most interested in buying from you wants all the information they can get to bolster a decision that may be just a few degrees from being finalized. A long letter packed with meaty details is often just the thing to motivate a prospect and close a deal.

Long sales letters can deliver much more detail than you would ever include in a postcard or an email message. Use the space to build convincing arguments supported by facts and use cases. Include charts and graphs if appropriate.

What’s Old is New Again

Long sales letters, once a staple in every marketer’s arsenal, is now considered more novel and radical, so they stand out. Test this approach and track the results.

Writing long sales letters takes a certain skill that can be sharpened as you become more practiced at it. It may take a little longer to craft an engaging sales letter than it does to whip off 10 social media posts, but the results will be worth it.