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September 23, 2016

The Anatomy of an Awesome Financial Services Letter

A successful direct mail strategy requires you to do more than just stuff a letter in an envelope. Every piece of mail is an extension of your company’s brand and footprint, so it is important to ensure that your messaging and presentation is in sync with your digital presence. You need to focus on creating an overall experience for a reader. Much like email, when postal mail is not thoughtful, every piece sent sets expectations for your recipients to filter it as spam. But when done well, it is a tool that can help your company capture attention and peak interest. That’s why we’ve written this guide—to help you create better mailings at scale.

1. Use a letter

Financial services companies often have a lot of information to communicate to their readers. It may be tough to articulate your full value proposition on a postcard. Consider sending a letter instead. Take a look at the following example from Lob Finance, a business funding provider, which includes many elements to help the recipient make a decision.

Highlights include:

  • A sidebar that includes product features
  • A large call-to-action (CTA) that makes it easy to apply
  • An explainer for why the person is a good fit for the offer
  • A sample check to make the product feel more real

2. Quickly capture attention

When sending direct mail, knowing your audience is crucial. Your audiences don’t have time to read through messages that aren’t tailored to their specific needs. Instead of sending a generic message, show your recipients that your company cares. Give them a reason to pay attention.

Follow the AIDA formula. Attention. Interest. Desire. Action. Start grabbing your recipient’s attention by using a clear and and compelling offer. Once you have engaged the recipient enough to keep reading, your mail piece should build interest in what you are offering. By personalizing the mail piece so that it relates to the recipient own life, you will increase your his or her curiosity and desire to purchase your product. Once you’ve created a desire amongst the recipient, you need a powerful call to action to tell your recipient what to do next.

Take a look at the following letter from Lob Finance, a company that specializes in consumer-friendly loans, which speaks to the pain that many millennials feel regarding their student loans

Compelling language such as “cut your interest rates in half” and “cut rates in half” are attention grabbing because they help audiences see a clear and immediate benefit. Other keyword ideas to try?

  • “Get financially fit”
  • “Get approved”
  • “You're pre-qualified”

Make sure that your messaging is tailored to the needs that they’re likely to have. Even something as simple as acknowledging your reader by name and speaking to products that they might find interesting will take you far in your strategy. Using tools like Lob, you can easily customize your mailer based on your audience. For example, if your audience is people who recently bought houses, you can target them with mortgage offers instead of a generic loans.

3. Curate the presentation of information

Make sure that your look, feel, and communicated information are on point with what your target audience wants to read. Demographic factors will influence the visual elements that you choose to include. If you’re appealing to a millennial demographic, you may want to keep your text shorter and easier to skim (i.e. limited attention spans because this group tends to be time-strapped). Take a look at this example from Lob Home Loans, which uses direct mail to promote its mortgage products.

Highlights

  • The value proposition is visible off the bat
  • There are bulleted numbers to make the letter easily digestible
  • There is a deadline, to inspire urgency
  • The anticipated return on investment for the recipient is clear
  • The letter is personalized and tailored to an in-the-moment need
  • To encourage transparency with the customer, the mailer provides key customer details

4. Include a clear call to action

Your audiences are busy—and they’re not as familiar with your products as you are. What exactly is the call to action (CTA) that you want them to follow? Make sure that you have a clear answer to this question with a path forward towards a conversion goal. Do you want them to visit a physical store location? Would you like them to fill out a form, or log into their accounts? Make sure to have a clear and easily measurable set of instructions. Take a look at how Lob Finance, a payday loan alternative service, exemplifies this best practice.

Some more ideas:

  • Link your readers to blog posts or resources on your website
  • If you’re educating your audience about a feature or product, consider sending an information brochure
  • Consider adding a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section to eliminate friction that mind inhibit conversions
  • Make sure that your CTA is clear and obvious (refer back to the Swift Capital example, which features a “2 Easy Ways to Apply” section in the middle of the page)
  • Create an incentive with a promotional code
  • Create a sense of urgency, similar to the Lob Home Loans example, to encourage recipients to take action

5. Show real results

Make sure that the value proposition that you have to offer is human. Line up resources internally so that your company is prepared to answer any and all questions.Give your recipients the confidence that you care about their success. Let’s say that you’re sending out a loan offer, for instance. If you want your recipients to take action, show them exactly what they’re going to get from working with your company.

If you take a look at the mailer, we showed you in the previous section, to help build trust with letter recipients, Lob Finance includes testimonials from real customers. This subtle addition adds credibility to the company’s brand image while also helping recipients view outcomes more tangibly. In a nutshell, it’s a strategy that makes a direct mailing strategy more human.

Final Thoughts

It’s tougher than ever to capture your audience’s attention span via direct mail. But when you do, the outcome is well-worth it. Just take a look at this stats roundup: the U.S. Postal Service tells us that (1) people like direct mail and (2) unlike email, people pay attention to it. When you get direct mail right, you’ll build an engaged audience.

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