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What Makes a Good Direct Mail CTA?

Among experienced direct marketing professionals, effective direct mail campaigns are comprised of three main components:

  • Targeting to get your message into the right hands
  • Messaging that convinces the prospect to want your product/service by presenting the benefits and supporting features
  • an Offer to motivate prospects to act now (FOMO)

But there is another key element that shouldn’t be overlooked – the Call To Action (CTA).

The CTA is essential to your direct mail campaign because it tells your prospects how to engage with your brand. And combining your CTA with an offer that just-can’t-be-refused can drive response rates up. Looking to get your target to sign up or subscribe? Take advantage of a free trial? Learn more? Or download information? How do you know what the right direct mail CTA is for your business? The answer is a combination of strategy and creativity.

Consider the following:

  • Your business/sales goals
  • Your target audience
  • Your competitors

Business/Sales Goals

Establishing the why behind your direct mail campaign will help focus your CTA and message. Direct mail is a successful channel for a number of business objectives/goals, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Increasing leads
  • Growing sales
  • Customer retention
    • Winning back churned customers

Target Audience

Customer research and/or modeling helps segment your audiences to gain a deeper understanding of their motivations. The more you know about your audience, the better you can appeal to them and compel them into action. In general, CTAs should be:

  • Easy to do
    • Memorable and special
  • Personal
  • Benefit-oriented
  • Urgent


How will you influence your prospects to respond to your CTA instead of your competitors’? Auditing the competition’s marketing initiatives and product/services will help you differentiate your brand’s direct mail efforts and make them more user-friendly. What are your competitors doing well and where do they drop the ball?

Paths to Response

Once you’ve clarified what it is that you want your prospects to do, it’s time to determine how you’ll ask them to do it. There are many paths to choose from, however, select just one or two per campaign. Most importantly, the response path will provide much of your campaign attribution and analysis, so make sure it’s effective and doable for your organization.

Web: A popular approach with good attribution may include landing pages with a vanity URL or a Personalized URL (PURL) that’s unique to the recipient and campaign. 

Phone: Phone CTAs are also widely used and preferred by prospects particularly for products or services that are relatively complex or expensive. Phone responders are also more likely to convert than responders through other channels.

Voice: An innovation in response is a Voice Activated Call to Action (VACTA). As the use of smart speakers explodes, voice response will become a more common tactic.

App Download: Well-used among tech companies, free downloads can be both a CTA and offer.

Quick Response Code (QR): Prospects scan a barcode to receive a web link on their mobile device.

Branch/Store: Prospects are instructed to visit a branch or store for a personal connection and real time transactions.

Business Reply Envelope or Card (BRE/C): BREs are especially useful for physical products like magazines. 

Text: Respond to text allows prospects to quickly and easily access information.

At its very best, direct mail is a motivator. It makes things happen. Running on all cylinders, its meeting business objectives, generating leads, and making sales. Many components go into a successful direct mail campaign, but the right CTA will drive the response you seek.

Mike Gunderson, Founder and CEO, Gunderson Direct

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

About Gunderson Direct

Gunderson Direct is an advanced agency partner specializing in helping businesses drive leads and close business through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail. We offer focused expertise to a select set of clients. We specialize in cultivating successful, long-term client engagements that naturally lead to strong referral business. We leverage our deep expertise and smart, performance-driven strategies to exceed your marketing goals.

This post is part of Speedeon’s Content Partnership Program. The opinions expressed by the guest writer are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Speedeon Data or any employee thereof. Speedeon Data is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Guest writer. This work is the opinion of the guest writer.