Using Direct Mail “Grabbers” to Boost Response

A direct mail "grabber" like this wooden nickel can boost your response rates.

Write Profits Newsletter - October 2012

When sending out a direct mail campaign, the most important measure of its success is its response rate...that’s the ratio of responses you get from a target group in proportion to the number of mailings that were sent out to that group.  

A tactic that some direct response marketers use to boost response rates is what is known as a “grabber” item on their letter. Essentially, a grabber is a small item that’s affixed to your letter for the sole purpose of “grabbing” your reader’s attention. Common examples are: rubber bands, nickels, puzzle pieces, scratcher cards and small charms. That's not an excuse to affix just anything to your sales letter though. Your grabber piece needs to be congruent to the overall message or theme of your sales letter otherwise you run the risk of coming across as "spammy."

Anatomy of a Prospect’s Attention Span

It’s been well documented that the flow of your prospect’s eye movement when examining a direct mail piece takes the following path:

  • Images. Their eyes immediately go to any graphics (or grabbers) because they can extract information quicker from a visual than from text.
  • Headline. Next, their eyes move over to the headline because that serves to give context and meaning to the image.
  • Body. Finally, if both of the prior steps have captivated the reader enough; then they’ll read the actual copy of the letter.

Why Grabbers Increase Response

Adding a grabber to your direct mail piece increases your response in two ways: 1) it creates enough curiosity and interest for the reader to read your headlines and if your copy is well-written, it should compel your prospect to take action on your offer; and 2) grabbers also give your mail piece a “lumpy factor” which creates enough curiosity for the recipient to want to open up the envelope, thus improving your open rate of your mailing.  


About the Author

Tristan Loo is a Copywriter and Marketing Strategist based out of San Diego, California. His passion is helping businesses of all shapes and sizes generate more sales through better written communication. To contact Tristan, click here.


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