Direct Mail: The Evolution of Copy Length

May 18, 2022

Over the years, the length of text, or copy as we like to call it, in direct mail has evolved. Deciding whether to use short or long copy on postcards, self-mailers, envelopes, letters, etc. is a hot topic in the marketing world. The length of copy may be best determined by the format of the piece, the industry of the business, the product or service, audience preferences, or performance results.

BlueWing, a Darwill company, helps dental practices in selecting the best option based on the factors listed above to deliver the best results per piece. Keep reading to learn more about the change in copy length over the years and the tips we recommend.

How Attention Spans Impact Direct Mail Copy

There has been a significant decrease in consumer attention spans in the last decade. Average attention spans have gone down by 50% which directly impacts how content is consumed. Now consumers only spend seconds to a couple of minutes looking at content. A great example of this comes from social media. With apps like Tik Tok that have short videos, we have become accustomed to shorter content and quickly scrolling to get to the next thing. The same can be seen in direct mail and the attention span for reading it.

Consumers, including your practice’s patients, are scanning the piece to collect and digest the most important information. For example, your patients are most likely looking to see 1. what type of care they have scheduled next, i.e., cleaning, root canal, filling, etc., 2. the date and time of the appointment, and 3. other big announcements from your practice, such as office relocation, holiday closings, or the addition of new staff members.

This means that we as marketers need to craft captivating mail pieces that are quickly digestible and deliver all the necessary information within the first few seconds to make an impact. As we adjust marketing to align with decreasing attention spans, we’ve noticed the rise in short copy. Short, informative copy does a great job at getting your message across before attention is focused elsewhere.

Tips on Using Short and Long Copy

Although we are seeing that short copy is performing better on pieces such as letters and postcards, there may still be times when your practice needs to use long copy. No matter the length, BlueWing is here to help write engaging copy that raises response rates and increases patient volume. We strategically choose what copy is used and how it is laid out to keep the patient engaged and moving through the piece.

Short Copy

Short copy performs well on postcards, envelopes, and self-mailers. The average word count in postcards, envelopes, and self-mailers has decreased by 124.22%, 30.13%, and 29.24% in the last 20 years. When using short copy, we advise sticking with the “need to know” details. This means keeping key details such as appointment date and time as well as personalization. In this approach, we take away any “fluff” that is not necessary to the main goal of the piece.

Staying concise allows the patient to stay focused and gather all the information in time before moving on. How the copy is laid out will also be important to capture the patient’s eye. Headlines, font size, font formatting, and font color also play a role in the success of the piece. For example, handwritten text adds a personal touch and is known to improve response rates.

Long Copy

While short copy is on the rise, there may be cases where you need to use long copy. Big announcements like a practice merger, office relocation, or expanding staff, often require more information to be provided. This news would work best with long copy in a letter format. While longer copy makes sense here, how it's laid out will be a big determining factor of how successful it is.

We strategically break up long copy with headlines, bullet points and bolding or italicizing where appropriate. Bullet points and callouts are great at visually grabbing attention on longer pieces. Breaking the long paragraphs into bullet points or checklists into well-organized, readable chunks keeps the reader engaged. Bullet points are concise and easy to read so even if patients skim the letter the bullet point section pulls out the most important information. Making simple formatting changes makes all the difference in how the copy is received. It alleviates the reader’s eyes and keeps them engaged.

Get Engaging Copy with BlueWing

While attention spans have decreased, BlueWing has proven marketing strategies to keep patients engaged with your copy, long or short! We utilize our data and analyze our results to recommend the best copy approach for your practice. Let us help you write the perfect copy for postcards, self-mailers, letters, and more. Let’s get started!


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