With Letters, Pay Close Attention to Paragraph Depth

Share this content:
I think both George Le Pera ("An Appeal for Meatier DM," April 25) and Bob McCarthy ("Many Times a Short Letter Will Do Just Fine," May 16) make good points on the length of direct mail letters. McCarthy's observation regarding lead generation versus mail order gets at the heart of the matter: Rarely does a lead generation effort need more than one or two pages.

My two cents is to also pay particular attention to paragraph depth and let that guide you on how long the letter should be, especially with prospecting. Remember that readers "scan" letters, they don't start at the salutation and continue through to the postscript. If your letter is filled with dense paragraphs, your readers will have difficulty scanning and picking up the benefits and kernels of information that will interest them, keep them involved with the package and then hopefully see the desired action taken.

It's better to have a multi-page letter where most of the paragraphs are one, two and three lines deep than a one-page letter where they are five, six and seven lines deep. Yes, the old rule that "no paragraph should be more than seven lines deep" is true. But I'd add that one that deep should be found in letters very occasionally.

John Bethel, Copywriter, Richmond, VA



Next Article in Marketing Strategy

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above