Popular Direct Mail Formats and How to Use Them

Choosing the right direct mail format can be overwhelming, especially for companies and organizations using direct mail for the first time. Each format has its own pros and cons in terms of cost, features, response rate, size options, and other variables. Here is a very basic, nuts-and-bolts introduction to four popular direct mail formats, along with a list of ideas for how to use each one.

1) #10 Envelope

The #10 envelope is the standard business envelope. Considered the traditional direct mail package of envelope, letter, and insert(s), these mailers aren’t as visually dynamic as some formats, but they can be designed to appear either personal or professional. Letters can be used for everything from lead generation to fundraising, while inserts can be added to offer proof, reassurance, or detailed explanations to recipients.

#10 envelopes typically include inserts such as:

  • Reply cards
  • Order forms
  • Brochures
  • Gift cards/certificates
  • Sell sheets
  • Price lists
  • Testimonials

2) Snap Pack

A direct mail snap pack is a mailer constructed from a single piece of paper, folded and sealed with glue, perforated on three sides, and mailed without an envelope. This format creates the appearance of an official document and conveys urgency and importance, which is why snap packs have such high open rates.

Common use cases include the distribution of:

  • Medical bills and other invoices
  • Rebate or refund checks
  • PIN numbers and other private data from financial institutions
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Insurance documents
  • Official notices
  • Member information from trade associations

3) Postcard

Direct mail postcards are the smallest, simplest self-mailers. Because postcards are comprised of one piece and require no envelope, they’re typically less expensive than other direct mail formats, allowing you to invest more in design. The format is simple and easy to view without opening an envelope or unfolding paper. Also, people feel comfortable looking at and passing around a postcard, which is something they usually won’t do with a personal letter.

Use cases for direct mail postcards include:

  • Retail promotions, sales, and special offers
  • Special events (grand openings, conferences, fundraisers, open houses, etc.)
  • Coupons/QR codes
  • Product launches
  • Invitations
  • Reminders from doctors, schools, accountants, banks, auto mechanics, etc.

4) Catalogs and Magazines

There’s a reason why even Amazon sends catalogs to customers. People enjoy the tactile experience of flipping through a well-designed catalog or magazine with high-quality photos and compelling stories. Catalogs and magazines in a variety of sizes give you plenty of space to provide extensive information and imagery to showcase products, services, and testimonials. Also, recipients often hold onto catalogs and magazines longer than other mail.

Direct mail catalogs and magazines can be used to highlight:

  • Retail products in virtually any category
  • Case studies
  • Customer profiles
  • News from corporations, hospitals, universities, nonprofits, etc.
  • Thought leadership
  • Inserts, which can include order forms, subscription forms, coupons, donation requests, etc.

Even more important than choosing the right direct mail format is choosing the right direct mail partner. Let us help you develop a direct mail strategy based on your goals, your audience, and your budget. Contact us to unleash the power of Digital Dog Direct.