Use Great Design to Harness the Power of Business Direct Mail

Do more with direct mail.

Direct mail is experiencing a huge renaissance. The reason: It works! In the last five years, customer response rates to direct mail have increased by 80%. Prospects are even more receptive, with a response rate that has grown by more than 100% over that time.


A good mailing list and a compelling offer are essential to create successful postcards and other mailers. But it’s also vital to make sure a piece is well designed. Choices about size, layout, color and font help ensure your piece gets attention and communicates your message clearly.


Use these tips to design a direct mail piece that works for your business.


Choose the right format

Postcards come in a range of sizes and price points. Larger formats like 5.5” x 8.5” will stand out in a stack of mail and offer more space for your message. Bigger cards typically cost more than standard 4” x 6” mailers, but the extra cost will be worth it if it translates into better response rates.


To keep costs down and easily create a professional mailer yourself, start with a design template. Choose one for a specific industry like health care or real estate, or look for a particular design style, such as modern or vintage. Make sure your template includes sufficient space for the recipient address and easy-to-read contact information for your business.


Use images

Choose the right photo or graphic for your mailer to grab attention and increase the chances that people will read it. Rather than just showing a picture of your product, try to find an image of someone using and benefiting from what you sell. This will convey not only what you offer, but also how it can make the recipient’s life better. Make sure your image files are high-resolution to ensure they reproduce well in print. 


Include important components

While you need to keep the content of your mailer concise and your design uncluttered, you also need to include certain details to excite readers and compel them to act. Be sure to include:


  • A special offer: Give recipients a reason to connect with you through a coupon code, discount, buy-one-get-one-free offer or other meaningful incentive. Be sure to include an expiration date to build urgency.
  • A call to action: Be direct about what you want recipients to do. For example, ask them to place an order, visit your website or set up an appointment.
  • Tracking information: Include a unique URL, phone number or offer code in your layout to help you measure the mailer’s response rate.
  • U.S. Postal Service requirements: Make sure your final layout meets Postal Service specifications for the placement of mailing addresses, barcodes and other marks.

Add color

Apply color strategically to your designs to help readers scan and understand your message quickly. Direct attention to your special offer and call to action by putting them in a bright shade. Use a different, more-neutral color for secondary details. Stick with a palette of two to three colors to maintain a clutter-free feel.


Get affordable, creative help with building, printing and sending a winning postcard or direct mailer from the print and marketing partners at Staples.