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How to Choose the Right Direct Mail Format for Your Campaign

How to choose the right direct mail format for your campaign

The right direct mail format is the mailer that best delivers your message to your audience. It can be as simple as a postcard or as extensive as a full catalogue. Although every direct mail format has its advantages, not every format works for every campaign.

With that in mind, how do you choose the right direct mail format for your campaign?

The Types of Direct Mail Format

Before choosing the best direct mail format for your campaign, you should familiarize yourself with the different kinds of direct mail available today. That way, you can pick the format that is most suited to your needs.

Self Mailers

Self-mailers are any kind of direct format mail sent without an envelope or enclosure. They are one of the most popular promotional materials businesses use because of their relatively low production costs. Since they are printed and mailed as one piece, printing and mail inserting costs are lower than other direct mail packages.

Many businesses use self-mailers to promote products and services to their target audience. You can also include additional details about your company.

A key advantage of self-mailers is that they offer extensive creative opportunities. You can entice your audience with visual elements such as high-quality graphics, images, and photographs. These will help your mailer stand out from the competition.


Postcards are a most common form of direct mail. With only two sides, they present content concisely and clearly. Because of the limited space, it’s crucial to craft your message carefully to be as effective as possible.

Additionally, choose a design that grabs the reader’s attention without taking away from the messaging. Recipients should be able to glance at your postcards quickly and get all the necessary information.

Since postcards tend to be smaller and do not require an envelope, they’re an incredibly cost-effective form of direct mail. When you opt for standard dimensions, you benefit from lower printing, paper, and transportation costs.

However, postcards can be printed in various sizes if you want your campaign to stand out in the mail.

Postcards are primarily used to boost brand awareness with your target audience. They can also promote special offers, introduce new products, and remind existing customers of your brand.

Letter Mailers

Letter mailers are distributed in sealed envelopes, making them ideal for delivering sensitive information to customers. Forms are a classic example of letter mailers that require sealed envelopes.

However, letters can also be included in a broader direct mail campaign. For example, the letter mailer format can be used to follow up on other direct mail pieces like brochures or catalogues.

Letter or envelope mailers can include several components. The most common is an outer envelope and the letter itself. They can also include a brochure, lift note, inserts, order form, price list, and a reply device/envelope, depending on your objectives. If you want readers to reply and provide additional information, you should include the necessary forms and a reply envelope.


Catalogues are a classic direct mail format that has been used successfully for decades. They are a favourite amongst companies that need to advertise a vast assortment of products. You can use catalogues, magazines, newsletters, and other booklets to effectively introduce new products to your existing customers or introduce your brand to new customers.

Furthermore, catalogues have a high engagement rate, making them an excellent way to increase brand awareness and boost sales. However, your catalogue needs to catch the initial interest of the reader or else they won’t take a look inside.

Consequently, it’s essential to design your flyer to be engaging and intriguing for readers. A professional design goes a long way in accomplishing this goal.

Dimensional Mailers

Dimensional mailers are a form of direct mail that is three-dimensional. Therefore, they stand out from traditional direct mail formats that lie flat. Dimensional mailers can come in boxes, cylinders, tubes, sample sachets, or other unique shapes.

The main advantage of a dimensional mailer is that it is unconventional. Recipients are more likely to be intrigued by a dimensional mailer because they rarely (if ever) see them. This makes it easier to get your message across. As a result, dimensional mailers have some of the highest response rates compared to other direct mail formats.

Additionally, dimensional mailers are entirely customizable. You can make it uniquely yours, right down to the size, colour, and texture.

Tips for Choosing the Right Direct Mail Format

Define Your Objectives and Target Audience

If you lack a clear understanding of your objectives and target demographic, it will be much harder to design a successful direct mail campaign. You should choose a direct mail format that brings you closer to your goals and speaks to your audience.

Additionally, knowing your objective can help you spend your budget more effectively. There’s no need to spend big on a full catalogue when a postcard or self-mailer would do.

Pick the Right Format for Your Budget

With so many forms of direct mail available, there is one that suits your budget perfectly. Examine your options carefully, assessing the associated costs for design, printing, processing, and postage. Keep in mind that postcards are the most cost-effective format, whereas catalogues are on the higher end.

Determine Your Timeline

Direct mail campaigns can be complex, with many moving parts. Printing and fulfillment times will also vary depending on the direct mail format, which can significantly affect your campaign’s timeline.

It’s important to consider all factors that could result in delays. This will help you create a realistic timeline and choose an achievable send-out date.

Examine Your Broader Marketing Plan

Specifically, how does direct mail fit into your broader marketing program? Are you only planning on sending a single mailer, or is it one part of a greater campaign? If you’re going to be using mailers frequently, it may be worth your while to develop a template. This will expedite the design process, which is useful in a larger campaign.

Mail Advertising With Troi Mailing Services

Ultimately, your campaign’s message and intention determine which direct mail format is best for your company. However, you should also consider the desires of your target audience and your budget.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the various direct mail formats listed in this article, Troi Mailing Services can help. We can recommend the best format that meets the needs of your campaign.

To learn more about mail advertising, call Troi Mailing Services at 1-866-486-9350 or contact us here.

About: Seamus Barton
Seamus Barton - Author
Seamus Barton joined Troi Mailing Services in 2014 after graduating from York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Writing. As a manager of print and direct mail solutions, he sees how words play an important role in personalizing any experience. Seamus’ passion for writing motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that supports each Client’s individual needs. Please chat with Seamus about commercial printing and direct mailing campaigns, or about how to marry digital and physical strategies for optimal Smartmail Marketing success.

You can connect with Seamus on LinkedIn or by calling Troi Mailing Services at 1-866-486-0423 or via email at Read his latest article featured in Direct Marketing Magazine on “Dimensional Mail: Marketing’s Buffet Lobster

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