Choosing the Right Direct Mail Format for Your Campaign

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Choosing the Right Direct Mail Format for Your Campaign

Now that you’ve made the choice to connect with your audience and boost your marketing ROI with a direct mail campaign, it’s time to start making decisions about your campaign’s design. One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is what format you want to use for your direct mail campaign. There are many options available, each with its own advantages and drawbacks, so one direct mail format may work great for one business but not so much for another. In this post, we’ll discuss the different formats of direct mail campaigns that are available and some best uses for each format.

Direct Mail Format Options

There are quite a few direct mail format options on the market, from simple postcards to complex dimensional mailers, and everything in between. Let’s take a look at what’s out there:


Postcards are the most common format used in direct mail, with their simplicity and in-your-face design making them attractive for marketers. The fact that postcards are so light and inexpensive to mail doesn’t hurt their popularity either. For campaigns that want to catch the recipient’s eye without them having to take any action to open or interact, postcards are a great choice. Use bold colors, consistent branding, and minimal text to really make your postcard direct mail campaign pop. Don’t forget to include a QR code or personalized URL (PURL) to the postcard to increase engagement and allow more accurate campaign tracking.


If you like the simple style of the postcard but need just a bit more room for content, brochures or flyers are great options. These direct mail formats give you the benefit of direct exposure without requiring any opening effort while also allowing you to expand your message or include additional imagery.


Catalogs are another popular direct mail format choice, as they allow businesses to get all their products, services, and offerings right into the hands of potential customers. Catalogs are especially popular with older populations, as they tend to favor more traditional shopping methods over digital ones, but catalogs are a great tool for potential business customers as well. Catalogs should be easy to identify by brand, bright and colorful, and contain all the information the customer needs to find out more and order products or services.


If your message just won’t fit on a postcard, using a letter format for your direct mail campaign might be a good choice. Letters are the OGs of direct mail campaigns, with some letter-based campaigns generating billions of dollars in revenues. Letters allow more content and text than postcards, offer privacy for sensitive information, and give recipients that feeling of anticipation we all get when opening a piece of physical mail. Letters are often the preferred format choice for account statements, private invitations, donation requests, and corporate HR mailings. Play around with different paper types to give your letter campaign even more pizzazz.

Dimensional Mailers

Dimensional mailers are used less often than the other direct mail formats, but when they are employed, the results are undeniable. Dimensional mailers add a third dimension to the mail piece, making it stand out from the crowd of letters and postcards. Dimensional mailers catch people’s attention, entice more engagement, and ultimately, convert more sales. They are most expensive to mail due to their larger volume, so we recommend saving dimensional mailer campaigns for your best customers or high-end prospects to get the most bang for your buck.

Testing Different Direct Mail Formats

The best thing about direct mail formats is that you don’t have to choose just one…you can try them all! Test different formats by segmenting your campaign audience and staggering out the mailings. This will allow you to see which formats generate the best response and ROI for your business and help you develop a truly personalized direct mail strategy that utilizes multiple channels for maximum success.

Direct Mail Formats – Making the Choice

From postcards to catalogs to letters and more, which direct mail format you choose is a crucial decision in your overall marketing strategy. Test out various formats and hone in on the one that is best for your business, products, and services. Once you find the format(s) that really speak to your desired audience, double down to get your brand or story out to as many interested people as possible, in a format that they enjoy.

Action Mail is your one-stop shop in San Diego County for high-quality printing services, direct mail services, list purchases, data processing, and more.

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