Every excellent direct mail marketing campaign is based on three pillars: the right target audience, the right moment of delivery, and the right design. Today, we will talk about the last one. Effective direct mail design can make the target audience notice your products or services, visit your website, and more. It’s a tool that allows you to entice people into the necessary action and create a smooth customer journey. Also, great direct mail design is what usually makes potential customers keep the mail piece. Neuroscientists found that the human brain needs only 13 milliseconds to process images perceived by the eye. A human hand needs a little bit more to toss something in the garbage. Therefore, all design elements you use must be carefully selected and immediately hit the target. Since Inkit has solid experience in direct mail design, we have formulated 15 design tips to assist you with your postcards, flyers, catalogs, or any other type of direct mail in use.

15 Tips on Great Direct Mail Design. Use Them to Launch an Outstanding Mail Campaign

A sophisticated aesthetic taste isn’t enough to create direct mail design that brings maximum response rate and conversion. Of course, it helps, but you also need to take into account a range of technical characteristics, design subtleties, and marketing factors. Only by combining them, you will launch an effective — and visually stunning — direct mail marketing campaign.

Direct Mail Design Tip #1. Define the Main Goal

Before you start picking colors, fonts, and content, you need to understand the purpose of your direct mail marketing. Some mail pieces focus on encouraging people to visit your website, whereas others nudge them into writing an email. For example, you may want to print in bold your phone number, email, or website address. Define the most desirable way of conversion depending on the characteristics of your target audience and your business needs. This will help you formulate a convincing call-to-action and choose other graphic design elements.

Direct Mail Design Tip #2. Analyze Existing Direct Mail Pieces

There is nothing wrong with learning from other businesses with effective direct mail campaigns in place. This gives you a bird’s-eye view on the general market situation and popular marketing approaches. Find 3-5 direct mail pieces of your main competitors and try to reason their design solutions. Spend more time analyzing their call-to-action, white space use, background, and other crucial details. These findings will be very useful to create your own effective direct mail design.

Direct Mail Design Tip #3. Pick the Right Direct Mail Format

Although direct mail design is usually associated with postcards and flyers, there are dozens of direct mail design options. Predictably, every type is used for specific purposes and differs in a marketing budget and response rates. For example, recipients are almost 3 times more likely to keep a catalog than other mail pieces. At the same time, catalogs and dimensional direct mail are usually the most pricey mail types. Therefore, before planning any design elements, you first have to pick the direct mail format.

Direct Mail Design Tip #4. Personalize Direct Mail Design

According to recent statistics, 41% of US buyers stopped using the services of a company because they weren’t satisfied with its personalization practices. To offer a more personalized marketing approach for your customers, you can customize every mail piece. Thanks to variable data printing technology offered by Inkit, this won’t require any additional investment or extra effort. Just integrate Inkit with a CRM and use the data from your customer base to add names, surnames, or other appropriate details. The recipients will feel that the content is tailored to their needs and appreciate such care.

Direct Mail Design Tip #5. Remember About Standards

In case you decide to use one of the USPS mailing programs, you will need to meet their strict standards. This service imposes limitations on dimensions, weight, design elements, and batch size. Any deviation may result in increased delivery cost or even force you to completely change a great direct mail design. There are two solutions to this problem. You should either carefully adapt your mail piece to the USPS mail campaign standards or use a third-party provider. Choose a company offering unlimited batch size and flexible pricing to have more freedom in direct mail design.

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Direct Mail Design Tip #6. Use the Available Space Effectively

Effective direct mail design conveys the main marketing message while staying concise and simple. Don’t overload your postcards or flyers with unnecessary text or too bright complex images. Leave some white space to make your potential customers focus on the most important design elements. Make sure to include your logo, offer, contact information, and social media references.

Direct Mail Design Tip #7. Don’t Use Too Much Information

Unless you design a catalog, your mail pieces don’t have to provide detailed information about your services. Use minimum text on postcards and focus on the most critical details when you design flyers. QR codes are one of the best design tips if you want to tell about your products or services without words. Moreover, they help to connect a direct mail campaign with digital marketing and promote your social media profiles.

Direct Mail Design Tip #8. Use Customizable Templates

There are numerous online tools that provide the functionality for creating direct mail design on your own. It’s an optimum option for those who can’t afford a graphic designer or prefer full control over direct mail design. In particular, Inkit supports a convenient custom postcard builder in which you can create unique designs with highly customizable settings. Such templates were developed by professional designers who already took into account all effective direct mail design demands. Moreover, you will significantly speed up the direct mail design process without wasting time on finding a graphic designer.

Direct Mail Design Tip #9. Remember About Paper and Other Technical Characteristics

If you print on low-quality paper, your great direct mail design will look cheap and repel potential customers. Be ready to invest in decent paper and ink that are durable and withstand mailing wear and tear. Note that scuffs and smudges also make the mail pieces look weary. Therefore, it’s better to use the design tips that help to conceal or prevent postcard damage. For example, there is a special UV coating for additional protection. Check out this article about other ways to avoid postcard damage.

Direct Mail Design Tip #10. Take Care of Fonts and Text Readability

Any text you include in direct mail design should be easy to read and clear. Hence, don’t overlap inscriptions with images and avoid using too unusual fonts. Designers recommend serif-type fonts such as Garamond or Times New Roman as an optimum option. Little serifs facilitate reading since the eye can follow a straight line they form. Also, don’t use more than 2 types of fonts on one mail piece.

Direct Mail Design Tip #11. Pay Attention to Colors

Signature colors increase brand recognition by up to 80%. The psychological impact of color is widely used in marketing to provoke specific emotions and build a brand image. A direct mail campaign isn’t an exception. The right color combination contributes to great direct mail design. Make sure to spend more time researching what colors are the most suitable to promote your products or services. For example, 42% of people state that blue is their favorite color and associate it with trust and reliability. Interestingly, it’s the most popular choice for company logos, especially in the medical field.

Direct Mail Design Tip #12. Test and Experiment with Direct Mail Design

Testing may be very helpful if you cannot choose the most effective direct mail design. It also helps to estimate mail marketing ROI and calculate your expenses more accurately. Since you cannot be 100% sure which call-to-action and content will make your potential customers convert, it’s better to design several similar mail pieces. It will be much easier to test all of them if you use a direct mail automation service with a built-in design tool and no limitations on the mailing volume, like Inkit. This will allow conducting A/B testing on a small target audience.

Direct Mail Design Tip #13. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Advice

When it comes to your own ideas, it may be hard to stay objective. Show the final direct mail draft to your colleagues, friends, or any third-party and ask their honest opinion. This will help you to understand how the future recipients might react to your direct mail design, which elements attract their attention, and what could make them discard your offer.

Direct Mail Design Tip #14. Link to Your Social Media

Despite being an offline marketing channel, great direct mail can boost your online presence and digital marketing efforts. Inform the recipients that your company has profiles in social media where they can look for more detailed information. There are several common ways to do this. You can either include small icons of the corresponding social media or add a QR code linking to the official web resource. Some companies also print the URL of their website, but this option is less preferable. Most users won’t exert themselves to type a long URL manually.

Direct Mail Design Tip #15. Stick to Your Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines define the main branding elements of a company, including logo, colors, fonts, style, message, and other relevant details. In other words, these are the markers that distinguish your brand from competitors and make it memorable. Keep them in mind while creating your direct mail design. Don’t forget to include your logo, use brand colors or standard typefaces on the mail piece. Ideally, all your marketing materials must be united with the same style.

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