Direct mail marketing remains one of the most popular promotional strategies despite being an offline channel. Today we will talk about an inherent direct mailing campaign element – self-mailers. Learn more about their types, why and who uses them, and why you should do that too.

What Is a Self-Mailer

In short, a self-mailer is a piece of direct mail that mail services send without an envelope. It is designed to print address information directly on your self-mailer. The self-mailer can be of any direct mail type, from a political advertising postcard to a toothbrush marketing brochure. Its main characteristic is simplicity. 

Self-mailers usually look like a single piece of paper that contains the necessary information and images on both sides. Depending on the self-mailer type, it can include multiple pages as well.

What Are the Types of Self-Mailers

Self-mailers differ in shape and physical characteristics. Hence, US post offices share different printing and delivery recommendations depending on the form, weight, height, and scale of folding criteria. They also have numerous uses that vary based on what you want to achieve with your marketing strategy.

By Form

Depending on the form, the USPS differentiates the following self-mailers:

  • Letter-sized folded
  • Bi-fold
  • Basic
  • Using a Quarter Fold
  • Folded with Attachments and Loose Enclosures
  • With Opening Devices
  • With Die-Cut Elements
  • With Perforations

You can check how they look in this guide to decide what format is the most appropriate for your marketing goals.

By Usage Scenario

Here are the types of self-mailer pieces by use case:

A Postcard

A postcard is always a self-mailer. Postcards usually focus on a single product in a single piece. They can be of different sizes and content. Postcards are universal for any promotion, and their size makes them easy to produce in bulk. That's why postcards remain the most used self-mailer type for B2B and B2C businesses. Learn how to run successful postcard marketing in one of our previous blog posts.

A Booklet

USPS differentiates regular self-mailers and booklets despite them having very similar characteristics. Still, the booklet is a book of a minimal size that opens on three sides before sealing. What's good about booklets is that they contain more information than regular postcards due to a higher number of pages. Booklets are more engaging to read but are less appealing than postcards because of their size. We recommend using them for an audience already interested in your product.

A Сatalog

A self-mailer catalog is similar to a brochure. Its main difference is the focus on one product per page instead of featuring multiple services. It looks like a small book with promotional content but has the largest volume of all direct mail types. Catalogs usually contain product lists and try to tell as much as possible on a single page about them.

What Are the Benefits of Self-Mailers

Self-mailers are frequently used in direct mail campaigns as they have significant benefits compared to other methods such as email marketing or digital ads.

High response rate

If you read our blog for the first time, you may be surprised to learn that offline postcard mailing remains a highly relevant marketing strategy. According to USPS research, 86% of respondents check their mail to discover its contents. People like the tactile experience of receiving physical mail. In the age of digital marketing that knocks on the door as soon as we unlock our home screen, self-mailers feel fresh and more engaging.


USPS supports different self-mailer designs and printing options. You have a piece of paper and are free to do whatever you want with it. We will give some design advice a bit later, but for now, note that the creativity of text and imagery will make your self-mailers stand out.


Instead of a random email address, you reach a physical property with a mailbox that is easier to address directly. Knowing the residents of a marketed area, their age, and preferences allow you to target your campaign more accurately. The information received will also let you measure the responsiveness rates. Try attaching a QR code or other interactive elements to the letter to hook the reader even more.


When sending a postcard mailer, you can add a coupon for customers to activate in the store. A CTA that requires actions feels much more rewarding than a nice slogan. So be sure to keep your ads interactive. Besides, the ability to measure the responsiveness of your audience comes from the interactivity of self-mailers. When someone interacts with the mail piece, you can track it and use the findings for analytics.


Self-mailers don't require that much finance and complex logistics. Decent copywriting, a nice design, and an engaging CTA will reach the audience. Such simplicity helps to run mail marketing campaigns even if you don't have experience.


Cost-effectiveness is why successful businesses of any scale choose to use self-mailing in the first place. The absence of an envelope and a small number of pages won't influence the price of a single delivery. But taking a deeper look, you may see how much cheaper self-mailers are than their "enveloped" counterparts.

Combining all these benefits makes self-mailers an affordable, highly customizable, and easy-to-handle way of direct mail advertising.

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5 Tips to Make Your Mailpiece Design Stand Out

The profit may disappoint you if you don't create a memorable design for self-mailers. Your mail will get lost and end up in the garbage sooner than someone reads it.

Here are some quick tips to make your mailpiece look appealing:

  1. Choose high-quality paper

The material of your self-mailer has to be durable and pleasant to touch at the same time. This marketing piece will probably travel to its recipient for several business days. It has to look good when it reaches its destination. Hence, we recommend choosing thick paper or cardstock that is easy to fold.

  1. Make sure the colors are eye-catching

Don't forget to use color psychology in the design of your self-mailers to be ahead of the competitors. There are many color hacks that you can try to grasp the attention of your audience. Did you know that blue is the most beloved color in marketing materials among men and women of any age?

  1. Don't use too much text

It may be evident for anyone who has made a PowerPoint presentation once in their lifetime, but still worth mentioning. If you are unfamiliar with basic design principles, we recommend using the rule of 1-6-6. It means that you include no more than six bullet points per page and six words per line of text. This rule is best applied when working with headings and content outlines. This way, you keep your audience's attention without overloading them with unnecessary text.

  1. Add some pictures

It is better to buy stock pictures with happy folks using something that looks like your product or take some photos yourself. Ensure that the images match the content of the main offer and don't distract readers from the text.

  1. Add catchy text

Don't forget that a good headline and a call to action are half the success of a mailing campaign. An engaging and original text will make your design stand out from other brands. Make it short, think about what will make readers notice you, or hire a professional copywriter.

How Inkit Send Сan Help You With Direct Mail Campaigns

The only disadvantage of a self-mailer is the complexity of the delivery process. What do we mean? Direct mail campaigns are the most effective when they are long-term as the typography is cheaper in bulk. Thus, optimizing your self-mailers is a complex task that requires a qualified team of employees or advanced software.

Inkit Send mail automation API is a great way to optimize your direct mail campaigns. You won't need to hire direct mail experts to arrange and manage mailings. Integrate Inkit with your currently used CRM and marketing software to automatically print and deliver personalized mail based on user activity. When a specific person does anything online, they will receive a self-mailer relevant to their previous interactions.

Get Inkit Send for free to test how it works now and automate your self-mailing campaign.

Final Thoughts

Self-mailing is an effective and simple strategy you can implement as a direct mail campaign. We encourage you to use the tips from our guide to make your mail pieces cost-effective and enhance customer engagement. If you want trigger-based automated mail, we recommend Inkit Send. This tool manages all mail fulfillment tasks independently.

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