Direct Mail Informed Delivery Enhances Your Campaigns

Are you ready to get more out of your direct mail campaigns? Direct mail is a very powerful marketing channel that can be enhanced by adding Informed Delivery.

Are you ready to get more out of your direct mail campaigns? Direct mail is a very powerful marketing channel that can be enhanced by adding Informed Delivery.

What is Informed Delivery? Basically, you provide to your customers and prospects with more touchpoints, more impressions and, therefore, create more impact. The USPS offers a free service to subscribers, which sends an email to them with an image of that day’s mail.

The default images are not in color, because they are scanned on postal equipment. When you participate in an Informed Delivery campaign, you can replace that image with a color image and even add a web link for quick purchasing or information about your product or service.

How Does Informed Delivery Enhance Your Mailing Results?

  • The USPS has a 72.5% email open rate. People will see your ad.
  • It has a 4.92% clickthrough rate on ads. People do click on the ads.
  • It encourages faster response rates, with the easy link.
  • It provides an easy way to have multiple touchpoints with clients and prospects.

Is It Complicated?

No, and that is the best part. Once you design your mail piece, you should design an image for Informed Delivery and also create a ride along ad. Both will then be sent with the landing page information to the post office, along with a mail.dat file so the post office knows who gets the mail and the ads. When the post office scans the mail piece for delivery, it will send the email to your customer or prospect with that day’s mail. Your color image with the ad and web page will be in that email.

How Can You Measure Results?

You will use your normal measuring tools for your direct mail results, plus the added Informed Delivery results. The best way to do this is to create a special landing page for your Informed Delivery ad and coupon code recipients enter at purchase. This will allow you to track how many hits come to the page, as well as how many purchases are made from the Informed Delivery portion. Your responses from the mail piece will go to a different landing page; they can also come in based on other response mechanisms, like phone or email, depending on what you provide.

Why Use Informed Delivery?

In 2019, there is a very good reason to try it out. Why? Because the post office is having a promotion for Informed Delivery. You can save 2% on your postage just for trying it out. The promotion period is Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Over 14 million people have registered to receive these emails from the post office and that continues to grow daily. Many marketers are looking at new ways to use direct mail and Informed Delivery can help you grow your ROI. Are you ready to get started?

10 Fun Direct Mail Pieces for When Your Mail’s Gone Stale

Over time, mail pieces can become boring and less effective, because we end up using the same formats over and over again. Have you considered spicing up your next mailer?

Over time, mail pieces can become boring and less effective, because we end up using the same formats over and over again. Have you considered spicing up your next mailer?

There are a lot of different things you can do. Some are more expensive than others. One way to change up your mailer without a ton of additional cost it to change the way you fold it. There are many fun folds you can try as self-mailers or in envelopes.

5 Fun Types of Folds as Self-Mailers

  1. Coupon Mailer If you plan on including coupons with your mailer, check this one out.
  2. 6 Panel Mega If you need a lot of space, this is a great fold. It will qualify as a flat though, so the postage will be more than a smaller size.
  3. Pocket Mailer If you would like a pocket in a letter size mailer, check this one out.
  4. Rectangle Snake This is super fun fold for a self-mailer. Check it out.
  5. Star Iron Cross This is unique and can hold inserts. Check it out.

5 Fun Types of Folds in Envelopes

  1. Twist This is a super fun fold with a real cool factor! Check it out.
  2. Stepped Accordion This would work well if you have a bunch of headings in your copy or some other type of segmentation. Check it out.
  3. Double Swinger This has a professional feel to it and is not boring.
  4. Stacked Tulip This is very creative and unique. Check it out.
  5. Broadside Reveal This will allow you to have a peek-a-boo like window. Check it out.

Which ones are you interested in? There are so many more fun folds to try. Your creative design can really make these folds pop. Give your prospects and customers a fun experience with your next direct mail piece. There is one more fold I want to highlight, that is the endless fold. These are super fun and your prospects and customers will flip through them more than once. Check out an example.

You will need to put this in an envelope to mail, but imagine their surprise as they keep flipping folds. The longer they spend flipping through your mail piece, the more your message sinks in.

Are your creative juices flowing now? There is one final thing to keep in mind as you design for new folds; Have your mail service provider check your concept against postal regulations to make sure you are complaint. Otherwise you will have to pay extra fees.

Are you ready to get started?

How to Perform Generational Targeting in Direct Mail Marketing

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational targeting in direct mail
Credit: Getty Images by Jasper Cole

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational Targeting in Direct Mail

Boomers — As we age, it becomes hard to filter out distractions. This means that your direct mail should have a clear message in a big font. Do not clutter the mail piece with tons of copy and a bunch of images. Include white space around your copy and images to allow time for absorption without distraction. Because older brains filter out negative messages, you should accentuate the positive benefits of your product or service. They have time and, therefore, value more information before making a decision — unlike Gen Xers and Millennials. Make sure to respect their intelligence and include details about your product or service that are relevant to them. The more they are exposed to a message, company and brand, the more it becomes true for them. So make sure that your messaging on your mail piece matches your message on other channels.

Gen X — The first thing we need to note about Gen Xers is that they are very busy people; you will need to grab their attention quickly. Coupons are a great way to reach Gen X. They love a good deal. They love companies that do “good for society.” So when they make a purchase, they can also help out others. They like loyalty programs that help keep them on track through busy weeks and months. Keep in mind that this generation loves direct mail. Of course you need to send them mail pieces that are relevant, but you should expect good response rates from them. Because lack of time is an issue, make sure that you go with less copy and get right to the point of how your product or service can help them.

Millennials — The most important thing to know about Millennials is that they value social issues over economics. So you need to make sure that your messaging taps into that need. Another factor is innovation. This generation is always looking for the next best thing. How can your product or service fix their problems in a new way? Millennials love reviews, so make sure you provide real testimonials from customers on your direct mail pieces. They, like Gen X, are big on loyalty programs; so make sure you have a robust program.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each generation is comprised of unique people; not everyone will respond the same way. Don’t replace your other demographic targeting and segmentation strategies. These notations should help you shape your direct mail concepts, but by no means should they become the “be-all, end-all” strategy. Are you ready to get started?

5 Key Direct Mail Design Strategies and Elements

After your list, your direct mail design strategy is critical. Your images, layout, fonts and colors all contribute to whether your mail piece will be read or thrown away. Obviously we want our mail pieces read and acted upon, so how do we best design our direct mail pieces to accomplish that?

After your list, your direct mail design strategy is critical. Your images, layout, fonts and colors all contribute to whether your mail piece will be read or thrown away. Obviously we want our mail pieces read and acted upon, so how do we best design our direct mail pieces to accomplish that?

5 Key Design Elements

  1. Images — These are extremely important. Images that are emotionally compelling work really well. Facial images stand out and our eyes are naturally drawn to them, so use faces if possible. You can also use images that are iconic and easily recognizable; our eyes and attentions are drawn to familiar images. You need to make sure that you are using images that are consistent with your brand and your message.
  2. Fonts — These are commonly overlooked in direct mail marketing. Not all fonts are the same. When you use interesting or unique fonts, you draw people in. Be careful about using too many different fonts. Your mail piece can look cluttered with too many fonts. The same goes for font sizes, try not to use more than three sizes throughout your mail piece.
  3. Layout — The layout of your mail piece is crucial to response rates. You need to make sure you include white space so that the layout is not cluttered and overwhelming. Images and concise copy need to flow together in sync with each other. Depending on the type of mail piece you may need more than one image, so make sure they work together and do not clash. Do not place wording over the top of images, it will be ignored.
  4. Copy — Keep in mind that people find it easier to read copy that starts on the outer left edge and reads into the center. They pay less attention to copy that starts in the center and reads to the right edge. Make sure you are concise and use common language without acronyms. You want to make it easy to understand quickly.
  5. Color — Colors evoke emotional responses on a subconscious level. Choosing the right colors on your mail piece can make a difference. If you are not sure what colors are right for you, there are many color guides online you can check out.

All five of these elements must work together to create an irresistible mail piece. Your message and call to action are also important so make sure you plan those out thoroughly, too. Your design is there to stand out in the mail box and compel your prospects and customers to read your message and respond. Once you have a design in place, it is a good idea to show it to a few customers to get feedback before your roll it out. You want to make sure that it is compelling to them. If not, you will need to fix areas that they identify as issues.

Direct mail design can seem daunting, but if you take it a step at a time, you will have a well-designed piece before you know it. Keep in mind when you are choosing your mail piece format that you need to allow enough room for your images and messaging. This may mean that a small postcard is not going to work. The last thing to remember before you print is to make sure you are meeting postal requirements. You do not want to have to pay extra postage because your design did not meet regulations. If you are not sure, send a PDF file to your mail service provider to review. They can let you know of any issues before you print. Are you ready to get started?

In Direct Mail, More Is Less: How Oversaturation Kills ROI

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

With two, they can make a comparison. Once you move past two, you get confusion. Confused people do not buy. Your ROI will reflect your “too many choices” with poor results. Not sure if I am right? Let’s look at some key ways people process your mail pieces.

  • Decision Processing — Good decisions are processed in three steps, on avaerage. The steps are: know the importance of your goals, consider your options to meet them and pick the winning option. Knowing this, you can help them make decisions faster by providing them with the benefits of your product or service to them in your copy. The more options you offer, the harder it is for people to make decisions. When decision-making is hard, people tend to just not do it. Your mail pieces should make it easy for them to decide to buy from you.
  • Intake — As people are looking over your copy, they skim as they read. Many tests have shown that what resonates with them is the last item read; make sure your strongest copy is last, in order to convince them that it is in their best interest to buy from you. The more positive spin you put on the benefits, the better people feel about your product or service and the more eager they are to buy.
  • Past Experience — All decisions we make are based on past experiences, but your prospects and customers can be influenced by other people’s experiences, too. That is why testimonials about your product or service are very important. Your customers and prospects can relate to others’ experiences and want to get that experience for themselves.
  • Familiar — People buy from companies that they are familiar with, so your company branding is important and must be carried through all your marketing channels. They need to be able to recognize you to help them decide to buy from you.

Take the confusion out of your direct mail pieces in order to increase your response rates. Your prospects and customers are inundated with marketing messages all day long in various forms. In order for your mail pieces to resonate, you need to grab attention with your design and then wow them with concise, easy-to-read copy. Focus on how great their life is going to be by using your product or service. Then make it a limited time offer so they respond quicker. Finally, make it easy for them to buy from you.

Stay away from multiple offers per mailer; target the right people with the right offer. You can still have multiple offers in your campaign; just send different offers to different people. When you are not sure what offer will work best, do an A/B test so half of the people get one offer and the other half get the other offer. You can then analyze your results to see which offer worked better. There are enough difficult choices in the world, make buying from you an easy choice and you will see your results increase. In your marketing, you cannot be everything to everyone. You need to be something to someone. Focus on the someones. Are you ready to get started?

5 Ways Direct Mail Can Give You a Marketing Advantage

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

  1. Pursue The first way to take full advantage of direct mail is to go after the right people. This will depend on what your offer is, as well as if you are going after prospects or customers. There is a difference in the way you target these two groups. Use your data to segment people into like categories. Sending to the right people makes all the difference and can save you money by not sending pieces to people who are not interested.
  2. Clarity — Next, you need to make sure that your messaging and offer are very clear. If not, you are going to miss out on the people who misunderstood what you were trying to say. Keep your wording simple and stay away from acronyms; in the texting age, your acronym could mean something very different.
  3. Succinct — Your copy needs to get right to the point. Make it easy and fast to read. You can use bullets, bolding and other text highlights to get your most important information to stand out. The less reading required, the more people will scan your piece.
  4. Interest — Does your mail piece generate interest? Your images and messaging need to call people to your piece to look closer at what you have to offer. The more interest people have in your mail piece, the more likely they are to buy.
  5. Cohesion — Do your marketing channels work together? Can customers and prospects flow easily from your direct mail piece to your website or other online platform? When they can, you will get better response rates.

When you have all five segments done correctly, you will see an increase in response. Don’t let your competitors win. Use direct mail to your advantage and get ahead of them. You will need to block out time to get your best mail pieces conceptualized and created. Do not rush the process, or you risk your results. As they say, Rome was not built in a day — and neither are your direct mail pieces.

One of the best features about direct mail is that it arrives in the mailbox and is a physical piece. No other marketing channel is physical in this way. In order to draw interest to your mail piece, you can add features to enhance the sensory experience for your customers and prospects. There are many features you can add, such as textures, foil, embossing, debossing, die cuts, special folds and more. Most of these features are not very expensive but can boost your direct mail advantage. You can also add scent for a multi-sensory experience. Get creative and allow your prospects and customers to have fun.

Boring direct mail will not get you the results you want. You need to find ways to enhance your mail pieces to increase prospect and customer engagement. The better you are able to do this using the five segments above, the bigger your direct mail advantage will be. Are you ready to get started?

5 Steps to Spark Great Direct Mail Ideas

If you are like many marketers, direct mail has been a part of your marketing strategy for a long time. This can lead to boring mail pieces with a declining response rate. So, how can you find new, great direct mail ideas to get your response rates back on track?

If you are like many marketers, direct mail has been a part of your marketing strategy for a long time. This can lead to boring mail pieces with a declining response rate. So, how can you find new, great direct mail ideas to get your response rates back on track?

5 Steps to Spark Direct Mail Ideas

  1. Doubt – You need to be able to start fresh. This means that everything you think you know about your mail pieces needs to go out the window. You need to be able to challenge every aspect of your mail pieces so that you and your team can build great new ideas from the ground up. This is where you need to be willing to take some risks and try out new ideas.
  2. Possible – Here you should identify the changes you and your team believe will be the best possible choices to improve your direct mail pieces. Here you will create a list of goals and objectives for your mail campaign. How can your direct mail be changed to meet your needs? What areas could stand some real improvement?
  3. Diverge – Here you will want to explore a lot of different ideas with an open mind. The best way to have a good idea is to have many to choose from. Write down every idea, even if you think it is a bad one or will never work. At this step you want to create as many ideas as you can think of. During this creative step you and your team will have fun with wild ideas. The longer you do it the more creative your ideas will get.
  4. Converge – Now it is time to really look at each of the ideas you have with a more analytical approach. Which ones will have problems? Once you find them, eliminate these ideas. Really question each one to find the best ideas to keep. You may end up with only one idea after this which you may be happy with. If not, go back to the diverge step and generate some more ideas.
  5. Reevaluate – This is the step once your mailing has been completed. Did your new mail piece meet your goals and objectives? If not, you need to go back to one of the other steps to make more changes. You may need to restart at Step 1, or if you got better results but feel like they fell somewhat short, perhaps starting at Step 2 or Step 3 is a better choice. Keep in mind that even if you got the best response rate ever with your new pieces, it will not last forever. You need to be vigilant in reevaluating what you are doing consistently after each mailing.

This five-step process can help you create great direct mail campaigns. You always need to keep in mind postal regulations so that you do not have to pay extra postage for a mail piece that does not meet the standards. This can be done during the “converge” step as you eliminate ideas that have problems. The best direct mail pieces are targeted to the right people with the right offer and grab attention. The way you go about getting attention has so many options. During Step 3, let your creativity flow and see all of the ideas you can create. Always remember to design and write with your customers and prospects in mind. Focusing on what they want will drive your response. Are you ready to get started?

How to Create Fabulous Direct Mail for Women

Does your direct mail resonate with women? Women are powerful in the marketplace. Targeting your direct mail for women correctly is the best way to increase your response rates.

Does your direct mail resonate with women? Women are powerful in the marketplace. Targeting your direct mail for women correctly is the best way to increase your response rates.

Women control more than 80% of all the discretionary income in the U.S. Are you successfully reaching them? The way men and women react to messaging is very different, so the same mail piece will not work well for both.

Luckily with variable data printing, you can target images and copy to each differently within the same mailing to better target the right message to the right person. So, how should you target women to generate the best response?

Top 13 things to consider when sending direct mail to women:

  1. Emotion Women process all incoming information with emotion. If your mail piece has no emotional component, it will be ignored. Facts and statistics are not remembered, emotion is. Take full advantage of this and make your messaging tap into emotion.
  2. Multitasking Women are multi-taskers; so while looking at your mail piece, they are also doing other things. Make sure that the images and messages you use celebrate her multi-tasking ability and how you can make her life easier.
  3. Big Picture  Target your direct mail marketing to the big picture. Women focus on the big picture more so than men. So provide the reasons why your product or service will make her life better and Earth or a charity. Something more to enhance the big picture.
  4. Whole Life Reach out to women in every aspect of life with your messaging. Approach how your product or service helps improve her whole life by giving her more time, better abilities or something along those lines.
  5. Planning Women love to plan. How does your product or service fit in her plan or make it easier? Perhaps provide a plan she can follow that helps her and includes your product or service.
  6. Deals Women really love deals. Make a quick decision easy by providing a really good deal. This does not require you to lower your cost, you can create a special package with a free gift or a “buy two, get one free” on things that are used frequently. The word “free” is a powerful driver of response.
  7. Price Women do not always purchase on price. If you can help her meet her requirements for either her or her family’s well-being, she is willing to pay more. You can do this by showing her how indispensable your product or service is to her or her family.
  8. Social Women are extremely social. Look for ways you can tap into that with social media groups and communities. Move them from the mail piece to online. This can help them become brand ambassadors for you.
  9. Negative experience Make sure you deliver on what you promise. Women have a large network of people who they discuss things with. So a negative experience can resonate and be passed along to her network. Don’t let this happen to you.
  10. Sex While sexual images and innuendo work well for men, women tend to ignore it. Instead, tap into the other options discussed here to create a message that resonates with her.
  11. Authenticity Women require authenticity. You must be honest and straightforward in all your marketing. She can detect an imposter right away. She will avoid your product or service and tell others to. Since direct mail is considered the most trustworthy form of marketing, you start off with good credit; however, you must craft your images and messaging to capitalize on it.
  12. Empathy Women have a large capacity for empathy. You can tap into that with well-told stories, images and authentic characters. Nonprofits do this really well. How can you craft a compelling story about your product or service that evokes empathy?
  13. Story Women appreciate stories. She wants to know how characters interact and are benefited by your product or service. When you are able to tell a good story with both your images and copy, you drive response.

There really is a big difference in the way mail pieces are perceived between men and women. Women prefer a more nuanced and storied approach, where men prefer direct-and-to-the-point messages. Keep in mind that women buy the majority of all products and services, so how are your direct mail messages currently reaching them? Harness the power of better targeting to women now to increase your response rates.

Are you using any of the 13 tips above? They can really help you to engage with women and persuade them to buy. Increase the power of your direct mail marketing by doing a better job at targeting women. Are you ready to get started?

Stand Out With Texture

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

Some fun coatings for you to consider:

  • MiraFoil: Create metallic effects in a precise fashion.
  • Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
  • Pearlescent: Gives an elegant shimmer look.
  • Sandpaper: Gives a rough sand paper like feel.
  • Soft touch: Creates a velvet texture for a nice soft feel.
  • Glitter: A large glitter flake that is available in a variety of colors.
  • Metal Flake: Fine metal flakes similar to car paint.
  • Thermochronic: Temperature activated, changes color when heated.
  • Photochromic: This coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
  • Glow in the dark: This is a high gloss coating that will glow in the dark.
  • Scratch off: Available in gold or silver provides a non-see thru coat

Now that you have selected your coating, imagine how creative you can get with your design. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books: You can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from. It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to really get a pop. Show your recipients how your product or service feels; grab that sensory emotion to increase response.

The standard coatings are:

  • Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink and can be applied in gloss, dull or satin forms as the piece is printed. This is not environmentally friendly.
  • Aqueous: A water based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
  • UV: This provides superior protection and comes in glossy or dull.
  • Laminates: This is best for protection from water as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces.

With any of the above coatings, it is a good idea to check with your mail service provider to make sure they can inkjet over the coating. You do have a couple of choices if the coating is not inkjet compatible. You can knockout the mail panel when coating to leave it unfinished for inkjet. Or you can use and envelope/poly bag as a cover. Just one more thing to consider is that a paper envelope can be inkjeted, but a poly bag will require labels. Make sure to consider all your options and costs before proceeding.

Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. The more interesting it is, the better response you are going to get. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient. If you want to add another layer of input, check out our blog post on adding scent to mailers. A good combination of texture and scent can knock your ROI out of the park!

Why Can’t I Mail It? – Self-Mailers

As you know from part one of “Why Can’t I Mail It?” with postcards, there are many times that a design element causes a mailing to go at a higher rate of postage. This can be frustrating as well as expensive. In order to help you stay away from potential issues, here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing a direct mail campaign. Now let’s look at Self-Mailers

As you know from part one of “Why Can’t I Mail It?” with postcards, there are many times that a design element causes a mailing to go at a higher rate of postage. This can be frustrating as well as expensive. In order to help you stay away from potential issues, here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing a direct mail campaign.

Now let’s look at Self-Mailers:

  1. Self-Mailer size is 3.5 x 5 to 6 x 10.5, anything larger is not mailable in this category. A self-mailer is a single or multiple unbound sheets of paper that are folded together and sealed to form a letter-size mail piece.
    The USPS created this category in Jan. 2013 to stop jamming and tearing of mail pieces. To us it has been a pain to redesign sizing and folding. Why not just slow the machine down a little? But, alas, that is not the case.
  2. Paper stock must be a minimum of 70lb, as long as the weight is under an ounce. If the weight goes over 1 ounce, the minimum is 80lb. Anything less will need to go in an envelope.
    Our main issue with this one is how the heck will the postal clerks know what kind of paper stock was used? Are they really going to measure them all? We get it that thin equals floppy and floppy equals bad for machines, but it could have been addressed with a thickness of 0.009 or something along the usual guidelines.
  3. Keep your aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5. In order to calculate the aspect ratio, you start by looking at the mail panel, then take the length of the self-mailer and divide it by the height.
    We are told that the reason for this rule is machine compatibility, when the mailer is short and long it does not run through the equipment correctly, causing jams and again torn mailers. We don’t want that!
  4. There are two options for addressing a self-mailer.
    • Barcode in the address block: A 4 x 2 clear area, no varnish, UV coating, text or images for the address block. The block needs to be a minimum 0.5 inches from the right edge and 0.625 inches from bottom edge. The block can be no higher from the bottom of the mailer than 3.5 inches. Lastly the address must remain at a minimum distance from graphics or text of 0.125 inches.
    • Barcode clear zone addressing: The barcode clear zone is the bottom 5/8 of the postcard and must be free of all color, text and images. Next the address block must be a minimum 0.5 inches from the right edge and minimum of 0.625 inches from bottom edge. The block can be no higher from the bottom of the mailer than 3.5 inches. Lastly the address must remain at a minimum distance from graphics or text of 0.125 inches.
      These requirements are meant to keep the address in the OCR (Optical Character Reader) read area of the postal equipment. Honestly, the current equipment has more read area than this, but getting the post office to change rules in our favor does not happen!
  5. There are two kinds of folds: horizontal and vertical:
    • Horizontal folds: The final fold is below the mail panel. This can be an 8.5 x 11 half folded, an 11 x 17 half folded and half folded again and so on. If you use the 11 x 17 keep in mind that the first half fold needs to be to the right of the mail panel, the second below it.
    • Vertical folds: The final fold is to the right of the mail panel. Folding requirements are very strict so make sure to adhere to them.
      This rule was created so that mailers would have a fold in the two areas that most often cause machine jamming the bottom and lead edge. These seem a little stringent, but we do want the mailers to arrive looking nice!
  6. Tabbing or fugitive glue closures are required:
    • Tabbing: Up to 1 ounce mailer needs two 1 inch tabs, mailers over 1 ounce need two 1.5 inch tabs and if you are using perforations or inserts it needs two 2 inch tabs.
    • Fugitive gluing: use a continuous glue line of 1/8 inch wide or glue spots of 3/8 inch diameter, three to four spots or elongated glue lines 1/8 inch wide, three to four lines. As an example, on a horizontal fold you will have two tabs above the mail panel or two to the right and one to the left. On a vertical fold you will have one tab above the mail panel and one to the left, or two to the left.
      This one really hurts! With all these tabs and glue, the mailers are really hard to open and in a lot of cases they tear. Not really the presentation we are looking for!
  7. Poly bag/envelope: If you use a poly bag or envelope, your mail will have to go at flat postage rates. You cannot use them with self-mailer letter size mail.
    This is not too onerous, but it would be nice to be able to use the clear envelopes to keep the mailers looking nice and still be able to see them.

Your best bet is to design your self-mailer and then send a pdf to your direct mail provider, to have them find any problems with the design. They can help to make sure you are automation compliant and save on postage. As you are going through the process, do not let it stop your creativity. It is the unique and creative pieces that get the recipients attention and increase your ROI.

Do not let these regulations limit your design. There are plenty of ways to create self-mailers that standout and get attention! Contact your mail provider for samples and suggestions.