Direct mail Design and best practices

A perfectly timed, well-written piece that has a clear and relevant message, with a compelling call to action, is priceless. Match your mail piece to your marketing objectives by carefully choosing the best format, look, feel and messaging.

Follow the 40/40/20 rule

40% Audience

The right data to find the right people. Before all else, consider who you’re mailing to and what information you’ll need to reach them. A well-defined target profile and/or mailing list is key to success – whether it is your own customer list or a rented list.

Consumer Audience Intelligence
• Demographics
• Geographics
• Life stage and lifestyle

40% offering

What’s in it for me?
What are you offering and why is it relevant? This is where you consider what action you want someone to take, why they should take action and how you’ll reward them for doing it.  If you don’t offer something of value, you’ll be disappointed by the response no matter how good your data and creative. 

• Free information
• Discounts, specials, rebates
• Donation matching
• Exclusive invitation
• Client onboarding incentive

• Free gift
• Samples
• Free trial
• Loyalty points
• Promotional contest

20% Creative Execution

Time to brand your look and feel. This includes creative, message and format. It’s also about how you integrate direct mail with other media – and in what order. Consider working with a Canada Post partner to ensure your process fits budgets and timelines. Consider paper quality, weight and finish. Add a varnish or coating to enhance the experience. Include inserts like buck slips and cards to make your brand difficult to ignore.

• Enhancements
• Formats
• Inks
• Coatings
• Finishes

• Technology (AR and QR)
• Inserts
• Dimensional
• Interactive
• Sensory


From cards to catalogues, there is a variety of direct mail formats available to use. Each comes with its
own set of benefits and pricing considerations, so make your choice according to your objective and
budget. Here are your main options:


These are the simplest forms of direct mail, the most cost effective and the fastest to create.
The key is to keep your message and call to action clear, such as to attend a VIP event, take advantage of a sale online or in-store, sign up for a class or check out a store opening. Consider using an oversized piece to grab attention.


Another cost-effective format is one that doesn’t include an envelope. Instead, the customer’s address appears directly on the direct mail piece. A self-mailer can come in different formats, including postcards, flyers and brochures with multiple folded panes, often with an adhesive that holds it together. Without an envelope you see the message right away.


Sending out a flyer to new areas can bring potential new customers than may not have heard of your business. Tracking with a Qr code and a coupon or gift will bring them to browse your products. a form on a flyer landing page can help build a data base for future sales connections through email, facebook, pinterest etc.