Design Fundamentals for Your Direct Mail Campaigns

September 27, 2019

Planning a good direct mail appeal has many components – strategy, data, creative, artwork, suppliers, and timelines, just to name a few.  With all these elements, sometimes the basics get lost in the shuffle. 

Here are three fundamentals for creating a stronger appeal and optimizing the experience. And be sure to read to the end for a bonus tip!

Easy to read letters

First and foremost, white space is essential. Text that is blocked off in easy-to-read paragraphs and is in a large font (12 or 13 point is best) are vital to readability.

Keep the page layout clean, and easy to follow. When you want to emphasize an idea, use bolding and underlined sentences. Typographical emphasis draws the reader into the most important points and allows them to scan with ease. In the online world, underlining is exclusively used for links, but in conventional hard copy letters, it is still successfully used for emphasis. 

Straightforward reply coupons

The best advice for a well-designed reply coupon is to only include what is absolutely necessary. Keep the choices to a minimum and ask only the questions you absolutely need to know the answers to. Aim for simple, clutter-free and easy-to-read, as too many choices and too much information, can overload and paralyze the donor. 

Consider the overall size of the reply, and design it as large as possible given your budget. The ultimate goal is to provide an easy, straightforward vehicle to give – so don’t add barriers if you don’t have to! 

Envelopes that ask to be opened

Many say the envelope is the most important component of a direct mail package. If the envelope isn’t opened, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the appeal is. Consider the envelope size and shape. If you always send a standard #10 envelope, mix it up for one appeal and try something new. 

How about putting the window on the back, so you have the whole front for design? Or a full-colour envelope, rather than one or two? 

Check out this terrific blog post by my colleague Margaret, examining the seemingly innocent outer envelope, How To Get Your Donor’s Attention.

Bonus tip …

 One of my favourite envelope design elements is incorporating a custom indicia. It’s easy to do and it doesn’t add extra cost for Canada Post. Consider the indicia artwork to be new-found envelope real estate! And, be sure to use imagery that enhances or highlights your appeal strategy, or includes your logo to free up some space. Here are some recent examples: 

To get started on your own custom indicia, you can download a template from Canada Post.

For your next direct mail appeal, use these tips to make your campaign pop. You can also check out the work we’ve done for inspiration! And if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch!  

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Danielle Stevens

Danielle Stevens