Direct Mail, Mailing List

Mailpiece Design Best Practices

The Importance of Proper Mailpiece Design

Direct mail continues to be an effective marketing channel capable of reaching and converting new customers around the world. This multi-faceted marketing tool requires several mailpiece design elements to be successful.

  • A valuable product or service
  • A quality mailing list targeted to your product or service
  • Mailpiece design that converts

But your mailpiece design can affect more than just your conversion rates; it can also affect the cost of your campaigns. Attaining a quality, targeted mailing list is easy and affordable with help from a reputable company like ANS, but most of the cost of your campaign will come from the print and postage fees. If you fail to meet specific requirements laid out by the USPS, that cost could be must higher than necessary.

Avoid Unnecessary Direct Mail Costs

A properly designed mailpiece will ensure the best postage rates offered by the USPS. Last November, we shared about mailpiece specifications and how the shape, size, and weight can affect your postage rates. Review that information here.
For further help in designing your mailpiece for cost-effectiveness, the USPS offers assistance in the form of Mailpiece Design Analyst. These analysts can help you:

  • Test paper and actual mailpiece samples for acceptable thickness, background color, flexibility, rigidity, and barcode print tolerances, etc.
  • Assist you in navigating the Automated Business Reply Mail (ABRM) tool so that you can successfully generate your artwork.
  • Review and approve vendor-prepared “privately printed” forms for USPS special services.
  • Analyze the readability and automation compatibility of prospective or actual reply mailpieces. (Source:

Mailpiece Design That Converts

If your mailpiece is unable to convert the prospects on your mailing list into customers, then saving money only means you wasted less of your marketing spend. Proper mailpiece design requires planning and preparation in the following areas:

  1. Understand who your audience is and what they value or need.
  2. Identify the specific action you want prospects to take.
  3. Select the right format
  4. Design copy strategically

Understand who your audience is and what they value or need.

Before you can design an effective mailpiece, you first have to understand who you will be pitching to. Crafting a message to sell a car to a 21-year-old female is very different from the message used to sell the same car to a 56-year-old male. A significant first step would be to obtain a Customer Profile Report.

Identify the specific action you want prospects to take.

Another critical part of planning your direct mail campaign is identifying the specific action you want recipients of the campaign to take. How will that action lead to specific business results? You cannot craft a compelling message that converts if you do not first identify what that conversion looks like.

Select the right format

The amount of copy, images, and other graphic elements you can include on your mailpiece will depend on the format of the piece. A postcard can be very effective and is often the most cost-effective mailpiece for a campaign, but it’s size limits the available space for your message. A brochure or a catalog will cost more but allow for more information in the piece. Once you understand your target audience and the action you want them to take, you next need to determine the type of mailpiece that is required to help prospects take the desired action.

Design copy strategically

There are several elements to the copy of your mailpiece. These elements may include but are not limited to:

  • Headline
  • Subheading
  • Benefits
  • Offer
  • Call to action
  • Tracking information

Headlines should stand out and catch your prospects’ attention. Headlines should be larger and more prominent that subheadings and supporting copy. A proper headline is an element that will get your prospects to read the rest of your mailpiece. All copy needs to be written with your target audience in mind. Each benefit listed should address the specific values or needs of that audience to achieve the best results. The call to action needs to be clear, concise, and specific. Tell your prospect exactly what they need to do to capitalize on the benefits of your offer. Lastly, your offer needs a tracking mechanism to ensure proper attribution of your marketing efforts. You can use a specific landing page, discount code, QR code, phone number, etc. to track conversion and link them to particular campaigns.



There is no perfect template or design for mailpieces, but these basic specifications and guidelines will help craft effective direct mail campaigns that convert. One last tip, test several designs. By A/B testing mailpieces with unique tracking information, you will be able to fine-tune your campaigns to get the best results. For more help with direct mail campaigns, email our team at

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