A Complete Guide to Direct Mail Sizes
Choosing the right size direct mail piece for your campaign can be a difficult task. There are many factors to consider when making your decision. What are your marketing goals? How much does your budget allow? What size will fit the message you’re trying to convey? Will certain sizes be delivered faster than others? Which pieces will stand out in the mailbox? Which will give you the best response rates? Take the time to thoughtfully pick the size that will enhance and communicate your creative, guaranteeing success.
No matter what type of direct mail piece you choose, the following guide will help you pick the perfect size for your campaign, enabling you to maximize your message, design, exposure, and deliverability.
Every marketer should incorporate postcards into their campaigns! These double-sided cards offer a variety of advantages, from versatility to affordability. Plus, they boast a fairly high response rate at an average of 4.25 percent. Before you take advantage of these benefits, you’ll need to choose the format. Some can offer the lowest postage rates and provide the advantages of first-class mail. All sizes come in a variety of paper stocks.
A majority of postcards come in four sizes:
A small postcard offers many advantages ranging from cost to fast delivery times. They can be mailed via First Class at a lower rate than by Marketing Mail. First Class provides a faster service, plus forwarding and return service at no additional cost. Postcards are defined by the USPS as pieces that fall between 3.5" x 5", and 4.25" x 6", with the most popular size being 4.25" x 6". Anything larger than that is defined by the USPS as a letter. The small size is effective for simple, straight-forward messages and designs.
Standard postcards, which are 6” x 9”, are the popular option for many successful campaigns. The standard postcard has a greater chance of standing out in the mailbox than a small postcard. There’s more room for creativity and versatility. You can display your design vertically, horizontally, or both.
At 6” x 11”, the jumbo postcard remains within the 6.125” x 11.5” range necessary to be considered for the Marketing Mail rate. This card offers similar flexibility as the standard size, just with larger proportions.
This size is hard to find, but Design Distributors offers it! At 9” x 12”, this postcard offers one of the largest dimensions. It guarantees you’ll increase visibility in the mailbox. Of course, with greater proportions comes more cost, as this piece will mail at the flat rate as opposed to the letter rate. However, if your budget can swing it, it’s definitely worth it.
If you need to send detailed information to your mailing list, a letter package is the way to go. Design Distributors offers flexible, custom mailing options to fit every campaign. Packages can include up to 24 inserts, ensuring you’re able to convey your message and provide response devices. A highly versatile piece, you can incorporate variable data printing by customizing text, images, and offers to improve your response rates. You can also choose from a variety of paper qualities and pick double-sided printing for a cost-effective campaign.
Letters typically fall under three size categories:
The most economical option, the standard letter measures 8.5” x 11”. It’s perfect for newsletters, notices, or long-form sales letters. You can make an impact while saving money on your campaign. Ask for double-sided printing to conserve even more.
The extra large is just three inches longer than the standard at 8.5” x 14”. That additional space is ideal for a detachable form. This format is optimal for nonprofits, political campaigns, and more.
Make an impression with this tabloid-style piece. You can convey a plethora of information accompanied by large images, tables, or graphs. Although a bit pricier, the 11” x 17” size is sure to make an impact on the recipient.
A folded self-mailer is the perfect in-between solution for marketers. It boasts qualities of a postcard with its eye-catching visuals and others of a letter with its privacy capabilities. No matter the size, all self-mailers have the ability to be folded into either trifold, bifold, or oblong shapes. Trifold mailers break up content into several sections, ensuring the text and graphics are easily digestible. Bifolds are a great alternative and perfect for sales pitches because they offer more room for pictures. The oblong format can help you stand out with its unique shape.
The three most common folded self-mailers are either:
Although it’s the smallest, the two-panel self-mailer is the most cost-effective of the three options. Folding down to 6" x 9", you’ll be able to get your message across concisely and affordably. Although the cost-savings is important, the amount of copy will typically drive the size as opposed to the cost.
Although both the three- and four-panel mailers fold down to 6" x 9", the three-panel is more cost-effective because it utilizes less paper. However, it still offers more room than a postcard and letter. Plus, it allows you to conceal variable text that is typically exposed on a postcard.
The four-panel self-mailer is 6 inches longer than the three-panel, at 9" x 24" and folds to 6" X 9". This means more space and security for your message and images than either the two- or three-panel self-mailers.
Catalogs are an investment, but they often drive higher response rates than other types. These are especially influential when targeting high-value customers. These larger pieces of direct mail give customers a tactile experience, enabling them to spend an average of 15 minutes reading a catalog to find products they like. Add variable data printing to your catalog campaign and watch your performance skyrocket.
The three popular catalog sizes and formats are:
The standard 8.5” x 11” allows you to provide a wide selection of product or service options to customers. The full-page format ensures room for full-size pictures or graphics, so customers can see what they’re purchasing.
Mailing any size catalog sends a big message—you care and the recipient is special to your company. The smallest size, the 5.5” x 10.5”, is a tall and slim way to get your catalog out while saving some of your budget. This cost-effective format can reduce postage costs because it qualifies for letter package postage.
If you want to showcase your high-resolution product or service photographs, the extra large catalogs are the size for your project! Use the 12” x 12” catalogs for extra content such as reviews, testimonials, or inspiration pieces that won’t fit in a smaller format.
If you want to measure and track your campaign results, include a return envelope. This gives your customers a convenient way to reply to your offer, inquire for more information, or donate to your organization. Design Distributors offers two popular options or you can customize them. Business reply envelopes ensure your recipients don’t have to pay postage when they respond to you. Courtesy reply envelopes are ideal if you are guaranteed to receive a response such as when you send a bill. The courtesy reply requires the recipient to affix postage to the envelope. Our envelopes also come in a variety of colors and can be customized with text and graphics.
Our standard reply envelopes come in a variety of sizes including:
The #9 reply envelope is an industry standard because it’s small enough to fit inside a standard letter package, but large enough to hold full-sized forms. Please note though that a #9 does not fit into a 6 x 9 envelope by machine as it exceeds the machine insertion tolerance. We recommend using an #8-5/8 reply envelope when using a 6 x 9 outer envelope.
Choosing the perfect size for your direct mail piece can elevate your campaign. If you can’t decide on a size, you can split your files and test them to find the best ROI for your program. For instance, if you have a database of 18,000, choose three formats, and run 9,000 of each. After you track your responses, you’ll find out which works best for your brand and campaign.
Design Distributors can help you decide on the format that will fit your budget, convey your message to your target market, be delivered during your desired in-home window, and garner great results. For more information on our sizes or to develop a custom shape or format, contact us today!