It’s time to tap into your creative side! The design part of the direct mail development process enables you to unleash your imagination and artistic abilities. It’s important, however, to keep a few recommendations in mind to ensure your design is effective. Twenty percent of your direct mail campaign success comes from creative, which means developing an eye-catching design is critical to your response rate and return on investment (ROI).
To help you design the perfect mail piece, Design Distributors compiled the following 10 tips:
1. Choose the Perfect Size
Every great design starts with choosing the perfect size mail piece. You can’t develop creative without knowing the exact dimensions and bleed marks. Size can also elevate its visibility in the mailbox. Larger dimensions provide more room for design, and stand out more. However, you can still develop an eye-catching design at standard and smaller sizes. To determine the right size, weigh a number of factors, including content, appearance, visibility, timing, space, and cost-effectiveness.
Mail pieces come in a variety of basic sizes and custom dimensions:
- Small 4.25” x 6”
- Standard 6” x 9”
- Jumbo 6” x 11”
- Extra Large 9” x 12”
- 6 x 9
- 9 x 12
- Three-Panel Horizontal 9” x 18”
- Three-Panel Oblong 6” x 27”
- Four-Panel 9” x 24”
When considering size, you may also want to think about choosing 3D mail instead of a flat, 2D piece. To create lumpy mail, send your offer or message in a box, tube or flat mail piece with a pop-up. One reason to consider this? The response rates increase dramatically when you send a piece of lumpy mail.
2. Use Variable Data Printing
How relevant will your direct mail piece be to your clients? If you’re using variable data printing (VDP), the answer is very. When you’re designing a mail piece, always consider adding customization. VDP is a form of printing that enables marketers to develop personalized messages and designs for specific individuals. All of this at high speed. Changing copy or imagery based on the receiver will increase the relevancy of the message. This, creates a deeper connection to the mail piece, as well as improved response rates and ROI.
For example, a retail pet store that provides grooming services sends out an offer for “10% off all nail trimming for all pup customers.” To elevate the design, they can use VDP. Each mail piece can contain the name and an image of the type of dog the discount is for.
3. Pick the Right Colors
Colors matter. There are two ways you can play with your color in your campaign design. Incorporating your brand’s colors into the creative ensures brand recall among recipients. The more times the audience sees the tones and patterns associated with your brand, the more likely they will immediately think of you. The other method of choosing colors for your campaign is based on the emotions each conveys.
Colors and their associated feelings include:
- Red: Passion, Power, Excitement
- Pink: Femininity, Love
- Blue: Peace, Harmony, Calm
- Purple: Luxury, Royalty, Wisdom
- Green: Health, Growth, Generosity
- Yellow: Fun, Positivity, Happiness
- Orange: Adventure, Creativity, Balance
- Gray: Neutrality
- Brown: Comfort, Security
- Black: Elegance, Sophistication, Mystery
- White: Innocence, Goodness
4. Research Images
There are also two directions you can take regarding imagery: stock images, such as from Getty Images, or your own photographs. The type of image depends on the offer or message you’re trying to convey. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, you can use a lifestyle stock image of a man or woman living life: riding a bike, playing with their children, traveling or enjoying a meal. If you’re a telecommunications company trying to sell a new product, you’ll want to set up a photoshoot to showcase someone using it.
Other tips to consider when picking your image include using high-resolution photos at 1200 dpi or more. You should also try avoiding busy backgrounds. If you do, try to refrain from putting text directly over them.
5. Incorporate White Space
When creating any design, whether digital or print, it’s important to incorporate white space. By “white space,” designers typically mean negative space, not necessarily the actual color white. White space can be differentiated in two ways: by usefulness and size. When designers make a conscious effort to utilize negative space for emphasis or structure, this is known as active white space. Passive white space occurs naturally, and can be found between words or lines or surrounding logo areas. Micro white space is the small gap between design elements, while macro white space is larger areas between layout elements. Adding different types of white space can enable readers to focus on what matters (e.g., the offer), improve comprehension, guide the receiver, and add emphasis.
6. Keep Copy Concise
To maintain a balance between graphics and copy, and to ensure all recipients understand your message, keep your copy concise. Write informal copy directed at readers’ interests and keep it as short or long as necessary to make your point. The CDMP suggests limiting the opening paragraph of a letter or brochure to no more than 11 words, using short words of five letters or less and short sentences throughout, and utilizing serif typeface. If a single paragraph contains more than seven lines, break it into multiple paragraphs, it states.
7. Ensure Offer & Call to Action Are Clear
Forty percent of your campaign’s success comes for your offer. Recipients can typically take advantage of this through the call to action. It’s therefore critical to enlarge or bold your offer and call to action, drawing in your reader’s attention. Keep both short and clear. If you’re offering 20 percent off your next purchase if a code is used online, make sure your audience knows they must apply the code to get the discount.
8. Decide on a Finish
To make your design pop, you’ll need to choose the perfect finish. A direct mail piece’s texture and appearance can help convey your message.
Types of finish include:
- Gloss: Shiny, this stock ensures images appear high definition, and adds a layer of protection. It’s perfect for all mail types, especially brochures and postcards.
- Satin: This exudes luster similar to gloss, but reflects less light. It also produces sharp and vivid colors, and has the durability to withstand years of handling.
- Soft Touch: This finish creates a soft, velvety texture, with colors appearing more polished and sophisticated.
- Uncoated: Uncoated finishes are available in a variety of textures and provide an elegant look. This stock is great for all mail pieces, especially letter packages.
9. Proof Your Creative
Once you’ve decided on all the factors necessary to develop an eye-catching design, you may want to send it straight off to the printer—but hold off on doing so. Proof your design to guarantee it arrives to the printer mistake-free. You and several others should double check spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in the copy. Ensure your images mesh with your message and work together. Your design should have flow, copy should be concise, and your main points should be clear. Review the tracking information you’ve included: tracking phone numbers, QR codes, PURLs, and more. And before sending it off, check you’ve designed in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) colors and not RGB (red, green, and blue) to ensure print quality perfection.
10. Test the Design
To verify your design will be a success, it’s time to put it to the test. Develop A/B tests by creating two versions of the same mail piece, with one change on the second version. This altered element can be the copy, images, headlines, call to action, offer, colors or fonts. Split your total prospects in half. One half will receive the first version while the others will receive the second. The version that outperforms the other will help you design your future campaigns.
Design Distributors has more than 50 years of experience helping clients develop a successful direct mail piece. For more design tips, contact us today. To get your mail piece started, receive a free quote.