Art & Design, Direct Mail Products

5 Best Practices for Creative Direct Mail Design

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of June 2023.

To help ensure that your marketing message makes an impact, your direct mail needs a great design that successfully gets the recipient to notice it and eventually, take action.

Every part of the direct mail piece you use for your campaign should be dedicated to at least one of the following:

  • grabbing attention
  • creating interest 
  • building desire
  • instilling conviction
  • prompting action 

Working together in harmony, they keep your prospect engaged. 


It depends on what format you’re using for your campaign. Direct mail postcard design is all about keeping things as simple as possible for consumers to understand. There’s only a limited amount of real estate to work with using that design.

On the other hand, direct mail envelope design usually gives you some more flexibility because there’s more room.That means more opportunities to use papers, inks, finishes, as well as other tactics, to stand out in the customer’s mailbox and avoid being tossed into the recycling bin. 

To increase your chances of success and good ROI, here are some direct mail design tips and best practices to consider when planning your campaigns.

1. Set Up a Visual Hierarchy

Whatever your offer or message is, prioritize it by using a combination of font, type size, and color to make it stand out to the customer. Guide their eye flow – how you want them to read or scan copy and understand visual elements – by using headings, subheadings, and white or “negative” space. 

2. Use Great Images

You want your pictures to be visually interesting, maybe even captivating, as well as easy to understand. The right artwork – whether it’s a professional-quality photograph or an illustration – should boost your message. A clear high-resolution image, printed on higher quality paper stock, increases your brand’s selling power.

Include brand images – your brand image is how customers and prospects perceive your company. It’s based on their interactions with you, what they’ve seen and heard about you, and their overall impression.

Creating and maintaining a strong brand image is essential to success in today’s competitive marketplace. It can help you attract new customers, build customer loyalty, and drive sales.

3. Integrate Digital World Icons

People today communicate with icons, emojis, and other symbols as much as with words. Your direct mail should reflect this reality by including social brand logos, Google Maps-type location pins, word bubbles, and other modern touchpoints and symbols for today’s audiences. 

4. Get Personal

Accurate list data lets you segment your prospects based on geography, gender, age group, income range, or other factors. With Variable Data Printing (VDP), leverage that information on your mail pieces. Instead of something generic and bland, the images, offers, and calls-to-action are likely to be much more relevant to them personally. 

5. Make a Strong Call-to-Action

You can’t afford to be timid. So break out the big type – a bold font – an arrow – a highlighted box – to call attention to the action you want your prospect to take. 

Whether it’s a phone number, a website, or a physical address, don’t make your customer scan through too much copy to figure out how to take their next step. And personalization, with a PURL, QR code, or customized map, really says that you have their specific interests, and products or services to offer.

Wrapping It Up

Excellent design and creativity is achievable for any direct mail format you choose. 

At, our experts will work closely with you to figure out the best direct mail creative practices for your brand’s individual campaign goals and budget. We make the entire process run accurately and efficiently, saving you time and money, and delivering peace of mind.

Need more details on how your mail can get acted on? Contact our team at!

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