In Design Tips, Direct Mail 101

Direct Mail Design 101: 9 Critical Elements

One of the biggest reasons a direct mail campaign underperforms is a weak direct mail design. Focus only on the essential elements, necessary to convey your message. 

1. Your company logo and colors

Reinforce your brand by placing your logo at the top of your mail piece and incorporate your brand colors. If you stay consistent with your website, your prospects will instantly recognize your company.

Use colors that will quickly communicate the essence of your business to your target audience. For instance, red has become the color that represents education, so if you are an expert that offers educational programs, red would be a great choice for your postcards. Use nice colors and flattering contrasts.

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2. An image or a graphic that supports the message

Include an attention-grabbing image, but stick to a central theme with your graphic. The link between your headline and the graphic must be very obvious. Any pictures should fully support your message. Choose photos that will help your prospects know, like and trust your products and services.

3. Headline

You need a clear, bold headline that immediately communicates what product or service you are promoting, or the problem you are solving for the recipient. So, start with a direct headline that gets to the core of your message. Put your main heading on the front of your mail and provide an additional subheading on the back that leads more into the text.

4. The Offer

Your offer is what will motivate customers to take action right away. It could include a discount, a freebie, or something that would be considered of high value in your niche. The winning formula is high value + low cost (free). So make it relevant and attractive.

5. The Benefits

Briefly list the benefits to make your product desirable. Make sure you don’t list features instead. A feature addresses a common problem experienced by your customers and enables them to do something. On the other hand, a benefit is an outcome or a result that the users will hopefully experience by using your product, and the reason why they’d buy it. Offer bulleted points of benefits easy to scan at first sight. Be as specific as you can by giving tangible numbers and building credibility.

6. Body Text

Skimming is a reading technique that helps us to read more quickly or to decide if the text is relevant to us and whether we should read it more carefully. We are skimming text to get the overall sense.

Scanning is about finding specific information through the text. When we scan texts we are looking at pictures, titles, subheadings, bulleted lists, first sentences of each paragraph and keywords.

So, put your most important information in these places! And make sure to use features like headings, bulleted lists, and text boxes to help organize content and make the information skimmable.

Avoid the mistake of cramming your mail piece with too much information. Don’t overwhelm your postcard with a crowded design either. Keep it simple, elegant and beautiful.

7. Fonts

Keep things simple, don’t use too many fonts, this can make your piece look messy and distract the reader’s attention from your message. Use dark text on light background for maximum readability, and make your headline larger than the body text.

Align text left or centered, if you have more than 3 sentences, you should left align.

8. Call to Action (CTA)

The call to action highlights the action you want your readers to take next. Tell them what to do – “join for a free month”, “get started”, “claim your special offer”  or “call”. Also tell them when like “now” or “today”. Provide links to online donation forms, your website, social media pages, or custom landing pages so that it’s easy for your recipient to take action. Provide a variety of ways to be contacted, by phone or email or text. Let them choose their convenient way of response to your mail.

9. Contact information / Return Address

Gain trust by putting your physical address on your mail piece. Make Contact Information big and bold, and put in place a tracking method for each provided contact data for further analytics.

Follow these simple, common sense rules, and your direct mail design will look professional.

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