As a marketer, a significant part of your job is knowing what you’re marketing, who would find value in what you’re marketing, and then going out and finding out how to put yourself in front of those people. You do the legwork of gathering the appropriate data, you double and triple check your sources, and you structure your funnel to allow for a smooth sales process. Your foundation is solid and you’re ready to get converting.

The question remains: how do you get your audience’s attention to begin with? You can’t make a conversion if they don’t know you exist.

This is where design comes in, and it’s a tough one to handle. It’s hard to deny the fact that marketing today is much more visually saturated than ever before. Big screens in Times Square, Instagram and Facebook feeds, liveries on the side of a bus, giant billboards down the street… our eyes have likely never witnessed so much advertisement than in today’s marketing landscape. Grabbing someone’s attention with a stunning design is very difficult to do.

So how do you win with design? If you’re using print marketing in your campaign, then you’re in luck; you’ve got a competitive edge. Digital marketing and the abundance of visual content that complements it has opened up a lot of real estate at the mailbox, and people are still checking it every day. In fact, 79% of households say they scan or read direct mail ads and 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions, according to stats shared by This means that your well-designed print piece will have a better chance of grabbing a consumer’s attention, hopefully leading to a conversion.

The major benefit to designing a print piece stems from the fact that your creativity is not limited to pixels on a digital screen. Print is not only a visual experience but also a tactile one. Creating something that can be put into someone’s hands allows you appeal to more senses which improves your chances of leaving a better impression. That’s what you want as a marketer, right? This leaves you with the task of conjuring up something that will make that happen. Here are a few ideas for you to keep in mind when crafting your next direct mail piece:

Overall Design

Envisioning what your final outcome will look like helps you piece individual elements together to create something that holds up your brand image. What will the piece look like at first glance? Does it grab your attention? How well does it stand out in the pile of mail consumers sift through every day? Does it represent your company’s image? How will consumers potentially interact with it? These are a few thoughts to keep in mind when putting together your mail piece.

Touch and Feel

A significant benefit to having direct mail collateral is the physical impression you make with consumers. Utilizing a print piece that has a quality feel to it is just as important as the visuals you place on it. Are you using cardstock or coated material? How thick or thin is the piece? Something with a bit of weight and a sturdy touch is likely to stand out better than a simple sheet of paper. Texture can also add a dynamic that gives incentive to more interaction. The better you can mix these elements together, the better your chances are of making a lasting impression.

Typography and Copy

Of course, you need to communicate to consumers what your company does, what incentive you’re providing them, and where they can get in touch with you. Wording this message and how you want to visually present that falls in line with the tone your company possesses. If you’re a casual, conversational brand, maybe some lighthearted language coupled with a fun font will suit you. For the more formal out there, perhaps the buttoned-up, straight-to-the-point syntax and a simple yet elegant font makes more sense. Your brand’s voice is just as significant as your image. Ensuring you communicate that through your text will help you connect with your intended audience.

Integrated Technology

It’s not a commonly known idea, but injecting the 21st century into your mail campaign is a very doable concept. Including technology in your print pieces provides an even further incentive for consumers to engage with you. Personalized URLs (PURLs) and QR codes are among the most common forms of advertising a digital experience. Users can use their mobile devices or desktop computers to connect with you through the provided medium on your mailer. This can allow you to bring potential customers into your digital funnel, allowing you to collect more data and better engage with them through emails and social media.

If you want to up the ante, you can include elements like what is found in USPS’s Irresistible Campaign. Augmented reality gives consumers an incentive to utilize their mobile devices directly in conjunction with your print piece. Video players can provide a similar experience to that of a Hallmark card that plays a tune upon opening. These avenues may be require a bit more of an investment, but your chance of making a significant impression are likely pretty high.

Arts & Crafts

This ties in everything mentioned above and puts it into a unique package (literally, in some cases) that will definitely beat your average mailer. This may be better suited for a smaller, more defined audience, depending on your budget. However, a popup paper table will probably make a better statement than your standard tri-fold brochure.

With 70% of people curious about what they’ll find in their mailbox every day, according to Compu-Mail, a print piece with a thoughtful design can leave a much more memorable impression than a digital screen could. You don’t have to ditch your digital marketing efforts, but having a direct mail campaign in your mix can greatly increase your chances of making conversions and also nurturing current relationships.


This article was originally published on printCPG’s blog.