How do you design a top-performing direct mail creative?

This is a question we get asked regularly at Snowball. Working with tech companies and emerging startups, most of our clients are pretty sophisticated when it comes to digital advertising and design. But when it comes to print design there’s often a gap. The in-house design teams either haven’t designed for print before or just simply don’t have the bandwidth to work on additional print campaigns.

This is where Snowball steps in to fill that gap and provide support so that design is not a barrier to getting campaigns switched on. We bring our recommendations so that our clients can hit the ground running with their direct mail and avoid cutting their teeth testing things we know from our deep experience, won’t perform in their space.

With print, there is an unending choice of formats. For B2B campaigns selling products or services we typically recommend starting with a letter envelope package. We call this format “The Workhorse”. There’s a reason you get a lot of these in your mailbox – They work! Especially if you have not sent any direct mail before. 

In the financial services world, which is one of the biggest users of direct mail, data security is a strong consideration. What we know from focus groups is that an envelope package makes the offer feel more professional, exclusive, and secure.

For B2C where reach is likely higher for Retail and/or consumer services, we recommend starting with a 6” x 11” postcard. This oversized postcard will help your message stand out in the mailbox and get noticed.

With your format chosen, it’s really important to focus on your design layout. This can make or break a campaign. Here are our top tips for letter pack design:

  1. For the envelope, advertising the product/offer with a short brand message in an eye-catching way is recommended
  2. Place the call to action in the top third of the letter as this will get read first
  3. Lean on graphical treatments for things like offers and calls to action which are easier to read and digest
  4. If you are including a monetary offer you will likely need to include some terms and conditions of the offer. Make room for this at the foot or on the back of the letter
  5. Make the process of response seem less onerous by conveying what the customer needs to do in the form of steps. E.G. Step 1 Register, Step 2 Apply Step 3 Activate your account
  6. Use one line testimonials from existing customers to foster trust
  7. Adding your top 3 FAQs in order to answer the more obvious questions

A typical engagement for us involves identifying the level of support needed. If clients have an internal resource for design Snowball provides templates and guidelines for those teams to design into. We also offer our own design resources for clients who need it.

If you need help designing a new piece or developing a current campaign, we would love to hear from you!

Written by: Katrina Shaw