Direct Mail Formats

Does Format matter?

One of the most frequently asked questions PSE get asked is, what format is the best? That is more of a complicated question than you might think. They all have their pros and cons. While we all may have our favourites, each different format can serve a different purpose. In the blog post, I am going to break down the most common direct mail formats, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee pull up a chair and let’s dive in.

First off, we need to know what the most common formats are:

  • Letter Mailers (or mailing packs)
  • Postcards
  • Catalogues/Brochures
  • Samples
  • Roll Folds
  • Pop Up and Surprise
  • Video Packs

It’s important to keep in mind that these are just the most common formats. Any piece of marketing that you send to a household is technically a piece of direct mail. Direct mail is a versatile and rich marketing channel where the only limit is your imagination.

Letter Mailers

Letter mailers or mailing packs are a bundle of offline marketing materials packaged together usually in a branded envelope. The kits almost always consist of an envelope, letter and usually a voucher or a leaflet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also send roll folds, video packs or many other formats.

  • Lots of information and brand space
  • Very versatile as you can package anything
  • Opening a letter release gives the opener feelings of anticipation and can boost how they receive your message


Postcards are probably the most common format of direct mail. They have been around for years, and as the technology has advanced, they are no longer just flat pieces of A5. You can foil, emboss, print of a wide variety of paper stock of varying weights, shapes and sizes. All the versatility can ensure you capture your consumers’ attention straight away.

  • Very cost-effective
  • Low postage rates (size and weight dependant)
  • Very versatile


If you want to tell engaging stories to ensure high return rates, you can’t go wrong with catalogues. Brochures, by their very nature, lend themselves to telling stories. The longer format allows you to advertise more services/products and add more eye-capturing images. They come in various sizes, can be hard or paper-backed, have different stitching the possibilities are endless.

  • Tell an engaging story
  • Advertise more products
  • Can have some of the best conversion rates


Direct Mail format doesn’t just have to be size, it can be what you send too. Sample marketing is the best and easiest way to get your product in the hands of the consumer. If the products you sell are the right fit for samples. If you sell TV’s for instance, giving away free samples of televisions might make great headline but isn’t a good business model. The piece of marketing that will accompany the sample can make a feature of the sample, especially if your sample is small enough to be stuck on the mailing piece.

  • Customers making the buying decision at home
  • High response rates
  • Perfect for prospects

Roll Folds

Roll folds are a brilliant offline marketing mailing piece. The extra room allows you to tell that all-important story but when rolled and folded back up will enable them to be dispatched cheaply. The bonus of roll folds is that you play with them, opening and closing them and drives the interaction and increases the lifetime of the advert.

  • Tell a story
  • Amazing postage rates
  • Higher interaction and advertising life

Pop Up & Surprise

Pop up and surprise mailers come in all shapes and sizes, can be customised to be or do pretty much whatever you want. The interaction rates with this type of mailer are through the roof. Individuals will fiddle and play with them constantly, giving your brand excellent advertising time.

  • Fabulous advertising life
  • Conversation starter
  • Amazing interaction rates

Video Packs

These high impact mailing pieces are stunning. Fully customisable inside and out. Videos start to play as soon as you open them, and you can have packs that play multiple videos. Packs can now come with a button that, when a customer pushes the button it can send a text or email to you to say they are interested in the product. Land Rover won the DMA marketing gold award last year using this technology! We like them so much we use them in our campaigns.

  • Great talking point
  • High impact
  • high interaction rates


Thanks for reading our Direct Mail Format blog. I hope this blog post has given you a clearer picture of what format may work best for your next campaign. PSE has over 25 in offline marketing; it’s what we do. Let us advise you about what format will work best for your next campaign and get in touch here.

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