B2B and B2C Direct Mail Design Advice and Tips

As an established mailing house and fulfilment house, we’ve seen plenty of direct mail design mistakes. It’s time to stop self-sabotaging marketing campaigns and start improving response rates.

Before you begin producing your direct mail and, possibly, utilising direct mail print services of mailing companies; you need to ask one question. What do you want to get out of a direct mail design? If you would like to increase open rates and, subsequently, responses; our tried and tested B2B direct mail and B2C tips will help.

Direct Mail Design

Allow for a little freedom

Your direct mail design doesn’t have to follow the traditional format. In this day and age, a little freedom stands out. ‘Messy’ B2B direct mail marketing and B2C campaigns interest the eye and, quite often, alignment reduces response. This is at odds with many designers, but it’s a tip to instil into your direct mail campaign, and mention to a mailing house should you outsource.

Improve readability

White text on a black background, except in headlines, reduces readability. However, White text on a black background, except in headlines, reduces readability. However, coloured text on white can also reduce readability. If you’re unconsciously reducing your direct mail pack readability, you are self-sabotaging your response rate. We’re sharing our top direct mail design tips to producing the most successful direct mail marketing campaign.

Picture before text

If you’re using a main picture, ensure your headline is below it.  A headline above a picture ensures that the reader’s eye will go straight to the image, reducing message understanding.  If you are using a secondary picture, put a sub-headline with a benefit below it.

Be different

Try to make every component of your marketing campaign look (or sound) different.  Difference attracts, regularity doesn’t. It’s like receiving a Christmas hamper and finding it’s full of the same items as last year. It’s the same with a piece of direct mail marketing; the reader should enjoy finding what elements it contains. That’s not to say that you can’t have an overarching brand theme, but that each element should avoid being too ‘same-ee’.

Encourage curiosity

Many consumers only slit open the envelope and peek inside, similar to those who look at the preview of an email. Make sure your keyhole view – particularly for your B2B direct mail – has some punch. Hide part of your headline, ensure they see there are multiple parts and make each section appear noticeably different.  To borrow an apt digital expression, anything that encourages them to ‘dwell’ on your direct mail is good for your response rates.

Be colourful

Warm colours in consumer direct mail design promotes a higher response, due to their welcoming association; we’re speaking as an experienced mailing house. For example, blue colours suggest science, and that the mailer information is factual and can be trusted. Yellow is synonymous with construction. Purple improves revenue because of its regal associations. Use colour to successfully reflect what you want the reader to feel, and you can be certain – albeit largely circumstantial without specific testing – it will affect your response rates.

Impact boosting images

Some pictures are better for attraction. If you use an impact boosting image as part of your personalised direct mail, you will gain more initial attention. However, not all services or products suit these pictures. Marketers and campaign managers need to be careful that they are not seen to ‘crowbar’ them into a direct marketing campaign when unsuitable.

You can also add ‘selling’ images to your direct marketing design where possible. Examples could be the product in use, or the product providing a reward.

Create multiple entry points

A creative ‘entry point’ appeals to the reader’s eye. This could be an image, text or even colour. A good direct marketing design, typically, has several ‘entry points’ for the eye. It is known to increase dwell time on your direct mail. However, speak to your chosen mailing company before it goes to direct mail print machines, as you don’t want it to appear cluttered.

Suggest offers

Dotted lines suggest coupons. Coupons suggest offers. Offers suggest bargains. Bargains attract your consumer.
You should also always repeat the offer as it is the purpose of your direct mail. For example, direct mail postcards should feature the offer on both sides. Remind them to take action.


Personalised direct mail is key. Readers enjoy seeing their name in print. Over 98% of consumers are more likely to open direct mailing if it is personalised. Recently, we personalised 1.1m direct mail pieces for eleven test campaigns, each item having two elements, with barcodes and personalisation throughout. In another case, we hyper-personalised a 100,000 direct marketing campaign that generated a voucher redemption rate in excess of 25%. It works.

Dimensional direct mail

Your direct mail doesn’t have to follow the standard format. You can have shapes cut into mailings, tabs that pull out like a pop-up book etc. Be aware that this will increase the direct mail postage and cost of creation for mailing companies. You should also consider the letterbox, and make sure your direct mail campaign fits through. Alternatively, for increased impact, have them sign for it. It encourages them to open and have a read.

It’s also wise to choose the right paper stock. For example, research has found that 4 in 10 millennials prefer a high-quality direct mail print design.

Direct Mail ColoursSuitable images

CMYK printing is made up of cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow, and kino (black). RGB colours for PC’s are red, green, blue, and Spot colours feature silver, gold, fluorescent, etc. We’ve outlined the RGB and CMYK difference for direct mail print and design.

Don’t forget to bleed

You would be amazed at how many direct mail campaign designs we see where the image, or blocks of colour, are meant to ‘bleed’ off the page. But, the artwork doesn’t do that. If printed, these items ooze poor quality and reduce response rates.

Be legal

Always make sure you’ve added the Terms & Conditions to your artwork when including an offer. Failing this, tell the reader where to find the Terms & Conditions on your website. This helps improve trust, thus increasing open rates.

If you would like help with direct mail design and producing a successful direct marketing campaign, give us a call on 0191 487 5148 or email us on info@wdmonline.co.uk.

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