Which works better – letter vs. self-mailer?

Direct mail format selection is an important part of the planning process.  Choosing the right format should be a strategic decision, not a creative preference.

The most common question we get on direct mail formats is “Which works better – letter vs. self-mailer?  Let’s take a look …

Both the letter and self-mailer formats have their advantages.

A head-to-head comparison

Letter packages allow you to convey a more personal touch.  If you want your mail piece to appear to be a one-to-one personalized communication, the only way to do it is with a personalized letter.

Letters are also more familiar to most readers because we have been reading them all our lives.  We know where they start and where they end.    When you pick up a postcard or self-mailer, you’re never quite sure where it begins.

Self-mailers (including postcards) are more graphically oriented.  If your product or service is best conveyed by a photograph or illustration, this may be a good option.

One concern with self-mailers is that they sometimes get so overly designed, and the message gets lost.

Self-mailers provide better pass-along potential.  Because they are less personal than letters, people tend to pick them up and reader even when they are not the recipient.  This means your message is more likely to get passed around an office or home.

Self-mailers and especially postcards are always less expensive to print and mail than letter packages. With self-mailers, you’re only producing one piece, but letter packages typically include three separate print jobs – for the letter, outer envelope and reply card.

We recommend self-mailers and postcards for retailers, restaurants, as follow-up reminders to previous responders and when in-the-mail costs are tight.

We recommend direct mail letter packages (both with and without a brochure) for almost everything else.

If you’d like to discuss an upcoming campaign – or if you’re looking for ways to improve an existing mailing program – call us and let’s schedule an introductory call.