Folded Self-Mailer

Folded Self-Mailer

The expanded postcard when your message needs more landscape

Folded Self-MailerA folded self-mailer is often seen as a multi-page postcard.

It’s a single sheet of paper or card stock that is folded one or more times to create a multi-page or multi-panel mailer.

A typical self-mailer would be:

  • a 3 panel mailer measuring 8 x 15 inches which folds twice to a finished size of 8 x 5 inches;
  • or a 4-panel mailer measuring 8 x 20 which folds three times to a finished size of 8 x 5 inches.

Of course, you are not limited to three or four panels.  Your folded self-mailer could have more panels as long as your printer has a large enough press to handle it.  Be sure to consult with your printer before you design.

Self-mailer booklets

If your self-mailer needs to be an even longer format, you may want to consider a self-mailer booklet.  This can be any number of pages (think of a catalog) and will not require single-sheet printing.

Instead, booklet mailers are usually printed in 4 or 8 page lots, then collated and bound together after printing.


Folded self-mailer sizes

The size of the self-mailer flyer can be as large or as small as you want with some restrictions from the Post Office.

For the most part, the Post Office is only concerned about the finished (folded) size of your mailer – that is, how your mailer will be sized when it’s mailed.  How many panels/pages or folds is not a concern.

The finished (folded) size of your self-mailer will determine your postage rate.

Self-mailers that are no larger than 6-1/8 x 11-1/2 inches qualify for so-called letter rates (the same you would pay for regular mail).  But if the finished size is larger, you will pay a surcharge – which could be close to double the postage of regular mail.

As noted earlier, you should also check with your printer to find out what limitations you may face with the paper dimensions of the printing press. But other than that, you are free to test your imagination and creativity.

Folding options for a folded self-mailer

Once the piece is printed, you can fold it as many times as you want – although you should plan this out long before you print it.

Keep in mind there are several ways you can fold a mailer.

  • You can “barrel-fold” your mailer so that when you open the front panel, it continues to roll out like a barrel.
  • You can “gate-fold” your mailer so that the finished mailer appears to have two gates that can be opened from the left or the right.
  • You can “double-fold” your mail so that you first fold the mailer in half,  then half again.  This is a fairly common folding process that has one important disadvantage.  Every time you fold, your inside spread gets buried deeper – and decreases the chances your reader will see it.

To qualify for automation and presorting postage discounts, the fold of the mailer must be sealed with a wafer seal or glue before mailing- so there are no open flaps.

The power of design

The folded self-mailer is a favorite format for some because it lends itself to more interesting graphic design.  This is best used when photos, illustrations and other graphics can contribute to communicating your message.

But be careful not to let the design take center stage.  Your message is the most important element in your mailer. Your design should be used to communicate your message – not replace it.

Advantages of the folded self-mailer

Price is one of the advantages of the folded self-mailer.  Because there is just one element to print and no envelope inserting required, this format is usually less expensive to print and mail than envelope formats.  However, you should expect additional design costs with a folded self-mailer.

A self-mailer is also perceived to be a non-personalized communication, which means it may get noticed (and even read) by individuals other than the addressee.  This gives the format strong “pass-along” potential that could yield an expanded readership.

Built-in reply cards

Another advantage of the folded self-mailer (vs. a postcard mailer) is that you can provide a reply card on one of the panels. In that case, you will need to make sure the mailer is printed on card stock.

If your mailer needs to include a built-in reply envelope, you’ll need to consult with a specialized printer that can create combined order form/envelopes.

Response handling – phone, landing pages, PURLs

The real test of any direct mail campaign is the response.  As noted above, the folded self-mailer often includes a reply card.  You can also generate response by phone.  If you have a retail business, response is usually in the form of people walking into your business and presenting a coupon.

In recent years, response has also been handled by landing pages.  A landing page is a dedicated web page designed specifically for the particular direct mail program.  It helps to facilitate the response more easily, more immediately and automatically.

To further advance the landing page, we also have personalized landing pages (or PURLs) which provides more personalized messaging, pre-populated forms and better tracking of all responses.

Final Note

When designing a folded self-mailer, think ahead of how the piece will fold.  Treat each fold as a separate message area. Think of the inside spread (after everything is unfolded) as a single message area.  And think about how your reply card will show.  If the reply card is getting “buried” by the folds, this could decrease response.


How we can help

We can help you create and execute your folded self-mailer campaign.

We can provide a full-service approach that includes:

  • list research/acquisition
  • offer planning/development
  • copywriting/messaging
  • graphic design/creative
  • testing strategy
  • print/mail production
  • landing page/PURL creation and hosting
  • post-mailing analysis

We also provide our creative services (copywriting and graphic design) to those who prefer to manage their own campaigns.

If you want to handle everything yourself, but would still like our guidance, we provide coaching services on a project or monthly basis.

To learn more …

Please contact Bob McCarthy at508-473-8643 or  Or fill out the form below

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