How to Maximize Your Direct Mail's Appeal
How creative have you been lately with your direct mail? My favorite way to grab attention is with embellishments. This is a great option for making direct mail stand out like no other marketing channel can. Why do I love them? Well, to start, they engage the sense of touch, which is very powerful. I also like them because there are so many different options to choose from.
The tactile nature of direct mail is a huge asset when used correctly. Did you know that human fingertips are the most sensitive skin areas in the animal world? They allow us to differentiate textures. So, to get the most out of our direct mail, we should add texture to quickly engage prospects and customers. There are several types of texture coatings that do more than just protect the print from scratching and damaging in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece by using the sense of touch. By creating a unique textured feel, you will boost engagement and your response rates.
Here are some fun texture coatings to consider:
- Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
- Sandpaper: Gives a rough feel.
- Soft touch: Creates a velvety texture.
- EtchCoat: Creates fine line patterns.
- Reticulating UV: Similar to an orange peel feel, and has many texture options.
- Thermochromic: Temperature-activated, changes color when heated.
- Photochromic: Coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
- StepTex: A raised UV similar to embossing but without the debossed back side.
- Scratch-off: Available in gold or silver, provides a non-see-through coat.
- Chalkboard: Creates a chalkboard surface where people can use standard chalk. It is available in black and clear.
Think of all the ways you can create a unique and fun direct mail piece using one or more of the coatings from this list. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books: You can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from.
It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to make the piece pop. Show your prospects and customers how your product or service feels. Tap into that sensory emotion to increase response.
The standard protective coatings are:
- Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink, and can be applied in gloss, dull, or satin forms as the piece is printed. It is not environmentally friendly.
- Aqueous: A water-based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
- UV: This provides superior protection, and comes in glossy or dull.
- Laminates: This is best for protection from water, as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces. Using one of these coatings to protect your postcard or self-mailer is a good idea when you are not using a texture coating. Make sure to check your mail service provider to see if they can inkjet over the protective coating.
Add a Bit of Pizzazz
Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it, and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient.
Let’s look at other embellishments besides coatings:
- Embossing: You can create a fun embossed look when a die presses into the paper like a stamp and slightly raises an image. You can do a single level which raises your image to one consistent height or depth or multi-level, creating a more complex emboss. Your result is a 3D effect.
- Foil Stamping: This fun one will add an elegant look to your direct mail piece. There are many color options, but the most common are gold and silver. This can be used on images, as well as text, so get creative.
- Metallic or Glitter: This will allow you to create direct mail with a sparkle. They come in many colors and are commonly used on mail pieces that advertise cars or trucks. The combination of bright colors and metallic flakes can make your mailer pop. You can use it all over or in specific spots to really draw attention to an image or text.
- Color Envelopes: The cheapest and easiest thing to do is to use color stock rather than white stock. There is a wide range of colors you can choose from like neon, pastels, and bold. Keep in mind that if you are inkjet addressing the envelopes and not using a window, you will need to pick a color that doesn’t interfere with the post office’s ability to read the address and barcode.
- Paper: You can choose from a wide variety of paper stocks. High-end linens are popular, but did you know you can use recycled stocks, pearlescent, and more? Depending on your branding and message you can find paper that will stand out and help deliver your message.
- Peek-a-Boo: You can use a peek-a-boo window to show off a coupon card or any other item of interest to your audience. This window is meant to build curiosity about what is inside.
- Scratch-Off: You can add a scratch-off area on mailers or envelopes for a giveaway or something you want them to work to see.
- Pull Tab: You can create a pull tab that will reveal a special message or graphic.
- Scratch-and-Sniff: This option adds scent to your mail piece. Of course, you need to tie the scent in with your brand and messaging. Scent alone can be confusing.
- Infinite Folds: These fun folds provide a message at each turn of the fold, and are usually folded through at least twice, as they drive curiosity.
- 3D: These can be really unique and drive interest, as they are not flat pieces of paper but all kinds of things in boxes or tubes.
- Pop-Ups: These mailers are fun and a little scary. They deliver flat, and when you open them they pop up into a form.
There are many other ways to create fun direct mail that engages the senses, so stop sending boring pieces and have fun. People want something that is not only a good offer, but new and interesting. If you are sending letters in envelopes have fun with the face of the envelope.
The idea is to grab attention so that your message has a longer chance to resonate. This will help you drive increased ROI. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on your prospects and customers.
Don’t Forget Special Inks
You might think all inks are created equal. But, there are plenty of options that can add a bit of spark, color, or flash to a direct mail piece.
Here are a few options:
- Conductive Inks: Inks with a circuit that can be used to activate an electronic device. Users press a “button” to activate lights, sound chips, or other electronic sensors and components.
- Leuco Dyes/Thermochromics: Heat-sensitive dyes or inks change color in variation in temperature. • Photochromic: Changes color with UV light exposure.
- Optically Variable Ink: Contains metallic materials that change appearance when viewed from different angles.
- Piezochromic: Change appearance under pressure.
- Hydrochromic: Change appearance when exposed to water or liquids.
Don’t Forget Envelopes
You want your creative envelope to drive an increase in your response rates, not just look pretty. You can always test a new envelope to half of your list to see if it helps you sell more before committing to a large run. Why send a boring white envelope when you can create something special? There are so many options it can make your head spin!
Even these mail piece design ideas will not get you an increase in results if your list, offer, or messaging are wrong. All these things work together to give direct mail a high response rate. So, send the right offer and message to the right person with a creative mail piece and you can expect a lift in your responses.
Are you ready to get started?
Summer Gould is Account Executive at Neyenesch Printers. Summer has spent her 31 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as the industry chair for San Diego Postal Customer Council. You can find her at Neyenesch’s website: neyenesch.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.