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7 tips for creating a dazzling direct mail design

Commercial printing 7 tips for creating a dazzling direct mail design


by Dimitri Van Gaever

Getting your target audience to notice your direct mail, open it and respond well to it requires a dazzling graphic design. If you want to make sure your next direct mail design hits the mark and yields a great ROI, here are some pointers to consider.

7 tips for creating a dazzling direct mail design

1. It all starts with the envelope

The first thing your target audience gets to see of your direct mail, the envelope can really make or break your direct mail campaign. Don’t hesitate to think outside the (rectangular or square) box and opt for an oval, round, triangular, pentagonal, … shape. While you’re at it, consider including some involvement devices as well, like peel-off labels, repositionable parts, unusual windows or zip strips to intrigue and encourage recipients to have a peek inside.

Good to know

  • Direct mail pieces that deviate from standard dimensions tend to come with higher postage costs.

  • Being able to print entire webs without interruptions, Xeikon presses are ideal for printing envelopes that fold out to become extra wide-format self-mailers with unlimited length.

2. Use personalized text and images

Personalized text and images, perfectly tailored to the recipient’s demographic or customer profile, on the envelope as well as in the direct mail itself, are two of the most powerful tools you can use to boost your direct mail campaign’s ROI. Thanks to variable data printing technology (and provided you have enough data on your recipient’s needs, purchase history and preferences), you can customize each individual mail piece and establish the best emotional connection possible.

Learn more about the possibilities of direct mail personalization.

3. Easy on the background image

Feel tempted to use a background image? By all means, go for it! But mind the colors. And the legibility of your mail. Refrain from placing too much text over images, and make sure the background image doesn’t take center stage.

4. Stay modest

We know. You can’t not put your company name and logo on your direct mail, right? And sometimes you simply have to give a little extra information on who you are and what you stand for. Keep the logo as small as possible, though, and don’t allow your company information to overshadow your mail’s message or offer.

5. Only use high-resolution images

Nothing screams ‘cheap’ like pixelated artwork on a direct mail. No matter how good they may appear on-screen, you need to make sure your graphics have a large enough resolution if you want them to turn out looking great on paper as well. A printed flyer, for example, requires images which are at least 300 dpi.

Good to know

  • Xeikon presses are renowned for their 1200 dpi quality and high coverage.

6. Invest in desktop publishing software

While Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher are okay software solutions for creating the occasional flyer, they simply won’t do if you want to create a stunning direct mail design that inspires potential customers to convert. That’s where desktop publishing software like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop come in.

7.Send your direct mail design as a PDF

Before sending your file to your print vendor, make sure you’ve saved it as a PDF. It is the easiest format for printers to work with and allows you to include important elements like a bleed area and crop marks. Don’t forget to convert fonts to outlines as well to avoid fonts going MIA and being automatically replaced with a less attractive alternative.

Good to know: while errors are best captured and corrected before a job is sent to the print vendor,  the Xeikon X-800 workflow does come with extended preflight and prepress features just in case.