Tips for Choosing Your Mail Format: Envelopes vs. Postcards

By Melissa Tristano

A recent report from a financial consultant predicted local advertising would rebound in 2021, with “direct mail having the lion’s share of local spend.” This seems perfectly logical as many continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because 98% of people check their mail on a daily basis.  

What are the best choices in format for your mailings this year? Let's look at the two most popular direct mail formats.

What Are the Most Popular Direct Mail Formats? 

On any given day, your mailbox could contain a combination of envelopes, postcards, catalogs, folded self-mailers and even a small parcel. Most often, you’ll likely receive envelopes and postcards, the most popular forms of direct mail. 

Envelope Mailings 

Envelope mailings may be referred to as solo inserted mailings, classic direct mail packages or envelope packages. By design, an envelope can be sealed and allows for contents such as letters, brochures, buckslips, product samples, freemiums and/or reply envelopes to be sealed inside.  

Postcard Mailings 

Mailers may refer to postcards as flats or simple self-mailers. They can cost less to produce (note: the USPS has specific size guidelines for a postcard — in order to qualify for a first class mail price, it must be 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick among other requirements) and send and are often a popular choice for marketing. As their “mini billboard” design allows for instant communication, postcards are commonly used for offer or notification messaging. 

How to Choose Your Direct Mail Format 

Envelope vs. Postcard Pros 

Envelopes are perceived as containing high-valued, confidential communication. Because they have a way to physically carry more information, envelopes can tell a more comprehensive story with the help of letters, brochures, buckslips and other inserts. 

Postcards are highly scannable, easy to read and offer “instant messaging” through the mail. They offer a way to immediately communicate and potentially connect with your audience. 

Which Format Is Best for Your Mailing? 

The best format for your mailing depends on its intent. If your messaging contains sensitive information or is complex enough that it requires the assistance of additional, inserted material, an envelope mailing is likely the right fit. If your messaging is brief and doesn’t require the confidentiality an envelope can provide, a postcard is likely the best choice for you.  

Download Our White Paper DMB mail formats

Download our “Choosing Your Format” white paper from our Direct Mail Basics series for more details and tips on formats for your next mailing. 

Contact Us 

The experts at Tension can further help advise on the best format for your mailing. Contact us today to start the conversation. 

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