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When it comes to creating a successful direct mail campaign, selecting the right format is key to achieving a positive return on investment (ROI). While there are many formats to choose from, the most common and effective ones include postcards, letters, brochures, catalogs, magalogs, and dimensional mail. Each of these formats has its own advantages in terms of cost-effectiveness and creativity that can help you maximize your ROI.

In this article, we’ll break down each format and reveal the prime benefits they possess to help you increase your campaign’s ROI.


Postcards are ideal for short messages or announcements that require immediate attention. Postcards can be sent quickly through postal services which makes them significantly more affordable than other types of direct mail while also allowing you to capture customer’s attention quickly with eye-catching designs. Additionally, postcards are likely to be seen by the customer since they are more visible than letters or brochures.

Postcards also allow you to write clear and concise messaging as you have limited space for copy, and you need to be efficient with your messaging. You only have a small space to get your message across and that can help you hone your message to produce an enticing headline, offer, and call-to-action (CTA).

Postcards also allow you to add personalization and segmentation strategies such as tailored offers or special discounts to a targeted demographic.

For example, if you’re a restaurant, you could send postcards to customers in a certain radius of your location with an offer for them to come and try out your new menu and use the card as a “coupon” for them to bring in for a free item or discount.


Letters are more personal than other types of direct mail as they typically include a personalized greeting or message from your company. They also allow you to provide detailed information about your product

Letters offer an opportunity for companies to express their messages more formally and clearly. They can also be customized with company-specific information that allows customers to feel more connected with your brand. Letters typically contain text but can also include images as well as call-to-action elements that will help you increase ROI.

Letters allow you to test and optimize variables like envelope design and content length. For example, you can test a two-page letter with a four-page letter or a #10 envelope with a 6″ x 9″ envelope.

Mailing letters can also allow you to test whether to include a copy on the envelope or leave it blank. There are a lot of variables to test with letters but take heed: You should only split test one creative vs. another (called true A/B split testing) as adding too many variables can dilute the response and give an inaccurate result.

Tip: If your letter includes an order card in the outer envelope, remember to include a return envelope so your customer can easily send in their order.


Brochures are ideal for companies looking to educate their customer base on products or services in an attractive manner. Because of the multiple-fold design, these formats allow for maximum utilization of space which makes them ideal for including call-to-action elements such as discounts and promotions. Additionally, brochures can be designed to match your company or product branding, offering a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Another benefit to brochures is that it allows you similar design elements to a postcard but with increased space for some more copy.

Tip: Stick to a standard brochure size. We recommend a legal size (8 ½” x 14″) formatted for landscape and tri-folded (two equal folds that result in three equal panels). This allows you to print three panels on the outside of the brochure and the option to have one large layout on the inside of the brochure.


Catalogs provide an opportunity to showcase multiple products at once and are especially helpful for customers looking for specific items. By including detailed descriptions of each product, you can help customers make informed decisions about their purchases. Additionally, catalogs provide companies with the chance to highlight promotions and discounts that will encourage customers to purchase more often.

You can add as many products as you want to your catalogs but remember, the higher the page count, the more it could cost you in postage and print.


Magalogs combine the features of magazines and catalogs and are ideal when showcasing products in various lifestyle settings. These formats work especially well for health products or other brands that benefit from creating an emotional connection with their target audience by providing more subtle marketing messages through lifestyle images.

Ideally, a magalog would be four colours and either 16, 20, or 24 pages with a CTA (either a phone number or a removable order card) included. As with letters, you will want to include a return envelope (usually stitched into the magalog) so your customers can easily send in their orders.

Dimensional Mail

Dimensional mail refers to packages that include an item such as a t-shirt, tote bag, keychain, or other “premium”. This type of format is especially useful for creating a lasting impression with customers since they are more likely to remember receiving something tangible from your brand. Additionally, these items can be customized with branding and logos which can help increase the customer’s loyalty and recognition of your company.

No matter which format you choose for your next direct mail campaign, it’s important to consider how each one will impact the ROI of your efforts. By selecting the right format that resonates with your target audience, you can maximize return on investment while also increasing visibility and engagement with customers.

If you’re looking for help with creating the perfect direct mail format to maximize your ROI, contact North American Media today. Our experienced team of direct mail professionals can provide you with the tools and guidance necessary to create a successful campaign that will increase your brand recognition and customer loyalty.

Don’t wait any longer—contact us today to get started on an effective direct mail campaign!