What are the Types of Direct Mail?

direct mail catalogs, postcards, letters, envelopes, self mailers, dimensional mailers types of direct mail


In a world where marketers are constantly searching for creative ways to repurpose digital content, there has been a resurgence of interest in direct mail marketing. Direct mail is on the rise. How often do you receive marketing emails? Weekly? Daily? Maybe even hourly? Business professionals and consumers are bombarded with emails every time they open their devices. How often do you receive a piece of mail? Certainly not hourly. In fact, every week, the average American receives over 600 emails and only 16.8 pieces of physical mail. This is only one of many statistics proving that direct mail is not dead. Reaching your audience is easier when you’re only competing against 16 other pieces of mail.

Now you know why you should incorporate direct mail marketing into your strategy, but how?

  1. Choose content to repurpose or create new content to support your goals.
  2. Identify your audience so you can create or purchase a targeted mailing list.
  3. Decide which type of direct mail is best for your content, goals, and target audience.
  4. Design your piece of mail to be engaging and informational.
  5. Print and send your direct mail – that’s when you contact us.

So which type of direct mail is best for your content, goals, and target audience? It depends. Introducing a fun new product to your current customer base might not require a full catalog. A postcard might be a better option. Learn about each type of direct mail below and see which type supports your marketing efforts.

The types of direct mail are:

  • Catalogs
  • Postcards
  • Letters and Envelopes
  • Self-Mailers
  • Dimensional Mailers


Catalogs are an effective and aesthetically pleasing piece of direct mail advertising. Use catalogs to feature vivid images, share accurate product/service information, and have plenty of space for promotions and special offers. Due to the high page count and size of catalogs, you can share a large spread of products and services. Reach consumers and businesses with accurate and detailed product catalogs. The United States Postal Service released an insightful generational report on Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. This tool can be beneficial in designing your direct mail, and building your targeting list, and gives us information about generational catalog engagement. According to USPS Delivers, Gen Z has the lowest catalog engagement. Millennials engage with 87% of catalogs. Gen X engages with 86% of catalogs. Boomers engage with 89% of catalogs.


One of the most popular types of direct mail is postcards. Choose postcards to communicate your short messages, promo codes, sales, or special events. Colorful postcards can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Concise messaging and simple postcard designs grab your audience’s attention quickly. Many marketers cannot allocate a large portion of their budget for physical mail or printed marketing in general. If your budget is tight, postcards are the option for you. A postcard can generate sales and build brand awareness with consumers in all stages of the marketing funnel. Postcards are a quick and easy way to reach anyone, which means your target audience segmentation is based solely on the purpose of your content.


Letters & Envelopes

When mailing sensitive or private information to clients, stakeholders, employees, or prospects, letters and envelopes are expected. Branded envelopes and letters generate leads, build brand recognition, and demonstrate professionalism. This type of direct mail format is traditionally used for text-heavy content such as newsletters. Another reason companies choose to send envelope mailers is to include extra pieces of collateral. Tear-off coupons, gift slips, and return envelopes are safely delivered in envelopes.


Even if you’re not familiar with the term ‘self-mailer’, odds are you’ve received one in your mailbox. A self-mailer is a type of direct mail format that doesn’t require an envelope. They’re like postcards since variable data (personalized mailing information) is printed on the mail, only bigger! You may have content created already such as a physical or digital brochure that you can turn into a self-mailer. With the ability to fold multiple panels, self-mailers provide you with more space to dive into details about your products, services, announcements, and offers. You have the space to share eye-catching visual elements without needing an envelope. That saves you money. When choosing a target audience, remember that self-mailers will leave an instant impression on readers. Whom are you trying to reach? What would grab their attention immediately? Self-mailers are highly engaging in consumer households and existing customer bases.

Dimensional Mailers

The most unique type of direct mail on the market is dimensional mailers. There are two general types of dimensional mail: 3D and pop-up mail. Pop-up mail is typically a direct mail piece that folds open or up revealing pop-up design elements. 3D mail can be a tube, box, sphere, or another three-dimensional shape. This type of mail is a non-traditional direct mail campaign strategy for creative marketers to wow their customers. Dimensional mailers can be very expensive so it’s important to create a very targeted direct mail advertising list. Use multiple touchpoints to tie your dimensional mailer to your ongoing marketing campaigns. 3D and pop-up mailers can share samples, gifts, QR codes, or information on products and services. This type of direct mail has very high response rates. If you’re looking to give your customers or prospects an interactive direct mail piece that can’t get lost in the mail pile, this will do the trick. Take 3D mailers a step further with a new hire, thank you, and holiday promotional products and  kits.

Print Eye-Catching Direct Mail. Partner with BR Printers.

Direct mail is not going anywhere. Stand out from your competitors by reaching customers in their homes and offices. Which type of direct mail is best for your next campaign? Share this with your team to see what aligns with your goals. Once you’re ready to print and send your direct mail, reach out to BR Printers.

BR’s Denver programming team provides marketing segmentation services on direct marketer customer files where sortable data, lead, and list management is present. All while design, direct mail printing, shipping, and bulk mailing are completed in-house and under one roof. Contact us today.