An Introduction to Direct Mail Sizes
Direct mail is always an excellent marketing strategy if done correctly. Postcards, letters, catalogs, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets are all direct mail collaterals and are sent for marketing purposes. Usually, postcards and letters are good items to be sent to your loved ones – maybe on occasions or randomly to show some care. In this case, we do not pay much attention to its size. However, when these items are sent by direct mail companies, it is more than necessary to determine the size carefully.
Direct mail sizes begin to matter when companies are planning a direct mail campaign and want to control the budget. It may seem that there is one standard size used for direct mail. But, there are several variations, and each one of them has its own benefits and limitations.
The USPS has some strict direct mail size guidelines. They have clearly labeled the different sizes they entertain for different types of direct mail. Even after stringent labeling, new marketers struggle to understand these guidelines and the best ways to determine direct mail specifications. You are required to know about the various direct mail piece sizes, designs, and postage rates. The USPS has several rules regarding spacing, font, ZIP codes, addressing, and the keep-clear zone.
Sounds difficult to accomplish? Don’t worry. PostGrid offers a direct mail platform that can handle all these things altogether. Direct mail campaigns require some planning in terms of the campaign size, collateral, mailing lists, and overall objectives. Once these things are decided, it is now time to determine the perfect size that fits in with these things. Companies are needed to follow the USPS guidelines and keep their direct mail pieces “machinable.” These pieces are always within the prescribed size, weight, shape and are eligible for discounted and presort prices. The size directly affects the costs of the campaign. Hence, make sure to select the right size according to your message and the availability of the budget.
Direct Mail Postcard Dimensions
Postcards are the first collateral that comes to mind when marketers consider conducting a direct mail marketing campaign. They are the cheapest option and do the job effectively. Well-crafted postcards with a strong CTA and eye-catching graphics make excellent collateral and have the potential to attract valuable engagements. They don’t require envelopes – which cuts down the costs and seeks more attention than the enveloped letters. First-class mail postcards offer great value to marketers and are much cheaper than sending letters. Various benefits like mail forwarding and returning, priority processing, and fast delivery are associated with first-class mail postcards. You just need to know the direct mail postcard dimensions accepted by the USPS to be sent through first class. All postcards that go beyond these dimensions are sent through the USPS marketing mail and do not receive the benefits mentioned above.
There are many direct mail dimensions and oversized postcard sizes that can be used for direct mail marketing. Some of the common direct mail postcard dimensions include:
- 4” x 6”
- 4.25” x 5.5”
- 4.25” x 6”
- 4” x 9’’
- 5” x 7”
- 5.5” x 8.5”
- 6” x 8”
- 6” x 9”
- 6” x 11”
- 9” x 12”
If you are wondering which of these sizes are mailable, the answer is all of them. The USPS will mail any size that you want to send. However, they are likely to charge accordingly. Oversized postcard sizes can be significantly expensive. Now let’s have a look at the USPS guidelines stating the direct mail postcard sizes.
- The postcards should be at least 3.5” x 5” (width x height).
- They should not exceed the dimensions of 4.25” x 6”.
- The thickness of the postcards should be between 0.007” and 0.016”.
- Anything exceeding these direct mail specifications is not eligible for first-class postage rates. Moreover, larger postcards that cross these dimensions are considered as “letters” by them.
- The USPS also states that the postcards need to be rectangular only. No other shapes are acceptable under the postcards category. However, you can design your postcards in vertical, horizontal, or both layouts. Both portrait and landscape postcard designs can be used as they don’t affect the postcard sizes.
- Half-fold and tri-fold postcards are acceptable, as long as they are not too thick to remain within the dimensions.
Let us also discuss the other sizes that do not come under the USPS first class mail option, but are worth knowing about. Most popularly, postcards are of four key direct mail sizes. They are:
4.25” x 6”
These postcards are referred to as “small postcards” and are typically the ones that the USPS accepts and processes for first-class mail. Small postcards are compact and simple. They have straight-to-the-point layouts clearly highlighting a message, CTA, some small images, and an offer. Usually, small-sized postcards are used for messages that can be communicated in a smaller space. It perfectly fits the first-class mail option – which helps you get your mail delivered faster and at very economical rates. Though this is a cost-effective option, these postcards might not always stand out. Many marketers use this size, so if you are using it too – make sure that your postcards are eye-catching.
6” x 9”
Businesses commonly use this size as they offer versatility, flexibility, and great scope to get creative. It is bigger than the usual postcard size and hence has more chances of higher visibility. They can be sent as letters as the USPS does not consider these direct mail postcard sizes as postcards.
6” x 11”
These jumbo postcards offer the same versatility as the above size but with larger dimensions. This size is suitable for vertical designs, similar to a poster. The 6” x 11” sized postcards are a great marketing tool as it portrays your information in the most creative manner. They have enough space to fit in a lot of graphics, bigger fonts, and an attention-seeking CTA. You can even include a QR code to it, offering a discount to the recipients.
9” x 12”
Oversized postcard sizes as such have the highest chances to stand out from other direct mail items. The USPS considers this size as “flats,” we will discuss it later. The rates to print and mail these oversized or extra large postcards are quite high, but it has its own benefits. If you have the required budget and your message demands a large space, go for this size. It can help attract more responses and increase your ROI.
Direct Mail Letter Dimensions
The USPS definition of letters is much broader than your normal letters. For them, letters could be enveloped or nonenveloped. There is no necessity to spend on envelopes if you need to send letters in direct mail. Furthermore, you can also use tabbing, folds, and die-cuts while staying under the “letters” category. For marketing of products and services that require a high level of personalization and lots of information – letters are the most appropriate direct mail type. The USPS has led down some direct mail dimensions for mailing letters.
- The letters must be rectangular with square corners. Anything with curved corners will not be accepted as letters.
- The sides of the letters must be parallel to each other.
- All letters must be at least 3.5” x 5” in size.
- The maximum width and height allowed are 6.125” x 11.5”.
- The thickness should range between 0.007” and 0.25”. You can use an index card to check the thickness of your letters.
If your letters do not fall under these direct mail specifications, they will be classified as “nonmachinable” and will cost you more. In the case of enveloped letters, the USPS measures the envelope itself. If you use the standard no. 10 letter envelope, your mail piece will automatically fall under the category of letters. You can definitely use your own designed envelopes or use folds to make it letter-sized, but you will still need to stick with the direct mail size guidelines. Taking care of the thickness and specifications can help you avoid paying extra postage for insignificant size differences. The USPS can charge you more even if your letters do not meet the direct mail dimensions by even half an inch.
Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Dimensions
EDDM stands for Every Door Direct Mail and is a mailing program launched by the USPS. The main purpose of launching this program was to allow businesses to advertise their products and services through direct mail using an affordable way. EDDM is also known to be very convenient for small and medium-sized businesses – who do not have mailing lists or a big marketing budget. You can use your own designs according to the USPS guidelines and direct mail postcard dimensions. Along with postcards, you can also use EDDM for sending other marketing collateral. The USPS gives you the option to use the design, print, and drop-off services of its affiliates – in case you don’t want to get it done on your own. EDDM is an ideal option for targeting certain localities or ZIP codes.
There are some common EDDM dimensions approved by the USPS, which are:
- 4.25” x 11”
- 6.25” x 9”
- 6.25” x 11”
- 6” x 12”
- 8.5” x 7”
- 8.5” x 11”
- 11’’ x 17’’
You can pick collateral and then choose the direct mail specifications accordingly. Oversized postcard sizes are also available to be sent under the EDDM option. The size specifications are not the only requirements of the USPS. Your direct mail must also meet the design requirements. There are certain places on your direct mail items where you need to place the address, your logo, a stamp, and other things. Make sure these things are known to your designer, and your direct mail designs follow the USPS design requirements. PostGrid’s direct mail platform can help you send direct mail under EDDM or otherwise. You can use our in-built templates to follow the requirements. Our templates indicate trim lines, borders, safe zones, keep-clear zones, and bleeds.
Although EDDM is the most affordable option to conduct a direct mail campaign, there are a lot of drawbacks. You need to open a USPS account and send between 200 to 5,000 direct mail pieces every day to addresses in the ZIP code you are targeting. Additionally, you need to drop off the collaterals at the USPS office yourself, unless you want to pay extra and use their drop-off services. There are not too many customization options while conducting an EDDM campaign. You are tied to a single mailing route.
EDDM lacks the flexibility that is needed by marketers to conduct a highly personalized, creative, and effective direct mail campaign. PostGrid allows you to be flexible with your oversized postcard sizes and direct mail size guidelines.
Flats and Large Sized Direct Mail
According to the USPS, the “flats” category includes magazines, newsletters, and large-sized envelopes. Similar to other direct mail pieces, there are certain direct mail piece sizes required for sending flats.
- The minimum and maximum width of flats should be 6.125″ and 12″, respectively.
- The minimum and maximum length of flats should be 11.5″ and 15″, respectively.
- The minimum thickness required is 0.25,” and it should be no thicker than 0.75″.
Large-sized direct mail like catalogs are very inducing and can fetch excellent results. Obviously, the marketing budget required to print and mail flats and large-sized direct mail is much more than that of postcard marketing. But, it is truly worth it to try out oversized postcard sizes that stand out. As per a DMA report (Direct Marketing Association), 42% of people read the catalogs they receive in the mail. 25% of people at least flip through them or keep them for reading later.
Marketing teams should definitely try sending out flats as direct mail – as they have their own advantages and ways to attract responses. If you feel they are expensive to print and mail, send them out to a targeted mailing list and see the results. Flats have plenty of room to fit in all the content that you want to add. Moreover, you can always put more than one collateral in the large-sized envelopes. Many marketers send a personalized postcard with their catalogs, or a flyer and a letter combined. Be careful about the weight of your direct mail, as it matters while determining your postage costs. The heavier your mail, the higher will be its postage, especially in the first-class mail option.
Factors Determining the Right Direct Mail Sizes
It is essential for marketers to know about the various direct mail size guidelines, dimensions, designs, postage rates, and the pros and cons of various sizes. Being well aware of these things, companies can manage their budget properly and boost their marketing efforts. Every size and kind of direct mail is created to meet a certain marketing objective. So, it is also important that you define your motives clearly prior to choosing the type of collateral and its size. There are many aspects that you can define, for helping you select the perfect size for your campaign.
1. Marketing Budget
Finding the right size that suits your marketing budget is challenging. There are many options available for you – so that you can select the size of your choice and still stay under budget. The USPS has different requirements for different sizes. Firstly, you need to determine the direct mail cost that you are willing to put in. Next to it, calculate the estimated ROI in advance, which can enable you to increase or decrease your budget accordingly. If you have a very low marketing budget, it is best that you choose the 4.25″ x 6″ small-sized postcards or use the EDDM program. On the other hand, if you are willing to push your budget a little further, you should be able to print and mail bigger sized postcards, brochures, and other mail pieces with larger direct mail sizes. PostGrid’s direct mail automation platform can help you stay within the USPS guidelines and also to reduce postage by other ways like using pre-sorting, dropshipping, and other options.
The message of your direct mail is the next most important factor in deciding the size. You need to decide what message you want to add to your direct mail. A good marketing copy can really help boost responses and convince people to purchase from your brand. The message should be easy-flowing, inducing, and attention-holding. Use an eye-catching font and size. Consider the type of direct mail you have selected – whether it is a postcard, a flyer, or a catalog. Postcards are meant for smaller messages, whereas you can include your complete product guide in a catalog. Once you have decided on the content – its length should be able to tell you the size that will be suitable to fit in that message, without your direct mail looking messy or too empty. Basically, your message should dictate the size of your direct mail.
The time within which you need your campaign to be completed can be another promising factor to help you decide the size. As discussed earlier, postcards that come under the USPS direct mail postcard dimensions qualify for first-class mail – which means that the delivery will be done on a priority basis. If you are sending holiday-themed direct mail or have used direct mail as part of a bigger multi-channel marketing campaign – you need to take care of the delivery timeframe. Hence, choose a size that can be mailed faster.
There are many direct mail postcard sizes that are rarely used by marketers. You can select one of those sizes. If you want to stand out from the crowd and instantly grab the recipients’ attention, it is better that you opt for larger sizes. Large-sized envelopes may cost you more, but their uniqueness can help get an improved ROI that can eventually cover up for all your investments.
5. Offer and CTA
The offer you want to include, and the desired CTA also define the direct mail sizes to a great extent. If you want your customers to scan a QR code and get a discount on their purchase, the QR code and the terms of using it must be clearly visible. It should also be placed in such a spot that gets some attention. Again, you need to take care of the USPS design requirements. If your offers are well portrayed using a large space, you should select a big brochure or a 6″ x 9″ postcard. Moreover, if you want to emphasize the offer while also wanting to include many graphics and a lot of marketing text, you can select oversized postcard sizes like 9″ x 12″.
Advantages of Choosing the Right Size for Your Campaign
Why is it so important to select the right size for your campaign? What are the benefits of putting in so much planning to determine the direct mail sizes? Besides saving postal charges, there are many more benefits, which make it a must to select the perfect mailing size for your campaign.
1. Reduce Damage
Oftentimes, your postcards might have smudges and marks all over them by the time they reach the recipients. These marks make your direct mail unappealing and can affect the results of your campaign negatively. Moreover, it will be a complete waste of your marketing budget. In order to make your direct mail durable, meet the minimum thickness requirements. It should be noted that your mail pieces go through a number of automated scanners and sorters before the final delivery stage. For delicate direct mail items, you can use larger envelopes that can take care of its contents. Marketers need to prepare their direct mail for all processing, handling, and delivery stages. Choosing an appropriate size according to the type of collateral can help reduce mail damage.
2. Outperform Competitors
The USPS has specifications on almost every type of direct mail. A lot of marketers might use the required direct mail postcard sizes. Hence, you can select direct mail sizes that are less frequently used and still fall under your budget. For example, the 6″ x 9″ postcards and the 6″ x 11″ postcards fall under the same postal charges range. Analyze the advantages of all the sizes and try out unique sizes to outperform competitors. You can outperform your competitors by selecting an attention-grabbing size and creating a unique visual effect using the different direct mail piece sizes.
3. Provoke an Emotional Bond
Direct mail is the perfect way to reach out to someone personally and form a connection with them. However, certain formats and sizes are more impactful than others and help you create an emotional bond with the audience. Choosing the perfect size can really help you get your message across strongly and get a high response ratio. For example, catalogs are really convincing direct mail items. They give the readers a chance to browse through their various products and services in a comfy and entertaining manner. A customer might just sit on their couch and enjoy watching your catalog, like a magazine. On the other hand, small postcards with beautiful background images can be stuck by people on their refrigerators or hung up on the wall. By selecting a proper size, you are leaving a long-lasting impression on your recipients. Take the time to carefully analyze the direct mail that specifically appeals to your audience and can influence their thought process.
4. Create an Effective Direct Mail Design
The direct mail size guidelines help you create an effective design. A small postcard cannot always have everything you want to include. The perfect size helps you create an attractive layout where you can effectively fit your message, the offer, and the CTA. Selecting the right size gives you the ability to design artwork that goes well with it. Designing gets very easy if you are aware of the size you want. The USPS defines the keep-clear area, the barcode spot, and the mailing address position. By knowing the size in advance, you can design the direct mail in accordance with these USPS requirements.
The Final Verdict
There is no one perfect size for your direct mail marketing campaign. It is recommended that you select at least 2 to 3 direct mail dimensions and spread them across a mailing list – so that you can test the results for all of those dimensions and see what works best for your brand. Without testing, it might be really difficult to say which size will give you higher results. For instance, if you have a mailing list of 15,000 addresses, split it up into three parts, and send out direct mail of three different sizes to every 5,000 addresses. Try and keep the design and messaging consistent so that it does not interfere with the results. This step will give you the best insights about the direct mail size that is right for your campaign. PostGrid’s direct mail platform can help you get detailed campaign insights and reports – that can help you determine the right size for your campaign. It can help you identify the best direct mail specifications for your brand’s marketing.
PostGrid offers a Postcard API, Print & Mail API, Direct Mail API, direct mail automation solution for businesses to print and mail their financial, marketing, transactional, and other offline communications.