Direct Mail

Self Mailer: What is it, Types of Self Mailers, Examples and How to Send it

By 16 May 2024May 31st, 2024No Comments
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What Is A Self Mailer, and Why do You Need It For Effective Business Communication?

A self-mailer is a direct mail piece you can send to your recipients without an envelope. You can directly add the delivery address and postage on it. It has a single folded sheet with your message that you can seal using stickers or tabs. Many types of direct mailers exist, including postcards, booklets, catalogs, etc. You can also a folded self-mailer for cost-effective marketing.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-mailers let senders convey their messages directly to target recipients without them needing to open an envelope.
  • Folded self-mailers are very popular, but postcards, booklets, and catalogs also work well.
  • A self-mailer allows you to get more creative and save money. It is best for bulk mailing and you can automate the entire campaign.
  • You can send self-mailers yourself, but you must undergo many postal processes, like visiting the Post Office for address verification. It is better to automate everything to save time and money.
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Self-mailers are eye-catching and easy on the pocket. Thus, businesses use them for marketing, sending newsletters, and making announcements. Their slick design helps recipients easily open and read the message, making self-mailers among the best tools to capture your audience’s attention and deliver impactful information.

But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves now. First, let us explain what a self-mailer is and its different types. Besides that, we will also explain the many benefits of using a self-mailer for business communication.

What Is a Self-Mailer?

As you can guess from the name, a self-mailer is a direct mail that you can send by itself or does not require an envelope. The design of self-mailers is such that you can directly add the address and postage. And since there is no envelope necessary for them, it is cost-efficient for your direct marketing needs.

In most cases, we use a single piece of high-quality and durable paper or cardstock to make a self-mailer for direct marketing. Many of the self-mailers have folds forming panels. On top of that, adhesive tabs/glue spots keep the mailer tightly closed during transport. And as you can guess or know, there are various folding configurations you can use for self-mailers.

Types Of Self-Mailers

We can broadly classify direct mail into two different types or categories. The first category includes the usual sales letter that all of us are familiar with. The mailers are addressed and include marketing materials like brochures and catalogs. As you can imagine, in this type of direct mail, the letters are put inside an envelope, unlike self-mailers.

The next category or type of direct mail is the self-mailer and the article's central focus. When it comes to direct mail marketing, business organizations use different types of self-mailers depending on their goals.

Think of types of self-mailers like types of pokemon. Electric-type pokemon are effective against water-type pokemon but not against earth-type. Similarly, some self-mailer, like marketing postcards, are efficient in some situations and ineffective in others.

If we were to classify self-mailers broadly, they would fall into one of the following categories.

  • Postcard 
  • Booklet
  • Folded sheet of paper/cardstock with sealed edge
  • Catalog

Self-Mailer Postcard

One of the best and most effective formats you can use for direct mail marketing is the self-mailer postcard. It is so effective and cost-efficient that there is a dedicated stream for postcard marketing. If a marketing postcard were a pokemon, it would be like Mew (a small but powerful pokemon). Despite its limited size, it is tremendously powerful as a marketing medium.

With a 4.25% response rate, self-mailer postcard offers immense potential for marketing your products or services. On top of this, 86% of people take their time to check their mail. On the other hand, it is only too easy to ignore a marketing text or email. As you can see, the numbers point toward why you should use postcards for your marketing efforts.

When Should You Use a Self-Mailer Postcard?

The self-mailer postcard is an excellent marketing tool. But as we said before, it is not always the ideal choice. The key is identifying situations where a postcard can impact the target audience the most. For instance, a postcard is a perfect choice if you want to thank a customer for a purchase or give them a discount coupon.

However, the small postcard may not be the best option if you want to give detailed benefits of a product/service. In other words, it would be like using an electric pokemon against a ground type – ineffective. On the other hand, it is a super effective self-mailer if you use it right.

Take real estate postcards, for example. There are numerous reasons for using postcards for real estate marketing. The self-mailer postcard can house beautiful pictures of listed properties and convey a short marketing message to the reader. However, real estate is not the only industry that can benefit from postcard marketing.

Every industry vertical, from eCommerce to healthcare, uses a self-mailer postcard for its marketing needs. However, the rule of thumb you can use whenever implementing postcard marketing is to ensure a short marketing message. If your marketing approach involves lengthy explanations, infographics, etc., then it is best not to go for postcards.

Self-Mailer Booklet

Compared to a self-mailer postcard, booklets are much more sophisticated. Postcards are single pieces of paper, and it doesn't even have folds on them. And despite its name, a marketing booklet is much smaller than a book in size and volume. A booklet usually has four to forty pages, meaning it can house a significant amount of information.

You can use different types of self-mailer booklets for your business's marketing and communication efforts. One kind of booklet doesn't need to be better than the other. What matters more is how you use it. If we had to liken the marketing booklet to a pokemon, it would probably be an Eevee – a pokemon that evolves depending on a stone you give it.

Like Eevee, your self-mailer booklet can also evolve into something depending on how you use it. Below we list the different marketing booklet types (or evolutions) you can use for your business.


A newsletter is a common type of self-mailer we are all familiar with because we often receive them in the mail. The best thing about newsletters is that it has a high open rate. Even email newsletters have a 22%  open rate according to industry standards. More importantly, it is a great way to keep your audience updated on your brand's latest news, products, etc. Hence, it plays a significant role in strengthening your bond with the customers.

Instruction Manual

Booklets are also an excellent choice for an instruction or owner's manual. It can house all the essential information the customer needs about assembling or dismantling a product. In addition, the self-mailer can also include safety instructions, warranties, and guarantees for your product.

Brochure Booklet 

Some products or services are so complex and intricate that a single piece of paper can't hold all the information you want. In such cases, a self-mailer like a brochure booklet could be the perfect solution for you. It typically contains product information, including descriptions and pictures of the product.

Reference Guide

Another type of self-mailer printing you can consider for your business is a reference guide. Essentially, it is the same as the instruction manual but in a much shorter form. Due to it being so significantly short, it only contains the most critical information, such as the dos and don'ts.

Other Classifications For Booklets

Their binding makes marketing booklets different from the other self-mailers on a physical level. Believe it or not, there are different types of binding for marketing booklets, and many organizations categorize their marketing booklets using their binding. Some popular binding options for your booklet mailer include the following.

  • Saddle Stitched
  • Coil/Spiral Binding
  • Perfect Binding

Similarly, you can also categorize mailers depending on their size. Typically, the size of self-mailer booklets can range from 5.5 x 8.5 to 12 x 12. However, you can always get a little more creative and opt for a custom-size marketing booklet for your business.

When Should You Use Self-Mailer Booklets?

Marketers love using booklets for their campaigns because they offer a variety of applications. Application diversity is one of the primary advantages of self-mailer marketing booklets. For instance, marketing booklets are perfect for order-generation promotions. It is beneficial when you need a lot of space for your message with a tight budget.

Besides this, you can also use self-mailer booklets to promote conferences, seminars, and other such events. Using the booklet format gives you more space to highlight the main attractions of such events. Also, you can use the same area for a grand sales presentation which is often an order generation requirement.

Self-Mailer Catalog 

Just like postcards, catalogs are also a prevalent direct mail marketing medium. And like postcards, catalogs also have a specialized direct marketing branch. Catalog marketing focuses on interactive and personalized communication with the customer. And it is possible that most at-home shopping takes place via self-mailer catalogs.

Employing a self-mailer catalog allows you to offer or present your prospects with an extensive range of products. People who are passionate about product catalogs consider them nothing short of art. For such people, the space in a product catalog is worth no matter how big or small. And the art part is in utilizing every inch of that space to arrange the products, capture reader attention, and make sales.

Although it is more prevalent in the B2B circle, there is a growing trend for it among retailers. With compiled customer database, retailers can significantly improve their mail-order sales via self-mailer catalogs. If you think that's not impressive enough, consider this – between 2004 and 2018 response rate from product catalogs increased by 170%

Hence, it is no longer a question of whether you want to use catalog marketing but of when you want to use it. Because eventually, you would have to turn to self-mailer catalogs or digital catalogs for effective marketing.

When Should You Use Self-Mailer Catalogs?

The real-life use of self-mailer catalogs and newsletters discussed above are pretty much the same. You can use the product or service catalog for presenting new products and how they can benefit the prospects. Of course, a newsletter doesn't directly sell the product to prospective customers, which the catalog does.

Employing self-mailer catalogs for your business organization is perfect if you want to grow its customer base. When sending a product catalog to your target audience, there is always a way for the receiver to respond. Before, it used to be phone calls, but now you can add a modern twist using methods like QR codes. It allows the prospect to view your website and buy products directly.

Folded Self-Mailers

A folded self-mailer is a sheet of paper or cardstock which is folded and has a sealed edge. It is one of the most common self-mailers you see daily. You can group or categorize folded self-mailers depending on the number of folds they have. Below are some of the standard folded self-mailers used for marketing.

Tri-Fold Self-Mailer

The tri-fold self-mailer typically measures around 6″ x 11″ before you open it up. It is the ideal size if you want to send coupons to your target audience using a perforated inline. And you can imagine the extra space for your marketing message once you open the mailer.

4-Panel Self-Mailer

The 4-Panel Self-Mailer is perfect for you if you are looking for a smaller-sized direct mail option. Ideally, you should have one primary message supported by some beautiful pictures and graphics for this mailer. Furthermore, this format works equally well with horizontal and vertical alignment.

6-Panel Self-Mailer

The 6-Panel Self-Mailer is usually preferable for newsletters or other longer messages. It provides you with so much space for your marketing message that you can keep on going forever. Of course, the customer is rarely interested in reading lengthy content, so accurate targeting is essential for this mailer.

When Should You Use a Folded Self-Mailer?

The best reason to use a folded self-mailer is when you want to convey significantly more information without increasing the mailer size. It allows you to provide more information to the prospect. You can keep on growing the data with the number of folds.

However, do not enter too much information in your mailer, as it can negatively impact you. But, if you feel that the customer would like to know more about the product or if particle information is necessary, you may include it. With folded self-mailers, you have the flexibility to use more or less information in your marketing message.

Also Read: 7 Direct Mail Types For Your Marketing Campaign

What Are The Benefits Of Using Self-Mailer?

With a diverse communication channel like a self-mailer, you get numerous benefits. Here are some significant advantages of employing self-mailers for your business.

Freedom To Get More Creative

Since the self-mailer does not have an envelope, you must make it look attractive and eye-catchy. It means you have the creative freedom to play around with your mailers. And this applies not just to the colors but the font and images. You can even use cute pictures of pokemon, as long as the message is relevant and in line with the branding.

Mo' Money

One reason marketers and business owners love self-mailers for their business is that it is significantly cheap. Just eliminating the need for envelopes saves you significant money, especially for bulk mail. And it's not just the envelopes either.

There is no labor necessary to put the mailer inside the envelope. You can further optimize the expenses using automation.

Ideal For Mass Marketing

There are few marketing channels better than the self-mailer when it comes to mass marketing. It causes an almost immediate visual impact on the recipient and delivers a concise message directly to your audience. Furthermore, they tend to have an even greeted impact on existing customers and boost customer loyalty.

Automation Capability

One of the significant benefits of using a self-mailer or direct mail that not many people talk about is the automation capability. Advanced direct mail automation tools like PostGrid let you fully automate your direct mail operations. It includes everything from personalizing self-mailers to delivering them. Automation ensures the optimal use of your raw materials and resources, including time.

Also Read: Best Direct Mail Marketing Companies 

How To Send a Self-Mailer For Your Business?

There are primarily two ways for sending your self-mailers in bulk. You may mail it yourself or choose a direct mail automation service like PostGrid. The more convenient and cost-effective option is to use an automated direct mail tool, which saves you a lot of time and effort.

How To Send Self-Mailer By Yourself?

Mailing the self-mailer by yourself can be a little tricky. You will need to pre-sort the mail to get bulk mail discounts. For sending the business self-mailers yourself, you need to decide the payment method. You can choose between permit imprints, postage meters, and precanceled stamps.

That's not all. For bulk mailing your self-mailer, you must obtain a permit from the USPS. It involves submitting a completed Form 3615, identifying documents, and making the required payments.

You then need to take the necessary documents to the USPS, which includes the following:

  • Postage statement
  • Supporting documents
  • Payment for additional postage (if any)
  • Annual mailing fee check

Once you hand over all these documents along with the self-mailers, USPS will first inspect the mailers and accept them.

How To Send Self-Mailer With Automation?

Sending your self-mailers using an automated solution like PostGrid is significantly easier than doing it yourself. You can sign up on PostGrid's web interface and send your self-mailers in bulk. Once you sign in, you can access the dashboard from where you can easily find the option to send your mailers, including enveloped letters and postcards.

PostGrid allows you to choose a template and upload the mail recipients using a CS file. You can integrate PostGrid's REST API with your CRM solution for a more personalized approach. You can even select the mail class for your mailers in PostGrid's web interface and make the necessary payments without fail. And that's it, and you are all set to go!

Convenience in sending self-mailers and letters is the primary reason our clients always use our automated system for bulk mailing. Of course, we often have to help the clients see the monetary benefits of using a computerized system over manual mailing. Here is an excerpt from a conversation our CEO had with a client.

“Sure, at first glance, using an automated system may seem like an additional investment. But, our direct mail automation system saves you money in terms of resources, including time. And like they say, if there is one thing you can't buy, that's time. More importantly, we can create tailor-made solutions that can fit your specific needs and budget.”


A self-mailer can be an ideal choice when it comes to postal communication for businesses. It is easy to create and facilitates cost-efficient business communication. However, to tap into the full potential of postal communication, you need to utilize advanced automation.

Direct mail automation tools like PostGrid can help you streamline your self-mailer communication. It allows you to personalize and mail your letters, postcards, brochures, and more with the click of a button.

Furthermore, it saves you valuable time while still giving you the advantage of bulk mail discounts from USPS. Hence, every business organization must consider investing in an advanced direct mail automation system like PostGrid.

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