Mail is a great way to engage customers and prospects, and it’s one of the most trusted communication vehicles out there. However, some mail pieces garner more attention from recipients than others, due to a variety of factors, and no mailer wants to be in the position of having their communications ignored. Let’s take a look at some ideas to make your mail piece stand out and get noticed.

Use the Sense of Touch

Adding to the feel of a piece is a great way to get the recipient to read your mail piece. Choose a paper stock that has some texture to enhance your design. Try a linen or fiber stock to give your piece a textured feel. If you’re looking for something opaque, try a Glama Natural envelope to allow your inserts to show through and entice your audience. Loop or felt stocks are also an option.

Applying a coating to your mail piece is another way to use touch to your advantage. A textured or smooth dispersion varnish allows you to have a matte feel to portions of the mail piece while being able to put a high gloss coating on areas that you would like to highlight. The matte texture is ideal for clothing, buildings/landscaping, animals, or things people touch daily.

Aqueous Soft Touch can add a smooth rich feel to a mail piece. This coating can be used as a flood or as a spot coating. Try placing the soft touch on the cover of a multi-page booklet and leave the inside pages uncoated to create a cost-effective mailer.

Embossing or debossing your piece adds another way to engage the sense of touch. Combine it with foil stamping and your piece will stand out from the crowd. Embossing/debossing is commonly used on covers of books, high end self-mailers, brochures, annual reports, and pocket folders. This can be a little more expensive and add to the production timeline. Using foil stamping can add color as well as a smooth touch to the piece. Gold and silver are the most common colors used, but other colors are available.

Size Does Matter

Using a non-standard size envelope will get your mail piece to stick out in a stack of mail and draw attention to it. The most common size envelope used is a #10. By using a #14 envelope, which is 5” x 11.5”, you are still within the letter rate of postage but have an additional 7/8” in height and 2” in length, plus that much more real estate to print on. You are using the back of the envelope to print your offer or a message, right? I mentioned this in a previous article for MST ( If you are printing your envelope on a flat sheet and then converting, the additional costs are minimal.

When printing a card or brochure, again use a non-standard size. The maximum size of a card is 6.125” x 11.5” and a folded self-mailer is 6” x 10.5”.

If mailing to everyone in a specific area, try Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). For a mail piece to qualify for EDDM, one dimension must be larger than a letter size mail piece. I suggest 6.25” in height as that is 1/8” larger than the maximum size of a card but still allows the same number of pieces out of a press sheet (verify with your printer). EDDM postage rates are very competitive at $0.192 per piece for EDDM Retail and down to $0.18 per piece for DSCF rates when using a mail service provider.

Interactive Mail

Interactive mail pieces engage the recipient, drawing them in and giving you an additional opportunity to get your marketing message read. Making your mail piece actionable is easier than you may think. Here are some examples:

· Die cutting your mail piece can add dimension. Die cut an interesting shape that coincides with your offer. Die cut waves if you are marketing a resort at the beach, or the outline of an automobile if you are a dealership. Create a hole that allows the addressee to see a portion of your artwork inside of a self-mailer or brochure. Try using a Customized MarketMail piece (CMM) in a unique shape. The USPS does have some very specific rules to follow for Customized MarketMail.

· Repositionable notes are a great way to add action to a mail piece. The notes can be pre-printed with a static message or you can apply blank notes and inkjet a variable message. Place the name of the addressee along with a specific offer on the repositionable note and be sure to have a call to action someplace on the mail piece.

· Include QR Codes or Personalized URLs (PURLs) to take the addressee to your website to see a special offer specific to them. Be sure to have instructions stating to scan the QR Code.

Think Inside the Box

One option that is not utilized as much as it should be is mailing out a package. Design a mail piece that can be mailed as a lightweight parcel. By designing a box that contains your offer, a thumb drive, or small item that pertains to your event, there is a larger chance that it will be opened. People enjoy opening packages and seeing the contents. Use game pieces, plastic chips with your message, or a toy to get your message across.

Many of the items in this article will qualify for USPS 2021 Mailing Promotions. These include the Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement promo; the Emerging and Advanced Technology Promo; and, later this year, the Mobile Shopping promo. Here is a link to the USPS 2021 Mailing Promotions Calendar: to help get you started. Happy mailing!

Rob Hanks is an inside sales representative at Suttle-Straus and has more than 25 years of experience in direct mail. Rob is a Certified Direct Mail Professional and a Certified Mailpiece Design Professional though the United States Postal Service and serves as the Industry Co-Chairperson for the Greater Madison Area Postal Customer Council. Rob is also a member of the Postal Customer Council Advisory Committee. Rob enjoys the challenges of mail piece design within postal regulations and helping clients save on postage costs.

This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2021 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.