Creating direct mail without studying other people’s successful direct mail is like trying to do brain surgery without studying brains.”

– Axel Andersson, direct marketing entrepreneur

Fortunately, to guide your marketing strategy, direct mail design, and copywriting, Who’s Mailing What! includes thousands of direct mail examples for your inspiration.

We’ve curated 55 examples, nearly all from 2020, that provide a starting point on time-proven ways to profitably help customers with your direct mail.

1. Benefits, Not Features

Hello Fresh, a start-up meal kit provider, has used direct mail extensively as part of its marketing plan. In this February 2020 effort, on one panel of a self-mailer, icons and short copy work together to describe 3 big benefits of the service.

hello fresh direct mail example

2. Big Images

This large image on the front of an August 2020 self-mailer easily illustrates United Healthcare’s Virtual Visits.

virtual visits direct mail example

3. Product Sample as Involvement Device

Function of Beauty offers customizable hair care products. Scent strips are a few out of many possible options drive that point home on this February 2020 self-mailer.

function of beauty direct mail example

4. Checklist as Involvement Device

PNC Investments gets prospects to think about their retirement plans — and look to the company for help — with a 5-point checklist postcard that was mailed in March 2020.

pnc investments direct mail example

5. Quiz as Involvement Device

This quiz on the front of the outer envelope intrigues the audience in this acquisition effort for the Harvard Heart Letter newsletter, a Grand Control.

Harvard Heart Letter newsletter direct mail example

6. Headline with a Question

A headline that asks a question is more powerful than one used in the middle of a paragraph because it immediately attracts the reader’s attention, as in this July 2020 mailer from Relax the Back, a bed retailer. It also sets the stage for the rest of the pitch.

Relax the Back direct mail example

7. Web Expertise

Customers today expect that companies are accessible in many ways on the web. Retailer Wine.com’s postcard from April 2020 highlights its apps as well as online advice.

Wine.com direct mail example

8. Familiar Branding

Some companies leverage their branding images from TV and other media to stand out in the mail, as GEICO and other insurers frequently do. This example is from February 2020.

GEICO direct mail example

9. Welcome

Mail can welcome a new customer to the fold and provide valuable paper backup. Asurion, a device insurance and warranty provider, mailed this letter to a Verizon Wireless customer in January 2020.

Asurion direct mail example

10. Testimonials

Whether you’re a business or a non-profit, look for ways to show your impact on the lives of individuals. This Florida Gulf Coast University appeal from February 2020 notes how donations helped these students.

Florida Gulf Coast University direct mail example

11. Free

There’s probably no word that works better than “Free”. Here, Estee Lauder offers a customer a selection from its cosmetics available at Macy’s in this March 2020 self-mailer.

Estee Lauder direct mail example

12. Emotion

In any category, tap into one of the 7 main emotions to drive action with the copy and images you use. Here, RoadRunner Sports banks on exclusivity in this offer from May 2020.

RoadRunner Sports banks direct mail example

13. Magnets

There are lots of reasons to include a magnet in your direct mail, like providing information and building exposure. This eyecatching March 2020 postcard from the American Psychological Association uses a magnet to push a membership renewal.

American Psychological Association direct mail example

14. Handwriting

Handwriting fonts stand out against mail using standard type, as on this outer envelope for City Union Mission.

City Union Mission direct mail example

15. Referral

Also known as friend-get-a-friend or member-get-a-member, a referral leverages your relationship with a customer to make an offer to their friends. Energy provider Reliant mailed this postcard in July 2020.

Reliant direct mail example

16. Headline in Johnson Box

Headlines work best where they can be noticed, like in the Johnson Box area of this letter, mailed by BJ’s Wholesale Club in July 2020.

BJ’s Wholesale Club direct mail example

17. You

“You” is a powerful word to center your sales pitch on, as Famous Footwear does in this May 2020 mailing.

Famous Footwear direct mail example

18. Fascinations

Marketers like Consumer Reports tease prospects with “fascinations” — little snippets of information — to get them inside mailings like this one from June 2020.

Consumer Reports direct mail example

19. Content

Information can make a difference in the lives of consumers and businesses. Healthcare systems use content to educate patients, like in this June 2020 newsletter mailed by Orlando Health.

Orlando Health direct mail example

20. Special Offer

A popular keyphrase in direct mail, “special offer” was used by retailer Target in this January 2020 mailing to draw attention inside.

optical direct mail example

21. Personalized Maps

A customized map uses variable data printing (VDP) to display an exact map from the consumer’s door to yours, as in this example from Patient First, a chain of urgent care centers.

Patient First direct mail example

22. New Movers

Recent movers are prospects for many services and products that can help them settle in a new neighborhood. This May 2020 postcard from supermarket chain Safeway includes coupons and giveaways.

Safeway direct mail example

23. Augmented Reality App

Add virtual content on top of print with an app-enabled image. In this example from February 2020, which offers a customer upgraded service, telecom provider Spectrum includes a message that plays when the piece is scanned.

Spectrum direct mail example

24. QR Code

Loyal customers of Carnival cruise line can respond to a trip or credit card offer by scanning the QR code on an interior piece from this July 2020 campaign.

Carnival cruise line direct mail example

25. Icons

Using icons makes it easier for the customer to follow your call-to-action, like in this May 2020 mailing from Subaru.

Subaru direct mail example

26. Subhead

A good subhead follows up on the headline by explaining a benefit, like in this January 2020 AT&T mailing.

AT&T direct mail example

27. Free Shipping

“Free shipping” is a benefit that many shoppers now expect from retailers like Wayfair, in this March 2020 offer.

Wayfair direct mail example

28. Loyalty Rewards

Keep your loyal customers engaged with new offers. This March 2020 postcard from 1-800-PetMeds offers 30% off and free shipping on future orders, and is also personalized with the names of the customer and their pet.

1-800-PetMeds direct mail example

29. Rich Colors

Ink and paper can bring creativity to life. This tantalizing spread is from a self-mailer sent out by supermarket chain Meijer in August 2020.

Maijer direct mail example

30. Stories

When they’re authentic, stories can be powerful, and inspire people to donate money to a nonprofit cause, such as in this June 2020 appeal from Reservation Animal Rescue.

Reservation Animal Rescue direct mail example

31. Business Partnerships

DoorDash, a food delivery service, reaches out to restaurants to expand their business with this September 2020 postcard.

DoorDash direct mail example

32. Infographic

An insert with an infographic lays out the primary terms of a business loan in this American Express campaign from January 2020.

American Express direct mail example

33. Embossed Envelopes

This envelope, mailed by Capital One in February 2020, has embossed copy on a linen background to make it stand out.

Capital One direct mail example

34. Letter: Short Copy

What’s better, long or short copy? It depends, but GEICO has had a winner with this short letter for years.

GEICO direct mail example

35. Letter: Long Copy

On the other hand, your letter has a lot of points to make. That’s what subheads do, and as this April 2020 appeal from the National Audubon Society shows, images can help too.

National Audubon Society direct mail example

36. Co-ops for Start-Ups

Local and national brands use cooperative mailers to reach customers in various geographic segments. Share Media continues this trend by partnering with start-up companies to try direct mail, like in this August 2020 campaign.

Share Media direct mail example

37. Gift Cards

Smart marketers use gift cards to incentivize customers to respond to an offer, as Embrace Home Loans did in this December 2019 mailing.

Embrace Home Loans direct mail example

38. In-Person Customer Upgrade

In January 2020, Ace Hardware mailed an offer to upgrade a customer to its rewards program. It instructs them to bring the postcard to their local store, and use the coupon when their membership is activated.

Ace Hardware direct mail example

39. Cost Breakdown

Show your customers exactly what they get for doing business with you, and how much they can save, as in this March 2020 mailer from Spring-Green Lawn Care.

Spring-Green Lawn Care direct mail example

40. BIG Type

To stand out in the mailbox, increase your headline’s point size. Healthy Directions promotes its heart supplement on the envelope for its May 2020 promotion.

Healthy Directions direct mail example

41. P.S.

Readers of letters, many studies say, skip right down to the postscript after the signature. This P.S. restates the impact of a gift for Project HOPE’s COVID-19 appeal in June 2020.

Project HOPE direct mail example

42. Holiday

Malls and online retailers aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of a holiday shopping season. Broadband provider Wave made a Black Friday offer in November 2019 with this self-mailer.

Wave direct mail example

43. Newsletter

Even in an age of email, many nonprofits swear by the value of a print newsletter in keeping many members engaged … and donating. This North Shore Animal League newsletter was mailed in July 2020.

North Shore Animal League direct mail example

44. Postage Stamp

Feeding America, a national food bank network, mailed this fundraising effort with an off-center stamp on the outer in April 2020. In some cases, it’s a proven response-raising tactic.

Feeding America direct mail example

45. White Space

Negative or white space in design prioritizes the focus of the customer, as shown in this January 2020 from B2B mobile payment provider Square.

Square direct mail example

46. Punch Out Response

A plastic postcard with a punchout card keeps your offer and call-to-action in front of a prospect. This mailer was sent by Comcast in January 2020.

Comcast direct mail example

47. Coupon

One of the most iconic (and successful) coupons has been mailed by retailer Bed Bath & Beyond with few changes over the years.

Bed Bath & Beyond direct mail example

48. Happy Birthday

Segment your database and reach out to your customers on their special day with an offer. Gap dangles a 25% discount to its cardmembers in this February 2020 mailing.

Gap direct mail example

49. Call-to-Action

Your call-to-action (CTA) should be easy to find, like in this letter mailed in January 2020 by CItizens One to a personal loan prospect.

CItizens One direct mail example

50. Segmentation

Instead of generic creative, mailers like RingCentral segment and target their campaigns based on factors like type of business, as this offer did in July 2020.

RingCentral direct mail example

51. Social Values

Bombas, a B Corp. sock brand, demonstrates social responsibility on this self-mailer from December 2019.

Bombas direct mail example

52. Discounts

Mail flyers give you lots of room for creativity. Why offer one discount to get customers to shop when you can offer three, as Kohl’s does with this August 2020 mail piece.

Kohl's direct mail example

53. Safety

The threat of COVID-19 continues to spur direct mail activity. National Pen Corp.’s August 2020 promotion for facemasks with personalized labels included a free sample in the envelope.

National Pen Corp direct mail example

54. Green Printing

Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, lives its values starting with this notice about using recycled print materials on its outer envelopes.

Natural Resources Defense Council direct mail example

55. Membership Gift Offer

On its February 2020, Disney Movie Club teases a free gift for joining, then explains and shows much more on this insert.

Disney Movie Club direct mail example

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, looking at so many direct mail creative examples provided ideas that can help you drive successful direct mail. With Who’s Mailing What! you can consider possibilities that result in direct mail ideas that make your job easier and your customers’ lives better.

As your personal swipe file, Who’s Mailing What! highlights great examples of mail advertising because there is value in seeing what others have done successfully.

We’d love for you to share with us below some of your favorite examples of direct mail ideas that work, and we’ll add them to this article!

2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Tamara Wade
    Posted October 29, 2020 at 2:01 pm 0Likes

    #29 is Meijer. Your spelling is incorrect.

    Great article!

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