What are Self-Mailers?

and How and When You Should Use Them

There are many types of mailers, and one format among them that’s been hitting our mailboxes for decades is the “self-mailer”. It’s tried and true for many reasons – primarily because it’s sans-envelope, but we’ll get more into that later. Read on to better understand what the self-mailer is as well as when (and why) it’s used.

The term “self-mailer” refers to any promotional mail piece that doesn’t require an envelope for delivery. These versatile marketing materials come in various formats, ranging from postcards to folded brochures, accommodating a diverse range of promotional content. The simplicity and convenience of self-mailers make them a popular choice for businesses aiming to effectively engage their audience. Whether it’s a postcard, bifold, trifold, brochure, catalog, booklet, or any other creative format, the self-mailer allows for direct communication with recipients without the need for additional packaging. This accessibility makes the self-mailer a cost-effective and efficient option for spreading information, capturing attention, and conveying messages to the target audience(s).

The self-mailer offers practical advantages that often makes it a sensible choice for marketing endeavors. Here are a few:


Possibly the most notable key benefit? Its immediate impact! Without the confines of an envelope, the self-mailer catches the eye right away, instantly delivering your message right out of the mailbox and increasing the likelihood of recipient engagement. Plus, the straightforward visibility of product offers adds to its effectiveness.


Creatively, self-mailers provide flexibility without unnecessary costs. Businesses can experiment with different formats and designs, ensuring a visually appealing presentation without straining budget. Their cost-effectiveness (especially postcards that mail at a reduced rate of $0.39 per piece) make them an economical option for businesses looking to optimize outreach without breaking the bank.

Automation-Friendly & Practical

The suitability of self-mailers for event-triggered and automated campaigns can simplify the marketing process and fit well into the customer journey. The incorporation of variable printing can allow for a personalized touch without added complexity. Lastly, self-mailers are especially practical for larger campaigns, as they eliminate the extra step of envelope insertion, streamlining the mailing process.

Choosing when to use or avoid self-mailers depends on various factors. As touched on above, self-mailers are an ideal choice when cost-effectiveness is a priority, as they’re cheaper than multiple pieces and envelopes. Their eye-catching nature makes them stand out, especially when they include interesting colors, unique designs, intriguing folds, great photography, and are made up of quality and/or unique paper. A well-crafted self-mailer with a compelling call-to-action (CTA) effectively encourages recipients to hang up the piece or remember it for later.  Lastly, you may want to consider using a varnish coating on the self-mailer to protect it from the rigors of USPS handling.

However, it’s important to exercise caution if your mailer includes private or proprietary information. Including this type of content on a very visible piece may lessen customer trust and credibility, as self-mailers are often perceived as more promotional and less personal. For established customers who prefer more personalized outreach, or pieces that include private customer information, the use of an envelope might be more appropriate.

Additionally, offices and facilities sometimes screen self-mailers and assume they’re merely sales pitches, so enveloped mail is more often the better choice when sending to those settings.

For a more in-depth look at the difference between postcards and letters, read our blog comparing the two.

Generally, the self-mailer is a cost-effective and attention-grabbing tool, and its versatility makes for an excellent addition to many marketing campaigns. Looking for help creating your next self-mailer, or hoping to bring in more direct mail ROI? Contact our team today.

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