Self-mailers can make a big impact, but creating them requires thoughtfulness in the design phase – and digging through the USPS guidelines isn’t easy. We sat down with Suzi Oswald, our postal specialist, to learn more about self-mailers and hear about the new Self-Mailer Essentials Guide SeaChange created.


What is a self-mailer?

A self-mailer is a folded sheet of paper that can be mailed on its own without an envelope. There are a variety of formats, such as bi-folds, tri-folds, and quarter-folds, and to qualify for letter-size rates self-mailers must be no larger than 6″ x 10.5" and no smaller than 3.5" x 6". Self-mailers have the address printed directly on an exterior panel, and they must be tabbed or glued shut for maximum postage discounts.


What's the benefit of sending a self-mailer instead of something in an envelope?

With a self-mailer, the recipient can immediately see eye-catching text, colorful graphics, and creative design, which drives them to open it. A self-mailer can allow you to have a powerful marketing message accompanied by a call to action right on the outside whereas with an envelope you lose the opportunity to have that attention-getting moment.

Self-mailers can actually be less expensive to produce than an envelope with a brochure or packet inside, and with today’s supply chain issues slowing down envelope orders they can also be faster to produce.


Are there particular jobs where a self-mailer is recommended? And are there others where it doesn't work as well?

Self-mailers are great for promotional purposes, events, and marketing specific products or services. They are very effective when sent to an existing customer base or to those who are familiar with your brand or offerings. Self-mailers are also a great choice when you want to incorporate an additional component, such as a reply card or coupon, with easy-to-remove perforations.

A letter and envelope work best if you have vital information to communicate. An example of this would be a non-profit thanking its customers for their donations and listing the amount. Or if you have protected data, such as private health information, an envelope is required.


What are some of the most important things for designers to think about when creating a self-mailer?

Start by blocking out the areas for your return address, address block, and indicia on your mail piece before you begin your creative design. This ensures you have the required space for these items. 


Always make sure your mail piece meets the USPS requirements by following our  Self-Mailer Essentials Guide or working with one of our mailing experts at SeaChange. We are happy to help guide you and always willing to review an in-progress design.

Want to start a new self-mailer project? Let's talk.

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Article by Suzi Oswald, Postal Specialist

A self-proclaimed mail geek, Suzi Oswald loves everything about mail – and helping people use it. She has nearly 25 years of experience in the printing and direct mail industry and is always looking to learn more, make improvements, and apply the latest technologies. She’s a Mail Piece Design Professional (MDP), Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) and Certified Direct Mail Professional (CDMP) with the United States Postal System.