How To Design for Direct Mail


Creating designs for a successful direct mail campaign is more of a science than an art. Best practice for designing for direct mail suggests that your mailer should guide your recipient to the ultimate goal of returning to your website. That’s why we have given a crash course on how our designers at Paperplanes create materials using best practice for direct mail which includes utilising eye tracking technology that have an average conversion rate of 14.2% for Abandoned Basket Campaigns, 10% for Next Purchase Campaigns, and 7% for Winback campaigns (check out our post for a breakdown of all of the terms we use at Paperplanes).


  • Eye-catching headlines: Use bold and attention-grabbing headlines to draw the recipient’s eyes to the most important message right away. Keep the headline concise and relevant to pique their interest.
  • Clear hierarchy: Arrange the content in a logical order with a clear visual hierarchy. Important elements should be larger, bolder, or placed strategically to attract immediate attention.
  • Visual cues: Utilise arrows, images of people looking towards your main message, or other visual cues that naturally direct the reader’s gaze towards the key information.
  • Minimalist design: Avoid clutter and keep the design simple. White space can help guide the reader’s eyes smoothly through the content, preventing overwhelm.
  • Colour psychology: Employ colours strategically to evoke emotions and reinforce your message. Eye tracking studies have shown that certain colours can grab more attention than others.
  • Scanning patterns: Consider common eye scanning patterns, such as the “Z” pattern or the “F” pattern, and place essential information along these paths for better visibility.
  • Call-to-action placement: Place your call-to-action (CTA) in a prominent position that aligns with the reader’s natural eye movement, increasing the chances of conversion.
  • Typography legibility: Use easy-to-read fonts and ensure sufficient contrast between the text and the background to prevent eye strain.
  • Use of images: High-quality images can engage the reader and encourage them to spend more time with your direct mail piece. Eye tracking data can guide you on the best placement for visuals.
  • A/B testing: Conduct A/B testing with different designs and analyse eye tracking data to identify which design elements work best for your target audience.
  • Personalisation: Incorporate personalised elements in the direct mail, such as the recipient’s name or location, which can capture attention more effectively.
  • Incentives and offers: Highlight any special offers or incentives prominently to attract attention and encourage immediate action.


Remember, the goal of using eye tracking data is to create a design that guides the recipient’s attention towards the most critical elements of your direct mail. This will increase the chances of your message being noticed, read, and acted upon, ultimately leading to a more successful direct mail campaign.