How Does Your Direct Mail Feel?

Credit: Getty Images by MirageC

The tactile nature of direct mail is a huge asset when used correctly. Did you know that “Human fingertips are probably the most sensitive skin areas in the animal world; they can feel the difference between a smooth surface and one with a pattern embedded just 13 nm deep. This is due to epidermal ridges on the surface of the fingertip, which allow humans to differentiate between a wide range of textures, materials, temperatures, and pressures.”

So, to get the most out of our direct mail we should add texture to quickly engage prospects and customers.

There are several types of texture coatings that do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece by using the sense of touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to increase engagement.

Some fun texture coatings for you to consider:

  • Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
  • Sandpaper: Gives a rough sandpaper like feel.
  • Soft touch: Creates a velvety texture for a nice soft feel.
  • EtchCoat: Creates fine line patterns.
  • Reticulating UV: This is similar to an orange peel feel and has many texture options.
  • Thermochronic: Temperature activated, changes color when heated.
  • Photochromic: This coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
  • StepTex: This is a raised UV similar to embossing but without the debossed back side.
  • Scratch off: Available in gold or silver provides a non-see-through coat
  • Chalkboard: Creates a chalkboard surface where people can use standard chalk. It is available in black and clear.

Think of all the ways you can create a unique and fun direct mail piece using one or more of the coatings from this list. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books; you can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from. It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to really get a pop. Show your prospects and customers how your product or service feels; grab that sensory emotion to increase response.

The standard protective coatings are:

  • Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink and can be applied in gloss, dull, or satin forms as the piece is printed. This is not environmentally friendly.
  • Aqueous: A water-based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
  • UV: This provides superior protection and comes in glossy or dull.
  • Laminates: This is best for protection from water as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces.

Using one of these coatings to protect your postcard or self-mailer is a good idea when you are not using a texture coating. Make sure to check your mail service provider to see if they can inkjet over the protective coating. You do have a couple of choices if the coating is not inkjet compatible. You can knockout the mail panel when coating to leave it unfinished for inkjet. Or you can use an envelope/poly bag as a cover. Just one more thing to consider is that a paper envelope can be inkjeted, but a poly bag will require labels. Make sure to consider all your options and costs before proceeding. You want to choose a design that is cost effective and drives an increase in response.

Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it, and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient. Are you ready to get started?