Use Creative Folds to Generate Interest in Your Printed Mailers

Did you know that roughly 42% of direct mail recipients read or scan the pieces they get? It’s a figure that trounces email marketing’s average open rates (~21%). The data doesn’t lie. A well-designed, professionally printed, purposeful piece is even more likely to get recipients to interact with direct mail. It can be as simple as getting a little creative with your mailer folds

Folding is one of the most important and underutilized steps in designing a successful piece of print collateral. A strategic fold might be all it takes to make a design element pop or encourage readers to peel back the page and see what’s inside. It’s important for marketers to understand the possibilities of papercraft and leverage them into a successful direct mail design.

Folding and scoring with purpose

Like any other element of a printed mailer, folding needs forethought as part of the design and conceptualization process. Printing a mailer and making indiscriminate folds won’t make it look better—instead, it could obscure your value proposition.

First, decide the purpose of your folds and how to build them into the design of the mailer. How can you use folds to boost appeal, draw intrigue or prompt a response?

  • Direct the recipient’s attention to key messaging
  • Tell a story or give instructions step-by-step, fold-by-fold
  • Create an element of surprise or a “big reveal”

A well-placed fold adds dynamic appeal to self-mailers. Instead of just front and back, there’s now the possibility for an interior. The sense of mystery and intrigue is enough to have anyone peeling back the fold just to see what’s behind it. And, if you reward them for their effort with a unique value proposition, you’ll find yourself with a mailer that’s highly effective in generating engagement.

Pick your fold carefully

Folds are complex, and there are no fewer than eight types to choose from: Basic, Parallel, Roll, Poster, Gate, Map, Accordion and Exotic. These families go by many names, and each comes with distinct characteristics, which translate to different functions or purposes when designing mailers.

For example, a gate fold —two parallel folds that create outward-opening panels—is great for “revealing” information. Meanwhile, an accordion fold—zig-zagged folds that collapse onto each other—is great for distinguishing different messages across panels. Get familiar with the different folding options and how they affect messaging.


You’re probably not a folding expert like Trish Witkowski at Fold Factory, which is why it’s important to work with a Pittsburgh printing expert like AlphaGraphics. Always have your designer fold a dummy down—a paper mockup to show the binder how the printed piece is intended to fold. This can help avoid any costly mistakes from the design alignment. And, because we’re talking about self-mailers, it’s always a good idea to check with the post office to see if a folded mockup meets USPS delivery guidelines.



Not sure if your mailer is up to USPS standards? AlphaGraphics is happy to help! We work closely with the USPS to make sure your folded design is mail-ready.


Why pay for folds?

There is, of course, a cost that comes with direct mail folding. It’s usually not expensive; however, many marketers balk at it and tend to send out their mailer sans-folds. In reality, the most cost-effective solution is to send the mailer with folds and capitalize on the ROI folding can generate.

The dynamic appeal of folded mailers amplifies even simple direct mail pieces into powerful marketing tools. Folds can tell a story, control the narrative, generate interaction and drive interest—all while ensuring your mailer gets the attention it deserves from recipients. All it takes is a reason to stop and consider the mailer for a few seconds to justify the cost of printed and folded mailers.

Want another reason to spend a bit more on folded mailers? According to Spectrum Marketing Companies, an engaging mailer isn’t only likely to get attention from recipients—it could also create trust or promote action. According to the firm, “75% of Millennials find that the mail they receive every day is valuable and most would prefer direct mail over email when receiving a promotional piece.

Given the opportunity to get their message in the hands of someone who will read it, more and more marketers are opting to fold self-mailers. If you’re one of them, talk to AlphaGraphics Pittsburgh about print and fold services for direct mail pieces and how they can boost the effectiveness of your next direct mail campaign.

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