What is a Self-Mailer?

Self-mailers are most simply defined as a piece of mail without an envelope. Self-mailers can be sent flat on a thick paper stock or they can be folded into two or more panels. Postcards, bi-folds, tri-folds, and booklets that are sealed before entering the mail stream are examples of a self-contained mailing format. They can be sealed using glue lines, wafer seals, or glue spots along the edge.

Benefits of Self-Mailers:

  • Cost: Because they require no envelope, self-mailers have no envelope or inserting costs. This makes them a great option for tight budgets – check out our recommended sizes for the most cost effective mail piece here.
  • Messaging: When unfolded, self-mailers provide lots of real estate for graphics and messaging.
  • Paper Stock: Even on digital presses, self-mailers can be printed on a wide variety of substrates, including heavier substrates.
  • Design Options: While we tend to think of self-mailers as simple, folded formats, their substrate flexibility allows them to include pockets and interior panels into which you can insert gift cards, reply cards, or small samples.
  • Personalization: Because self-mailers can be digitally printed, they can be fully personalized like any other mailer.

Ideal Audience Types:

Self-mailers are readily identifiable as marketing mail, so they are prone to receiving lower response rates.

For this reason, some businesses use them for mailing to people with whom they already have a relationship—loyal customers who will open them simply because of their relationship with the brand. Others use them for campaigns in which people want promotional mail. Examples include promotions around clearance sales, new store openings with discounts, and free samples. We see them heavily used around college recruiting, as well.

The Takeaway:

In the end, choosing the correct format depends on your target audience and the goals of the campaign. Test some different options to see what works best for your business!


Aradius Group is a commercial printing company that specializes in marketing strategy, specifically with direct mail, based out of Omaha, NE.