Coupon Mailers: How Direct Mail Advertising Still Works

While direct mail coupons may sound like a thing of the past, they’re actually the way forward. From small businesses to big retailers, coupon advertising gets your brand into the hands of new and established customers alike. We talked to Foldfactory founder Trish Witkowski about our Coupon Mailers (“They invite interaction!”) and how they deliver not just discounts, but also details and dividends.

Coupon mailers

Coupon Mailers 101

A designer product from Foldfactory, the Coupon Mailer is a practical addition to your marketing collateral. Folding like a tri-fold brochure, it opens to reveal three perforated sections that can be coupons (of course), but also loyalty punch cards, tear-off business cards, food and drink tickets, instant RSVPs and product or service advertisements.


And with an online printer like Smartpress by your side, you can print your own coupon mailers in no time at all. Our coated and uncoated paper stocks help you create the look you want, while our substantial cover weights give your unique mailers the right feel.


As with all print marketing, the color of your design tells part of your story, too. Whether you’re showcasing (and promoting) artwork with full-color printing or sending important event details with a minimalistic layout in black and white, color can help you capitalize.


Hint: Can’t wait for Trish’s expert tips? Jump to the Q&A section below!

Direct mail coupons


Don’t Skip Direct Mail Coatings

The final piece of the customizing puzzle? A UV coating. On one or two sides, our coating protects your print, guards against moisture and adds a professional finish in subtle flat matte or high-shine ultra gloss.


Kevin Wallace of the Weber State University Wildcat Store in Ogden, Utah, opted for flat matte on his Wildcat Store Brochure. (Bet you didn’t think schools were using coupon mailers, did you?)


With both promo and hiring messaging, Wallace’s branded mailer was used as a “handout [for] incoming students at orientations to make them aware of our services and locations.”

Taking advantage of our double-sided printing, Wallace included all the fine print and even a QR code on the back of each “coupon” for quick, easy access. Follow his lead for your own promo details like dates, exclusions and websites.


Hint: For mailings, we highly recommend a coating to protect the address and artwork from being damaged by mail handling equipment. Consider these tips when choosing a one- or two-sided coating:

  • If you’re adding stamps and messaging after printing, a one-sided coating keeps the graphic side intact and allows for stamps and a handwritten note on the non-coated side.
  • If you’re using a printed indicia (an imprint that signifies postage has been prepaid and takes the place of a stamp) and variable addressing, a two-sided coating fully protects your printed piece.
Coupon advertising


Flaunt the Mailer Format

Part of our exclusive Designer Folds collection, these marketing mailers can be part of your overall direct mail arsenal for one-off promotions, events or both. And whether or not you have actual coupons and discounts to offer, the coupon mailer format has plenty of space for other crucial information and messaging.


Utilize the whole layout for a map of your event or a list of your products and services. Include customer testimonials and top-rated reviews or be like Jacob Chavez, graphic designer at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, and turn coupon mailers into thank you cards.

“[We] celebrate Hospital Week each year to thank our nurses, providers and staff for the care they provide to our community year-round,” said Chavez. “This format made it possible for us to include a message thanking our staff and we coordinated with local businesses to provide three coupons for take-out, free coffee/ice cream and a movie at a local theater.”


But that’s not all. Chavez took the mailer one step further. “Vendors would then return the coupons to us so we could accurately reimburse them for their services after Hospital Week was over,” he said. “The coupon mailer completely streamlined this process for us.”

Direct mailers

Seal & Send

Getting your mailers to customers, clients and employees is simple with Smartpress’ online printing services. We offer complete mail fulfillment, from list processing or acquisition to addressing and sending.


And speaking of addressing, we make it even easier with variable data printing. With variable data, you can personalize each mailer with someone’s name and address, member rewards ID, tiered discounts and more.


Compatible with post office automation, coupon mailers can be sent at the letter rate and must have three tabs or wafer seals. Wondering where to get them? Smartpress handles that for you, too. Look for the Wafer Seals & Tabbing dropdown on the product page and your mailers are good to go.


Design Tip: When designing your coupon mailer, make sure the address block is on the middle panel and parallel to the side that measures 7-1/8″.



Q&A with Trish

Before you begin designing your own mailers, check out our chat with Foldfactory founder Trish Witkowski. We talk paper stock recommendations, what makes coupon mailers special and another fold format you’ll want to pair with them.

Design your own coupon mailers
Creative coupon mailers



What do you like most about the Coupon Mailer fold?
Trish Witkowski: “First, it’s simple. And when opened, it’s abundantly clear to the recipient what they should do: Tear out the coupons! I also like that the coupons are already halfway out. The process is started for you, and with the perforation, they’re fun and easy to remove. Lastly, I appreciate the triple-coupon formation. There are lots of creative ways to use it.”


What makes this creative direct mail truly unique and noteworthy?
“The fact that the coupons are integrated into the fold-in panel. Coupon mailers come in many forms, but most of the time coupons are glued onto a panel, you have to cut them out or they’re just perforated rectangles. These coupons have style and shape and they’re actually a part of the mailer. They invite interaction.”

What are some ideas for how to best use the Coupon Mailer?
“Vouchers for free drinks or snacks at an event, keep a coupon and give two to friends and family, three coupons valid for three different date ranges, passes to three different workshops/events, raffle tickets for a fundraiser, loyalty rewards or points, or use them as business cards, service reminders or clip-n-save contact information.”


When should one use 80# cover stock vs. 100#?
“The 100# cover will not perform any better than the 80# cover (for print quality, mailing or tear-out experience). They’re both great weights for the Coupon Mailer. The difference is subliminal to the customer. Thickness and rigidity can speak to quality, but 80# cover is not flimsy either.”

Sleeve mailer




Do you have suggestions for using variable data printing on a Coupon Mailer? What information have you seen personalized?
“Oh, there are so many things you can do to personalize the coupons. Anything from putting the person’s face on them to their name or something specific to them or their interests.


“You could also include a personalized URL that leads them to where they can use their coupons. If it’s a loyalty program, the coupons could have their loyalty rank or points on them. How about a college sports fundraiser that is sent to alumni with tickets or coupons for merchandise batch-printed by their sport of interest or graduation year?”


“Use both sides of the coupon. Remember that once someone tears the coupons off and sets them aside, they may discard the brochure, so don’t leave important information off of the coupons.”

The Sleeve Mailer is another one of our creative mailers. How does it differ from the Coupon Mailer?
“The Sleeve Mailer offers an entirely different experience than the Coupon Mailer. Both mail formats can deliver special offers, but I like them both for different reasons. The sleeve is more protective and the insert can be whatever you want. It can be one large event pass or coupon, it could be a booklet or folded piece. There’s a lot of flexibility there.


“The Coupon Mailer, on the other hand, is just so practical and easy, and that’s a benefit, too. I would say the Coupon Mailer is more casual and the Sleeve Mailer offers a more formal presentation.”


What do you like most about the Sleeve Mailer? What is an important online printing design tip for it?
“There is something irresistible about a sleeve with a thumb pull, so my biggest tip is to make sure the reveal pays off. It’s so disappointing to slide out a sleepy insert. Put a lot of thought into what comes out of that sleeve!”



Hint: Want more direct mail ideas? Get more folds:
Unveil the Unexpected: Marketing with Designer Folds
Stepped Accordion Fold: Create Enviable Marketing Brochures
The Big Reveal: Advertise with the Square Folded Cross


Wildcat Store Coupon Mailer Design by Hillary Wallace, Creative Director | Weber State University
Hospital Week Coupon Mailer Design by Jacob Chavez, Graphic Designer
Sleeve Mailer Design by Maranda Steinmetz-Robey

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