Creative Best Practices

Whether you’re designing a dynamic creative that uses personalization or a static creative for all recipients, there are a few key elements to keep in mind to make sure your creative is impactful, effective, and drives response:

Less is More

The first step in successfully translating your design is understanding the anatomy of Poplar’s HTML template files. Right click Poplar’s .html template file and Open With… a text editor of your choice (Sublime, VS Code, TextEdit, etc.):


We recommend including a call to action such as promo code or sale announcement on both the front and back of the postcard, so they’re always visible no matter how the mailer is handled.  Remember, there is no guarantee someone checking their mail will see the front of your postcard first!

If you feature a promo code, including a simplified URL ( vs. will help with more accurate front end tracking. Placing the offer on a bolder, more eye-catching background color or banner is another technique that’s often used to grab attention, drum up excitement, and give the recipient a clear course of action.


We also recommend featuring at least one customer testimonial as a way to further reinforce the value prop; plus it lends credibility and is a great way to establish trust in your product.


Depending on the size and format of your mailer, you’ll want to make use of the real estate wisely. If you’re planning a retargeting campaign that uses a 4 x 6 postcard, you may not want to include your company’s mission statement or a six step list on how your subscription system works on top of a promotion or call to action that should already have center stage. 

Using contrasting colors and larger font sizes are among the top techniques for creating an outstanding postcard design, but they aren’t reserved for text alone. The same strategy can be applied to icons, which we suggest utilizing whenever possible, to help quickly identify key differentiators and important selling points to break up any text-heavy areas. 

Too much text risks looking like too much reading and in this age of TLDR, we recommend using full panel images, collages, icons, etc. to create an engaging and eye catching piece - a picture is worth a thousand words!

Let's Get Technical

Obvious differences aside, certain elements used in email and social media marketing campaigns don’t always translate perfectly to direct mail. For example, images for print production should always be as close to 300ppi/dpi as possible; whereas images used for marketing on screens typically stand at a lower resolution around 72ppi-150ppi. It is always important to make sure the images used in your creative design are high-resolution, otherwise they run the risk of printing blurry or pixelated.

Certain color profiles, overlays, and transparencies are also at risk of printing incorrectly if the layers aren't flattened. For PDF creatives, the best overall fix for these concerns is to export your files as Adobe PDF Preset: [PDF/X-1a:2001]. It is the most print-friendly PDF format and automatically takes care of flattening layers, transparencies, and color profiles without altering your design. If you’re not sure your files are [PDF/X-1a:2001], the Adobe Preflight tool can be used to analyze and fix any elements that aren’t print-friendly.

Last but not least, since postcard creatives are always printed at larger dimensions to include a bleed, then trimmed down turning production, we do not recommend designing with a white border or crop marks. Always make sure colors and images run edge-to-edge, so on the off chance there’s a millimeter shift during print, you don’t run the risk of them appearing in the corner of the final product.

Samples & Proofs

If your timeline allows it, we always recommend sending yourself or your coworkers a physical sample of the mailer before launch. However if you are in a time crunch, a PDF proof is available for download in the platform.

Be sure to always double check your creative design for any spelling mistakes, missing elements, or formatting errors before launching your mailers and team up with a coworker if you can - it always helps to have an extra set of eyes!

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