Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope

Mailing experts often share ideas for getting your envelope opened, but the best way to know what works for your organization is to Test. Test. Test! Everyone’s audience is different. If your direct mail needs a little ‘lift’, consider asking yourself:

Should I be putting teaser copy on the outside of the envelope?
Many think that a teaser printed on an outer envelope will boost response. However sometimes it can do the opposite. If you can’t come up with a compelling teaser, don’t use one. If you have a strong teaser in mind, consider an A/B test. Be sure to abide by all the rules of good copywriting. Be specific, be benefit-oriented, speak directly to the recipient and make your copy attention-grabbing and intriguing. 

The teaser can be placed on the front, back, and even inside a converted envelope. The back side, which a high percentage of recipients look at is free from any of the other “competing” distractions needed on the front and is often left blank.

Adding unique messaging for each recipient can increase response rates, whether it’s through variable-data messaging, versioning, or even actual handwriting. Keep in mind though, a blank envelope from a stranger almost always gets opened. 

Should I put my return address on it?
If a name and address appear in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope face or on the back flap, the recipient can tell who sent it to them – a confidence booster, right? However, be careful that it doesn’t backfire. When a publishing company added the title of a newsletter in their return address area– which already contained the editor’s name and company – response dropped by 25%.

For most of you, if you have an existing or ongoing relationship with the recipient, don’t disguise the origin, capitalize on it! It will increase recognition and open rates, especially with past customers and donors.

Consider not using your organization’s name or logo when mailing to upper-level executives. If budget permits, mail to them via FedEx or Registered Mail. Recent surveys of executives on the topic indicated this gets the job done.

Will the size or color of the envelope make a difference?
Usually larger-sized envelopes respond better than regular #10 carriers – but often not enough to make it profitable. There are tons of exceptions to the rule so be sure to test.

Get creative with envelope stock! Smooth stocks show off your color designs better, while textured stocks such as linen or felt, offer a high-end feel.  Colored stocks should be tested because results waiver between audiences. Explore the multitude of options available, such as vellum, glassine, even polybag-type envelopes.

What type of postage application is best?
Conventional marketing wisdom says that the most responsive postage media is an affixed stamp, followed by metered mail and then the preprinted indicia. Some marketers report that commemoratives and other unusual stamps lift response. Try the tactic of using multiple low-denomination stamps instead of a single stamp. 

First Class vs. Marketing Mail postage? Budgets usually dictate Marketing Mail postage. But using First-Class postage when mailing to select people can lift response enough to be profitable. First-Class wins when speed of response is critical. 

Should I use a closed-face or window envelope?
Window envelopes showing a reply device with the recipient’s name and address imprinted allow a reply without the chore of filling in personal information and can be a less expensive option. Some suggest that you stay clear of window envelopes, this can make your mailer look like a bill or bulk mail. The ideal solution may be to imprint addressing information on both the envelope and reply device, using a closed-face envelope to look like “real” personal or business mail.

What about those postal markings on the envelope?
The automation lines that normally appear above the address help to properly sort the mail for USPS injection. One option is to remove the automation lines on the first and last piece of every tray, leaving the majority of the mail without them. Automation lines can also be removed if you commingle your mail. 

Barcodes, on the other hand, play a key role in properly moving mail through the postal system and are required on all mail pieces.  However, simply moving the bar code to the bottom right instead of centering it above the address can make it appear similar to a single mail piece dropped in the mailbox.

Is timing important?
Use timing to your advantage. Envelopes have the best chance of getting opened if they are delivered on Tuesday or Wednesdays, the lightest mail delivery days. Stay away from Mondays, as those tend to be the heaviest delivery day. By including mail tracking on your envelopes, you can predict specific delivery days more effectively. But keep in mind that the USPS delivery standards are always a moving target.

Don’t over-mail to an individual. Four to six weeks is a good interval between mailings. You want to stay fresh in your prospect’s mind without becoming a nuisance.

Should I consider changing up the look of my envelope?
While it’s important to keep the design consistent with your other marketing materials, using the same envelope design for multiple mailings may work against you. If you are planning on sending out multiple mailings over the course of time, consider changing up the size or look of the envelope, the teaser, or even the return address. If a recipient sees the same envelope over and over, the mystery of what is inside isn’t a mystery anymore. Be mindful though, if you have trained your audience to look for mail monthly, you may want to test before making a change. Mix it up on special appeals only.

In any direct mail program, testing is critical to continued success. When testing your direct mail envelope, send one variation to group A and a second to group B to see which version performs better. The results will give you all sorts of information that lead to better decision making on future mailings. 

Ask a Badger Group rep to share some ideas for your next direct mail campaign.


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