Traditional mail comes in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Between postcards, flyers, and brochures, you have endless options in what to send and how to customize it for your prospects. One tired and true option is the direct mail envelope and its letter. While the letter contains you main offer, it’s the outer envelope (OE) that protects it and ensures its proper delivery. However, it’s easy to overlook the envelope and its role in the letter opening process.
Imagine what a mailbox would look like if all envelopes were blank. Sorting mail would be a mess. There wouldn’t be any way for the recipient to know about special offers at a glance, and there’d be little chance to strike an impression. Traditional mail would be boring.
Of course, the importance of your envelope isn’t only to make the mailbox more interesting. Personalized envelopes are a major player in direct mail marketing for good reason, and if you’re not using your business or charity envelopes to their full potential, it’s time to get serious.
Direct mail envelopes are your opportunity to reinforce brand identity, test response rates, and generate leads.
1. Reinforce Brand Identity with Personalized Envelopes
An envelope is an introduction to a potential customer, business partner, or donor. Before a recipient looks at the letter, they look at the envelope to determine if it’s worth opening. As such, you want to make a solid impression. After all, you’re a professional. Whatever industry you serve, you have the power to shape public perception through how you present your company. Direct mail envelopes are one tool you can use to reinforce your brand identity.
To help forge a favorable impression, you want to ensure everything is aligned properly for a professional appearance. Use your colors, and choose words that resonate with your audience when advertising a deal or asking for a donation. In these ways, you can let recipients know what you’re about and what need you meet.
2. Test Your Direct Mail Envelopes for Success
You can’t improve your envelope game if you don’t know what works. Data-driven design is valuable in any medium, and direct mail envelopes are no exception. Small changes can yield big, and sometimes unexpected, results. If you’ve ever researched or tried your own A/B tests on a website, then you know how changing the text on a call to action can decrease or increase leads. The same applies to your direct mail envelopes, so it’s worth testing what you’re sending out.
What Do I Test on Direct Mail OEs?
There are many ways to experiment with custom envelopes. Different copy, fonts, and colors influence response rates. Experiment with listing offers and not listing offers. Test which colors receive the best response rate. Size is another factor. You might test #10 envelopes against 9 x 12 or 6 x 9 vertical envelopes. Certain shapes and sizes may cost more to send but yield better results due to their different appearance in a pile of similarly sized letters. You won’t know until you try.
One item to keep in mind: don’t become over-confident in one type of envelope without testing it. You might be surprised by your audience response.
3. Generate a Decision in 3:33
What if I said your envelope and letter have 3 minutes and 33 seconds to avoid the trash and convince your recipient to read the contents and determine if they will respond. Fail, and your letter will meet an untimely end. This might seem frighteningly quick, but it’s known as the 3:33 Rule in direct marketing. It’s believed your envelope and its contents have this amount of time to avoid the trashcan and keep the recipient’s attention.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- 3 seconds – Recipient decides to keep or toss your letter
- 30 seconds – Recipient opens your letter or puts it aside for later
- 3 minutes – Recipient reads and decides to respond or not
That’s not a lot of time, which is why the outer envelope is so vital. In fact, the first 3 seconds puts all the pressure on your envelope to start the letter opening process. Give your dire mail envelopes the attention they deserve so you can see what works best and discover ways to improve your response rate.