Direct mail continues to be a reliable marketing tactic for small businesses. One of the keys to having a successful mailer is an envelope that stands out. Even in the current hyper-digital landscape, direct mail defies the odds, delivering some of the most impressive results among all marketing tactics. The open rate for direct mail is as high as 90%–compared to 20% for email. And the response rate for direct mail is nearly four times higher than for email. No wonder direct mail has been embraced by so many small businesses.

However, there’s a catch: your mailer has to be opened and read! That means your envelope needs to stand out and reel in potential customers. Here are some ideas to get your mailer noticed for the right reasons.

Truth in Advertising Matters!

Before getting into the features that make a direct mail envelope irresistible, we want to warn you away from one potential strategy: making your mailer look like an “official” piece of correspondence.

You’ve probably received an envelope that looked like it was from an important government agency or financial institution, then opened it … only to find an invitation to buy a used car or get a quote on auto insurance. And it probably enraged you, and the entire package went straight into the garbage. Those official-looking letters get opened, but making a potential customer angry isn’t an effective sales strategy. We always recommend being truthful and showcasing your goods, services or offers in the most flattering light possible.

Great Teaser Copy

A teaser copy is that little line on the outside of the mailer that gives a brief, enticing clue to what’s inside. Don’t worry about trying to be too clever or witty: for best results, use copy that’s short, straightforward and “to the point.” Some of the hardest-working teasers are simple and straightforward:

  • Offer inside
  • Open immediately
  • Limited-time savings
  • From the president’s office

Colorful Design

A colorful, nicely designed envelope will help your mailer stand out. Avoid making it feel too busy or too loud. For maximum impact and efficiency, talk to an established direct mail expert: depending on postage or if you’re using an indicia, you may not be able to have graphics on every part of the envelope. Involving your print house early in the design can help avoid costly mistakes.

An Unusual Shape

Even though the old “tried and true” letter size envelope works, you may see an even better response rate with a larger envelope or an unusual format. Oversized postcards let you feature a glossy, high-color photo on the front and have tremendous “pick me up” value. If you have high-value prospects, a dimensional or “lumpy” mailer is also a great way to stand out from the crowd. Catalogs are making a comeback, and the response rate for the oversized mailers that contain them climbed 170% between 2004 to 2018.

This Time, It’s Personal(ized)

One of the things that can make or break the success of your direct mail campaign has nothing to do with design: it’s the quality of your mailing list, which is definitely another topic for another time! Let’s assume you’ve grown your list from scratch and diligently maintained its hygiene. Adding the recipient’s full name can increase the response rate by 135%, compared to if you’d just addressed the mailer to “current resident.”

The Extras

They’re not essential, but these features can also lift open and response rates.

  • A cellophane window
  • A “handwritten” element
  • A live stamp

It All Adds Up to Success

An impactful direct mail envelope is only part of the equation. You need the entire package to get the best results from your campaign. Direct mail is one of our core specialties, and we can help you design and produce cost-effective mailers that get results. Contact us to learn more.

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