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5 Keys to Success: Envelopes for Direct Mail

You can write the best sales letter in history and mail it to people who are the most likely to buy your products and services. However, the truth is, you won't make any sales or generate any kind of response to your letter unless the recipient opens it. Here are some trade secrets that might help convince people to rip apart the envelope and read your letter.

Use non-traditional envelopes

If your letter looks like junk mail, chances are it will end up in the trash, unopened and unread. Avoid common #10 envelopes. Experiment with different color and shaped envelopes. (Remember not to go too small; the Post Office requires that letters be at least 3 ½ inches high x 5 inches long x .007 inch thick. Anything smaller may jam postal equipment or be lost. Click here for size and shape regulations from the U.S. Post Office.) For smaller mailings you might try envelopes made of a higher–quality paper stock.

Avoid postage meters

Stamp your envelopes with real stamps. Though it is likely to save you money, the "bulk mail" stamp of postage meters is often a telltale sign of direct mail. For smaller mailings, send the information priority mail. Play to the 'it must be important if someone is spending that much money to mail it' mentality.

Hand-write addresses

Yes, it will be a time–consuming task, but marketing experts believe people are more likely to open envelopes that have handwritten addresses than those with computer or mail–merge labels.

Carefully craft your return address

Add a little mystery to your mailing. Think about only putting your company's address on the envelope or use your personal name instead of your company's. Curiosity may encourage recipients to open your letter.

Add a lump or two

Provide a free giveaway in your letter such as a customized pen, pencil, or small notepad. Direct mail experts say recipients will definitely want to see what's inside the slightly bulky package. Note that bulk items will need to be hand–cancelled at the post office as a machine can crush or damage the contents. Additionally, you may have to opt for a larger or padded envelope to insure the letter arrives in good shape.


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