Fun fact: on June 10th, 1902, a man named Americus F. Callahan received the first patent for a window envelope. If math isn’t your strongest suit, this Friday is the 114th anniversary of windows appearing in envelopes.
I’m not a huge celebrator of little-known holidays, but this one deserves a shoutout. Window envelopes—as melodramatic as this will sound—changed the direct mail game. They actually continue to do so, even 114 years later.
A large majority of our clients use window envelopes. I would estimate that 80% of the mail we design and produce features a window in the envelope. In other words, windows are used a lot.
Using a window does two good things. First, it’s less expensive. Not necessarily the envelope itself, but window envelopes avoid the costs of match inserting. When the recipient’s address can be printed on the form and put into a blank envelope that allows the address to show through the window, it takes a lot of labor out of making sure Jane Doe’s letter doesn’t go to John Smith’s house.
Windows Enable 1-to-1 Marketing
The second benefit is the ability to use personalization, which has become critical to our business and will become even more important as time goes on. Because the form is going to be personalized anyway with the recipient’s name and address, why not add a personalized message that can grab their attention right when they open the mailbox? A window envelope opens up the possibility of 1-to-1 marketing without making production costs skyrocket.
The Possibilities are Endless with Windows
The imagination can run wild with windows. The standard position for a window is in the lower left corner, but there are really few limitations on where you put a window, its size or its shape. You just need to be sure you are meeting postal regulations for automation rates. We’ve done die-cut windows where the window is the shape of a logo or a symbol. We’ve also created wrap windows that go around the envelope, not to mention large windows, double stack windows and pistol windows. Utilizing non-standard windows and changing the position from the bottom left corner creates intrigue and helps prompt the recipient to open the envelope.
The marketing advantage that a window envelope has is its ability to allow messaging and graphics that are on the inside form to peer through to the outside viewer and tempt them to open the package. This is especially effective when used as a teaser for savings messages and cards.
Design with Windows in Mind
It’s critical to think about window placement when designing. Consider the whole package early on and how each aspect interacts and fits with the others. You want to make sure that the window is working as hard as it can to create intrigue and stand out in the mailbox. Taking the window into consideration early on in the design process allows you to capitalize on that opportunity.
There are no real drawbacks to using window envelopes. They are flexible, cost effective and create a space for you to use data and personalization in an intelligent, strategic, impactful way.
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