Seven Rules to Get the Most from Your Direct Mail Envelope

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About the Author

Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson

Marcus is a Senior Writer who blends creative writing and idea generation to bring copy to life for leading financial services organizations, professional sports teams, healthcare, and outdoor brands. The question this University of Minnesota graduate and former winner of the Best in Show from the National AgriMarketing Association loves to ask is, “How can I help?” When he’s not pounding out copy, he loves doing yard work, especially leaf blowing. In sports, Marcus cheers for the Humboldt Broncos, the Canadian hockey team that lost 10 players in a 2017 bus crash.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Hmm. It’s not from anyone I know, at least I think it isn’t. It looks kind of important. I should probably open it. If I don’t, I’ll wonder all day what it is.”

Amazing how much power that brown kraft paper envelope — empty of information except your address and maybe an obscure return address — exerts over you.

So let’s consider direct mail envelopes, what they do or don’t tell us and why, all in service of getting you to open them.

Saying a little something goes a long way — the art of the direct mail envelope teaser

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: the goal of the direct mail envelope teaser (or lack thereof) is to get you to open your mail without revealing too much about what’s inside. Here are seven “lucky” rules to live by when you’re considering what to put on your outer envelope:

Rule 1

Don’t use teasers that give away too much; they discourage opening. If you already know what’s inside the direct mail envelope, you don’t need to go any further.

  • The exception to Rule 1 is that the offer is so good (FREE Vacation!) that people will open the envelope anyway.

Rule 2

Give them a reason to open. In evaluating any transaction, the first and last question people ask is “What’s in it for me?” If you fail to answer that question or offer a setup/payoff mechanism on your direct mail envelope, your letter will get tossed.

  • Example: “Furnish your whole house for the price of one room. Details inside.”

Rule 3

Pay off the OE promise. As a general rule, a teaser that’s paid off by a reveal performs better.

  • Example: “We just received a shipment of the tools you want. To see what’s in store, open here!”

Rule 4

Build anticipation. As a rule of thumb, not creating intrigue or excitement with your direct mail envelope works against you. If you are including a teaser on your DM package, the offer or promise you make must be un-ignorable.

  • Example: “You’re one of 100 people to receive this special offer. Don’t wait to respond!”

Rule 5

If you’re using the word “offer” on your direct mail envelope, you’d better show that it’s a great offer to overcome the subtext that someone wants to sell you something.

  • Using the word “offer” in a teaser sounds like a sales pitch and works against you, with some exceptions. Better to use language like, “To see something you really want at an unbelievable price, open here!”

Rule 6

Apply AIDA principle to direct mail envelopes.

  • This topic is worth its own blog post. Suffice to say for the purposes of this discussion that AIDA stands for Attention (what is it?), Interest (I like it.), Desire (I want it.), and Action (I’m getting it). That’s clearly the path we’d like our prospects to follow when considering our product or service. The purpose of your DM envelope is to start them down that path.

Rule 7

Keep it simple. Minimalism is also a powerful inducement to open a DM package.

  • Simply using words like IMPORTANT or URGENT or NOTICE or RESPONSE REQUESTED gives someone a reason to look inside.

Finally, let’s return to that crafty brown kraft paper envelope. That, of course, is a blind outer envelope, meaning there’s no outward indication of its origin or purpose. Sometimes saying nothing on your outer envelope is the strongest argument of all for opening the envelope to see what’s inside, especially if the appearance of your direct mail package suggests it’s arrived in your mailbox in some official capacity.

Get the return on marketing investment (ROMI) you want thanks to data-driven testing and award-winning creative

Get your outer envelopes performing at a higher level at the same time you’re improving your overall direct mail marketing execution with our data-driven strategies.

Contact the experts at IWCO Direct. We’re here to make your marketing better.

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