No letter can persuade, convince, or sell if it doesn't get read.
That's why, in direct mail, the copywriter's very first job is to get the envelope opened.
What techniques can you use to get the prospect to open your envelope instead of flicking it on the junk pile?
Here are seven battle-tested copywriting tips and techniques that can help make your envelope a winner.
And now, "the envelope, please"
1. Don't feature your corporate name and address if it doesn't mean anything to the reader
For example, there's a good chance that the words "Quicken" or "QuickBooks" mean more to prospects than the corporate name "Intuit." That's why you should put your corporate name, return address, and logo on the back of the envelope. Recognizable product names on the front.
NOTE: Did you know that the only time postal regulations require you to include identification on the envelope is when you're mailing at the low rates available to fund raisers?
2. Load up your envelope with copy
There's no law that says teaser copy has to be just one line long. A while ago I completed a direct mail package for Sun Microsystems that featured teaser copy fifty words long. Yes. That's a lot. But I was confident that our carefully targeted readers would be interested in the benefits of Solaris software. On that basis we made the decision to be aggressive on the envelope. It worked just fine.
3. Don't use any teaser copy at all
This is the exact opposite of the advice I gave you in #2 above! So why the complete contradiction? Because there are times when a blank envelope will work. If there's no writing on the envelope the reader HAS to open it in order to check out the contents.
Which works best? Lots of copy or no copy on the envelope? There simply isn't the space for me to answer this in detail, so let me leave you with this general rule: For most purposes, when you're mailing bulk rate, give envelope copy a shot first.
4. Try using a different size envelope
If you're locked in to using #10 envelopes, try testing another size. The obvious choice is the 6 x 9 format but consider using a 6-1/2 x 9-1/2. It's a standard size too, and only costs a little more. Or try a large envelope, letter flat. Or a distinctively colored envelope. Anything you can do to stand out from the other letters in the pile is a plus.
5. Give a window envelope a try
Very often a window envelope, with the personalized Business Reply Card showing through, will pull better than a closed-face envelope. Consider giving this a test.
6. Use multiple windows
There's no law that says an envelope can only have a single window. Sometimes what's peeking out from behind a second window can grab the reader's attention. When should you use an extra one or two windows? When you have a four-color brochure or reply device and can let some of the provocative copy peek through. Don't settle for what you've always done in the past. Stretch yourself and test something new. Who knows? It just might be a real money-maker!
7. Use the space on the back of the envelope
A lot of the envelopes I see completely ignore the back surface. This can be a mistake. You see, you never know how your package is going to fall on someone's desk. That's why it makes good sense to use both sides of the envelope if your printing budget permits.
A final word . . . the envelope really is one of the keys to success in any mailing, and I urge you to create one that works. Sure, the letter does all the hard selling, but if the envelope never gets opened, the greatest letter in the world will go unread.