You spend a lot of time and effort conceiving, designing, and implementing your direct mail campaigns. It’s frustrating when your recipients don’t take the time to open them to see what’s inside. But that’s not their problem. It’s on you to make your mail piece so enticing that they can’t help but to open it. So we came up with some tips that will help you improve your direct mail designs and get more eyes on your marketing messages. Here are seven direct mail envelope ideas that will help you jumpstart those open rates—and get more responses.


Direct Mail Envelope Ideas: What to Expect


Around 40% of consumers say they read or at least scan the direct mail they receive. That’s a good starting point, but we want much higher numbers. Direct mail open rates can get into the 90% range, but you’ll need a pretty persuasive campaign to get on that level. That’s why we’re here. Sure, you could send a dimensional mailer. They get close to 100% open rates, but those kinds of campaigns come at a pretty steep cost. Let’s tone down our expectations a bit and see how we can get your envelopes opened with direct mail designs that actually work.


1. Use Personalization Techniques


personalized direct mailMarketing execs know that personalization is important for accomplishing their marketing objectives. That’s because nearly 90% of consumers admit that personalized marketing increases their chances of buying a product or service. People love seeing their names in print. Studies show that when you add someone’s name to your direct mail piece, it will not only get them to open your envelope but will also boost response rates by 135%.


Personalization runs deeper than including someone’s name, however. As powerful a tactic as that is, it also helps to personalize based on other variables like location and interests. The more relevant the message, the greater the chance of a positive response. Wouldn’t you have more of an interest in a piece of mail tailored to your needs? Why would you treat your customers any differently? It’s one of the most basic but successful direct mail envelope ideas you can use.


Let’s Talk About Variable Data Printing


In a direct mail marketing strategy, you can’t talk about personalization without variable data printing (VDP). This process allows you to personalize the text, graphics, and photos from one printed piece to the next without slowing down the printing process. You can use your existing direct mail data to create targeted campaigns that get results. In fact, there’s no limit to the number of customizations you can incorporate to create hundreds or thousands of variations of one mailing piece. This personal data, in turn, leads to increased open rates and responses.


2. Try Different Envelope Sizes


We’ve all received the standard business envelope in the mail. It’s what most mail looks like—common, plain, and doesn’t require much thought. It’s the most common of the various types of direct mail you could choose. As a result, it’s also overlooked a great deal. But because we’re focused on direct mail envelope ideas with this post, we’re naturally open to any size envelope. In fact, we’re encouraging you to try different sizes with your direct mail designs. This will help differentiate your brand from the rest of the mail in people’s daily stash. You should consider the length, width, and thickness of your campaign to be sure you’re within a certain price range for letters.


The size requirements for letters are:


  • Minimum of 5″ x 3.5″ x 0.007″
  • Maximum of 11.5″ x 6.125″ x 0.25″


You’ll get more savings via USPS Marketing Mail or send them First-Class, depending on your budget and urgency.


3. Put Something Inside the Envelope


direct mail Have you ever received an envelope that wasn’t flat? You could tell there was something in there, but you weren’t sure what. You opened that envelope, didn’t you? Your curiosity was so piqued you had no choice, really. The same can be said of your customers. If they receive an envelope from you that’s kind of lumpy or bulging, they’re very likely opening that envelope to examine the contents. In fact, the Online Marketing Institute says that dimensional mailings have a 250% higher direct mail success rate than standard envelopes. Use this tactic to improve your print marketing results.


Now, the questions become:


  1. What do I put in the envelope?
  2. How will it affect my postage costs?


If your product lends itself to including a sample that fits in an envelope, that’s a very viable option. But we’re guessing that’s not the case for most businesses. That leads us to Plan B: the promotional item. Again, it’s a judgment call, but a notebook, pen, refrigerator magnet (or something useful that relates to your business) with your brand’s logo on it is usually well-received. Furthermore, it promotes brand awareness and has some longevity. If a pen, notebook, or magnet is sitting around someone’s house, it’s a constant reminder of your business. That can’t be a bad thing. As far as postage costs, it only increases the cost per lead by about 50%. Do the math. There’s a good chance you’re going to like your ROI on that campaign.


4. Use Color to Appeal to Your Target Market


There’s a lot to consider when you’re pondering direct mail envelope ideas. But one of the most important things for any marketing exec to take into account is the color of the direct mail piece. That’s why it helps to have an understanding of color psychology. It could spell the difference between a successful campaign and one you’d rather forget. What’s the best color envelope for direct mail? It all depends on who your target audience is and what they like.


Color psychology reveals how colors affect human behavior. Different colors have different meanings, associations, and emotional effects that change depending upon who’s looking at them. So what color envelope should you use? There’s no right or wrong answer here. But you can find the correct answer for your recipients based on your own research and a good dose of common sense as it pertains to your industry and individual business.


Direct Mail Designs: What Colors Mean to Your Customers


Here are some popular colors with general information about how brands can use them to speak to their customers.


  • Red. If you want to make a bold statement—or draw attention to a particular part of your envelope (and/or letter)—red works wonders. Use it to create awareness for consumers to open your direct mail letter. Red is also popular in the foodservice industry, as it can increase people’s appetites. Just be careful with this color. Use red sparingly unless it’s part of your brand palette and you know your audience recognizes you by it.
  • Green. If you work in the healthcare industry, green creates feelings of peace and contentment. Studies show that green actually relaxes your customers. It’s also great for environmental causes.
  • Blue. Financial services and fintech brands often use blue in their branding and marketing materials. Why? Blue symbolizes trust and honesty. If you want people to trust you with their money, the color blue is helpful. It’s also worth noting that blue has a particular appeal to men.
  • Purple. Purple elicits feelings of royalty and esteem. It’s a passionate color. That’s why luxury brands love it. Purple delivers a bold message to its affluent customers. Also, women respond well to various shades of purple, like lavender.
  • Orange/Yellow. Here are two bright colors that (like red) promote a sense of urgency for CTAs. Neither is quite as bold, though, so they’re used more often as primary colors.
  • Pink. The color pink is popular among young and adult women, but it’s gaining more acceptance across a broader demographic range. That’s why T-Mobile, Baskin Robbins, and Dunkin’ have used it successfully.


5. Use Teaser Language


print marketing tacticsWhat you say on the outside of your direct mail envelope can have a tremendous effect on your open rates. We talked about using personalization techniques in your direct mail designs, especially in the recipient’s name on the mail piece. This tactic works. But there’s some other language you can use on the outside of the envelope as well. By “teasing” recipients with words that hint at what’s inside—or reference what’s inside—you’ll get more people to open the envelope and read your message.


We’re not talking about tricking people into opening your mail piece, though. That’s the direct mail equivalent of clickbait. But you should consider hinting at what’s inside—like the offer—and doing so in a way that’s both honest and intriguing.


6. Plan Your Arrival Times


There’s a good time and a bad time to show up in mailboxes. Why? Because people are less likely to give your mail piece their full attention on certain days. Good thing you can strategically plan when to deliver your direct mail campaign. It’s called direct mail timing. For starters, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are good days to plan your campaign’s arrival. The weekend and those two days surrounding it are bad. It doesn’t mean your campaign has no chance to succeed on any given day, but our goal is to give you direct mail envelope ideas that work—and mid-week works!


Holidays and birthdays—they work, too. People are looking at their mail for gifts and cards, so they’re going to give your direct mail piece more than a quick glance. This immediately boosts the chances that your customer will open your envelope. Another clever option is your business or industry’s busy season. For example, if your brand’s product or service lends itself to a particular time of year (like a lawn care business), you can use that to your advantage. Consumers think about taking care of their lawn as spring approaches. So you can plan your campaign to arrive in that late winter/early spring time frame.


So how can you “plan” when your mail appears in mailboxes, short of putting it there yourself? We’d love to talk to you about that. Contact an MSP representative to discuss your business and how you can reach your customers when you want to.


7. Clean Your Data Before Sending


clean data postal optimizationIn a perfect world, all the addresses on your mailing list are accurate. But we don’t live in a perfect world. People move, your staff enters information incorrectly (or more than once), and it leads to what we call “dirty data.” These mistakes happen far more than you can imagine. In fact, it’s a $3 trillion per year problem for U.S. businesses. So, of all the direct mail envelope ideas we could give to you, perhaps the most foundational is to put the correct address on the mailing label. Genius, right? That means you’ve got to stay on top of your data hygiene and list management habits. Persistence is key.


When you have a list full of incorrect addresses, for whatever reason, your open and response rates will plummet. So be sure to clean your data before sending each campaign. Clean data doesn’t have any errors and you should strive for a perfect list, even though you may always have a small percentage of errors. But if you’re cleaning your files regularly, you’ll see vastly improved results with each campaign. If you’re renting a list, be sure to perform a merge/purge and dedupe. When you apply these techniques, you’ll have the most accurate list possible.


How Direct Mail Envelope Ideas Work Best


What’s the best way to implement these direct mail envelope ideas and improve your direct mail designs? Your best option is to work alongside a trusted, experienced direct mail partner. MSP has that experience, plus the technology to get your campaigns to your customers quickly and efficiently. We don’t outsource our envelopes. In fact, we have a state-of-the-art custom envelope press in-house that delivers fast, consistent color to your campaigns.


Furthermore, MSP also offers our clients a direct mail management software solution. It’s called Direct Mail Panorama. This revolutionary program gives you the ability to track and analyze every part of your direct mail strategy, from production to delivery. Direct Mail Panorama performs a wide variety of functions so you can create your best direct mail campaigns quickly and easily. The end result is better campaigns and increased ROI.

Increase your open rates.

Turn your direct mail envelope ideas into more opens and responses!

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