Do Your Envelopes Make the Cut?   2 comments

At Eagle we’re always trying to determine what works best and why. Recently we turned our attention to what kind of direct mail envelopes are most effective in increasing return on investment. Maddie Houts, our ace summer intern, set out to do an informal experiment. Here are the results of Maddie’s investigation:…

Post Office Bin     photos 2

At my local post office there are two huge bins where you can throw away any catalogues, magazines, or letters you pick up from your P.O. Box and no longer want.  I decided to rifle through the bins looking for letters that didn’t “cut through the clutter” and make the ride home.

DFB Front  Dog Food Blacklist Envelope

The first I found was a letter from The Whole Dog Journal.  To me, this letter was enticing because it had key words printed all over the envelope.  It promises a “Free issue and a free gift” and on the backside says “WARNING” in a bold font and color.  The back of the envelope lists foods that are hazardous to dogs’ health, but only names the product on the inside.  You would think that any dog owner would open this up immediately, yet the envelope didn’t make it through.  It could be because, according to a Print in the Mix article, what is printed on the back of an envelope is significantly less important than what is on the front.  A supporting study revealed that around 60% of people would not even look at the back before opening one.  This is a possible explanation for its inability to catch the consumer’s interest, as most of the compelling words are on the back.

Envelope-Capital One

Who else finds this letter unexciting? I know I do! Then why am I showing this to you?  Because of all the envelopes in the bins, I feel that this one most effectively highlighted their window.  Experts state that windows aren’t just for bills anymore.  They are incredibly cost and time-effective, and a great use of space if you have the creative wherewithal.  The only color on this Capital One envelope is a blue band surrounding their two windows, which draws your eye to that space.  However, I personally don’t find their copy particularly enticing, and certainly not persuasive enough to make me consider switching my credit card or bank provider.  Also, there was no blue band on the back of the envelope, which I feel disrupts the visual continuity.  So though I commend their window highlighting, I think I understand why the consumer threw this one in the bin.

Envelope 1 Front and Back

SDZ 1 Front  SDZ 1 Back

Envelope 2 Front and Back

SDZ 2 Front  SDZ 2 Back

The San Diego Zoo does a great job with marketing so I was particularly interested in these envelopes. They were sent to two people with different materials enclosed.  They feature text and 4-color pictures, and quite frankly are the first ones I picked up because I had to get a closer look at those adorable animals.  So then why is it that The San Diego Zoo failed to make it through the clutter not once, but twice?! For the Envelope 1, the answer is clear to me.  Though there is an interesting photo and eye-catching text, there is no promise of what lies beyond.  Why do you miss me?  Are you going to renew my membership?  What is this about?  It is unclear and un-compelling motivation for me personally to spend time reading the contents of this piece. However, I think Envelope 2 does a much better job of creating interest in the materials.  It is decorated on both sides, states exactly what to expect of the contents, and offers a coupon.  Notice though that the words “you” and “we” never appear.  Studies suggest a mailer is more likely to fail if it lacks of personal interest.

My experiment and research both support this bottom Line: Use color.  Use words.  Use windows.  Use anything you can to cut through the clutter of the many direct mail campaigns filling the average mailbox.  Because if you end up in the reject bin, the only people who will see your pieces are curious marketing interns like me.

Read more articles about envelopes here, here, and here.


2 responses to “Do Your Envelopes Make the Cut?

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  1. So insightful! Thanks Amy!

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