Ways to Choose the Right Envelopes for Your Direct Mail Campaign


Ways-to-Choose-the-Right-Envelopes-for-Your-Direct-Mail-CampaignFirst impressions are everything. It’s an old idea, but it still holds true—people are only human, after all. And the same thing applies to a direct mail campaign – the envelope you use may not be high on your list of priorities, but it can make the difference between getting your mail shot read or dumped.

Envelope Criteria

Choosing the right envelope depends on several criteria:

  • the size and shape of your mailing
  • who your target recipient is
  • the type of product or service you’re marketing
  • your budget and the amount you have available to spend after the printing and production.

Choose the Size

The size of your envelope determines several things, in addition to the unit cost of your direct mail shot. Studies show that while the average consumer is more likely to open an oversized, brightly-colored item than one that looks like the rest of her mail. The business professional, on the other hand, is more likely to open something more official-looking. Important business offers rarely come in fancy, creative coatings, so those could get relegated down the line or dumped in the trash without opening. Of course, if your mailing itself is fairly small and compact it doesn’t make sense to use a huge envelope to ship it, so here’s where you have to make a decision between impact and cost based on what you are sending and to whom you are sending it.

And then there’s the practical aspect. Unless you want to have your envelopes specially made, you’ll need to choose one of the standard sizes. These are:

DL: The most common size for a direct mail campaign, the DL accommodates letter and legal sized sheets of paper folded into three or four sections. It isn’t the smallest size, however, and if you’re sending a large mailing you need to have it mechanically folded for this size to be cost effective.

C6: This is the smallest size and it takes a card or a letter folded into quarters comfortably. If you’re inserting cards manually this is likely to be the most convenient size.

C5: These envelopes hold a letter size page (8 /12 x 11”) folded in half or a medium-sized booklet or report. One of the most popular sizes for direct marketing, the C5 is good for mailings that go to both B2C and B2B markets because they are acceptable for both. The envelope is also big enough to accommodate your logo and some promotional information, which makes it doubly attractive.

C4: This takes a full size letter page without folding, which makes it ideal for printed catalogs and brochures. While popular with consumers, this size may be recognized by business people as being marketing-related, so it depends on what you’re selling and what you’re sending by mail.

Select a Style

Non-custom envelopes come in a range of styles, including:

  • The ‘pocket’ envelope, which opens on its shortest side and is popular for business-related mail.
  • Banker style – this uses a V-shaped flap on the longest side and opens in a similar fashion to a birthday card envelope. These are generally seen as more likely to be used for personal mailings, and that could increase the chances of it being opened.
  • Wallet envelope. This type of envelope opens with a square-edged flap located along the longest side. This envelope is recommended for any direct mail campaign going to business clients, because they are slightly more formal than the banker styles.

Sealed with a Kiss

Well ok, not exactly. Few direct mail campaigns could stand that level of personalization. Most need to be sealed somehow, though, and your choice of seal can make or break the mailing.

Peel-and-seal provides a stronger closure for thick envelopes containing several documents. Gummed flaps are usually the cheapest type of seal available, but they mostly have to be moistened manually to close them. This creates a risk of dampening the contents, or of not sealing adequately and having the envelope lift open during transit.

Self-seal works by having two layers of latex connect with each other, which don’t require dampening or peeling of a strip. These envelopes are usually the default for direct mail services such as the bulk inserting machinery that is typically used when you’re sending a large mail shot with thousands of letters.

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