A Look Inside the Outside
In general, teasers tend to work better for organizations that deal with urgent aid and/or high-impact, time-sensitive issues rather than ongoing social services.
Other familiar organizations such as the American Red Cross or American Heart Association have more success with plainer, more institutional outer envelope treatments because their mailings can ride on their reputations, and they don’t have to jump through hoops to get attention.
Kinch says she sees over-the-top teasers being replaced by more reserved ones.
Closing the window
Closed-face carriers, envelopes without poly windows, have pulled greater response rates but historically are much more expensive than standard envelopes. However, they’re becoming more economical, to the point of quickly paying for themselves, and are more personal.
“To me, direct mail works because it sounds like it’s from me to you, not from me to a million people,” Kinch says. “One of the ways I can do that is have it look like I actually wrote this letter to you.”
The Sierra Club tested a gray No. 10 with “Immediate Action Required To Preserve Endangered Species Act. Petitions Enclosed” copy on the outer against its three-year control: a closed-face, gray-wove No. 12. The closed face, Kinch says, won and it remains unbeaten.
The gifts that closed-face mailings reel in also can be higher. One of Kinch’s clients mails a closed-face carrier in acquisition that says only, “See what we can do,” on the outer.
“It struggles to get 1 percent, but it’s getting a $42 average gift. [It’s] bringing in donors for $8, $9, that are worth $400 in the first two years,” Kinch says. Lester says she’s seen closed-face outers work well with mid- to high-dollar donors.
Like teasers, outer-envelope graphics don’t work for every organization. Graphics are key for some advocacy organizations, such as environmental groups, because a lot of what they’re trying to communicate is visual, Lester says.