The 3 Senses of Outer Envelopes
There aren't a lot of things you can do to improve the tactile quality of a direct-mail letter without significantly increasing cost (furry envelopes are a bit pricy), but consider how your mailing will be received by the donor when he or she first touches it. Will there be a split second when the donor is curious enough to move on to the next sense?
Direct mail envelopes are visual
How does your direct-mail package look to the donor when he or she first receives it? If there's a photo, does it compel, please or intrigue? Is there color that captures attention? Does it look professional or personal, instead of ignore-able?
Many tests have been done to find what elements make an envelope more likely to be opened. But take a few minutes to conduct this personal test. Look at 10 or 12 envelopes from direct mail you have received lately. What ones stand out to you? Why do they stand out? (No, you aren't your target audience, but try this anyway.) What do you find noticeable — and why? Are there ideas you can emulate?
I just did this with the nine letters sitting on my desk right now. Three stood out — a dark blue one (broke through the "whiteness" of the rest of the mail), one with a second window showing a personalized membership card and one that was sized to look like a card with handwritten font. OK, to be honest, a fourth stood out, too — it had a badly cropped photo of a child that resulted in a rather freaky look. That was standing out for all the wrong reasons!
Direct mail envelopes are verbal
No, I am not advocating putting a chip in your mailing that features Supertramp singing "Give a little bit of your love to me" when the donor touches it. But there are messages that are being shouted out by your envelope.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.