I wanted to write my first post about something incredibly thoughtful, serious and profound.  But, then I started looking for photos of envelopes to post with this blog. And I literally saved dozens of photos of envelopes--different shapes, sizes, stamps effects, strings of postage.  I was so inspired!

I know that the trusty #10 white OE generally outpulls other types of carriers (unless it contains a red renewal stamp--that technique wins every time). But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying to find the right package for the right donor--and it starts with the outer envelope.

As competition soars and more and more organizations enter the direct marketing space, it is critical to look for new ways to capture a donor's attention and interest.  But, that doesn't mean that the outer envelope choice should be gratuitous.  Mailing a 9x12 because you've mailed six #10 envelopes in a row isn't a strategic choice; it's just a choice to be different.

Instead, consider the content. Is it about an overseas program?  Try an airmail looking envelope.  For higher-dollar donors, consider drop-shipping the packages directly from that country so the envelopes hold the overseas stamps and postmarks.  Is it an invoice package going to the older portion of your file?  Ensure the envelope feels secure and the information protected.  Trust is critical with this audience.  And our favorite go-to for children’s causes of using child art?  Don’t assume it’s a touch-down (sorry all—Eagles are up 24-7 on MNF); after rigorous testing and segmentation, I’ve really only seen this technique work well on donor segments that have young children (because, let’s face it, it’s mostly parents of young children who have an emotional connection to crayon drawings).

And don’t assume that color is always going to win on an outer envelope. I rarely see full-color beat a non-color envelope.  As an industry, we moved to full-color envelopes when the cost for printing declined dramatically. However, often full-color, full-bleed envelopes depress results.  Of course, that doesn’t account for overall brand-lift, visits to your website and general awareness. But, it’s worth testing—and retesting.

Biggest trends I see coming up for direct mail envelopes? Off-sized, cardboard-type paper and padded envelopes.  But again, it’s about the donor segment, their connection to your organization and the message you are trying to achieve. 

Because, at the end of the day, sometimes a plain #10 envelope is the best option.