Self-mailers—with their eye-catching formats, flashy designs, and nearly unlimited size, dimension, and finishing options—may get a good deal of the creative attention, but for most direct mailers, envelopes are the real go-to format. In the first half of 2006, some 65 percent of all efforts received by the Who’s Mailing What! Archive arrived in an envelope. In 2005 that number was a similar 64.2 percent, and in 2004, an only slightly lower 63 percent.
With numbers like this, it’s easy to see why envelope creative, while perhaps not as exciting as its self-mailing cousin, is an important discipline to watch. Not only do mailers need to be aware of what tactics currently are working to draw prospects into a package, but they also need to be aware of what consumers are seeing in their mailboxes on a daily basis. After all, if nearly two-thirds of the mail a prospect sees arrives in an envelope, what’s going to make an effort stand out? What will prompt him to open one envelope over another? To give you an idea of what’s working at the moment, here’s a look at some of the envelope creative trends that are heating up the Archive’s mailstream.
* The blind outer. There are two schools of thought when it comes to outer envelope design: Make it official-looking or make it clearly advertising. The last few months have brought a number of mailers opting for an official look, including ones that traditionally have gone for a more commercial appearance. Perhaps they’re taking advantage of the steady decline of First Class mail, but mailers such as Zurich, PHH Mortgage, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Forbes, Salesian Missions, International Campaign for Tibet and American Jewish Committee all have been in the mail with very plain, blind outer envelopes. It’s not surprising to see such mailings from financial services and insurance mailers, but Sprint, Comcast and DIRECTV also have dipped into this trend, replacing more commercial self-mailers with plain-Jane envelopes. It’s also interesting to note that many of these blind outers are using either meters or indicias designed to look like meters as postage, though the nonprofits tend to stick with live postage.