Five Ways to Improve Outer Envelope Language
Format, the cover letter, the reply form, the premiums and/or freemiums … all key components of a direct mail package. But the most key component of all, most likely? The outer envelope. Here are six ways to make the language on that outer even more effective at achieving its end goal: getting the prospect to open the package.
1. Focus on the Outside
“Mailers may say differently, but they tend to focus on what goes inside [the envelope]. But if you don’t get them past the outer envelope, it doesn’t matter how great your cover letter is,” asserts Pat Friesen, copywriter and owner of Pat Friesen & Co. in Kansas City, Kan.
Friesen is one of many copywriters who consider the outer envelope message, or lack thereof, the make-or-break point of a package. She mentions the first three seconds that a prospect will look at and feel an envelope and how fundamental that experience is to the package’s success—how it looks, feels and reads. “All those things need to work together, even the postage and the addressing,” comments Friesen, who says effective outer envelopes are tailored to the audience and the offer inside, as well as seek to stand out from the competition in the mailbox.
2. Master the Process
The language used on the outer envelope begins with the product and the audience, says Friesen, because you must know the product and the benefits to the audience you’re talking to. “I tend to write my outer envelope last because I usually find something in the brochure or letter that is going to be the ‘A ha!’ that drives the message on the outside, if I’m going to put one out there,” she explains.
For Ruth K. Sheldon, copywriter and president of Ruth K. Sheldon & Associates in New York, it’s a similar gathering process until the moment of outer inspiration strikes. “I dig to find the hook or the irresistible [unique selling position] that can be alluded to on the outer and used in the entire package,” she reveals. Along the way, she makes sure to factor emotion into the outer equation, such as appealing to the big emotions (i.e., greed, fear, envy). “These powerful hooks have got to fit in with the objective of the mailing, the positioning of the product and the overall objectives you’re trying to achieve,” she says.