The Linchpin of Direct Mail and Email
The 100 Percent Element—The Outside Envelope
The first element to look at was the outside envelope.
Legendary freelancer Herschell Gordon Lewis made the analysis very simple. He wrote:
"The only purpose of the carrier envelope, other than keeping its contents from spilling out onto the street, is to get itself opened."
Quite simply, if the mailing is thrown out unopened, the envelope is a 100 percent failure.
An envelope that is opened is 100 percent successful.
Whereupon, it is discarded and counts for zero in analyzing the success or failure of the mailing.
What are the elements that get an envelope opened? Kansas City freelancer Pat Friesen identified the six outer envelope "hot spots." They are:
1. Corner card/return address. Is the sender familiar or a stranger?
2. Addressing. Window, label, computer type, handwritten? Are the recipient's name and title correct?
3. Postage. Live stamp? Printed indicia? Metered indicia? (Printed indicia usually indicate junk mail.)
4. Teaser copy (if any).
5. Back envelope flap (if any design or copy).
6. Back teaser copy (if any).
The Email Version of the Outer Envelope—100 Percent or Zero
With a message in your email inbox, only two elements exist on which to make an open/delete decision:
1. From line. Is the sender familiar or a stranger?
2. Subject line. The equivalent of the teaser in direct mail.
"All direct mail gets opened over the trash can," wrote freelancer Lea Pierce.
The online corollary to the Lea Pierce dictum: "All email in the inbox is scrutinized with fingers on the delete button."
Like the direct mail envelope, the from and subject lines count for either 100 percent or zero.
Mel Martin, "The World's Slowest Copywriter"
Many writers spend endless hours creating the perfect direct mailing or email campaign and then slap on teaser copy or subject line as an afterthought and sent the thing off.