Mailing Envelope |
Letter | Brochure | Response
Piece | Reply Envelope | Miscellaneous
Inserts | Self-Mailers | Information
There are many different elements that can be
used in a direct mail package. Each has its own purpose, but all should be used
with the same objective in mind. The objective should be to attract the interest
of the prospect and then maintain it long enough for them to accept the offer.
The elements used in a direct mail package will vary according to the format
selected for that promotion. There are some basic specifications that need to
be determined on all elements. The specifications should be developed so that
they coordinate with the design of all the elements in the package.
- Paper stock
- Ink color
- Special coatings
- Die cutting
Some of the basic elements for direct mail are
the outer envelope, sales letter, brochure, response device, inserts and reply
envelope. The basic elements are explained below.
The design of the outer envelope is very important.
It can make the difference in whether or not the recipient opens the envelope
to view its content. It should give some clue as to what type of subject is
enclosed so that it attracts the attention of the recipient. Some of the techniques
that can be used are discussed below.
Building curiosity is one way to arouse
interest. Creating curiosity can be accomplished by using an incomplete
sentence or story to lead them to the inside of the envelope to continue
the statement or complete the story. You could also place a headline
from the offer on the outside of the envelope if you felt it would
Design the envelope according to the
audience that you are targeting. If your product can be used by different
industries, use a different envelope for each that contains elements
targeting that group. The response rate will be greater if the recipient
feels the mailing is being sent to their particular industry sector.
Personalizing the message to the interests of the people in a particular
geographic area can also be very effective.
A window, other than an address window,
can be placed on an envelope to allow the recipient to view part of
the content. The window which allows part of the content to be view
is intended to arouse the curiosity of the recipient, which in turn
should increase the response of that mailing. Versioning can also
be used to target different interest groups. The element that show
through the window could be changed according to the interest of each
targeted group by the use of laser imprinting or different letters
or brochures showing through the window. Also, having some type of
device, such as coins, stamps, discount cards, membership cards or
sample products, show through the window will increase response.
Using different versions (letters, brochures, or inserts)
that relate to different interest groups.
Transparent envelopes are also good
attention getters. They work on the same basis as a window envelope
that allows you to view the envelope content. A transparent envelope
allows you to view all of the content on the front and back side of
the package. The information you do not want viewed before the envelope
is opened can be collated between the top and bottom pieces of the
The transparent envelope makes it easy
to view the important information, items that imply value and enclosed
selling devices. Transparent envelopes also come in colors to add
another creative design feature to your package. To see more information
on transparent envelopes, see Envelope
Using value or making the envelope look
important is a way of getting people's attention.
Listed below are some ways of using value to attract
- Make a statement on the outside of the envelope about the value
or importance of the content.
- Use a specialty type envelope.
- Have the envelope made from a specialty grade of paper.
- Add seals and stickers with messages.
- Indicate that there is something free inside of the envelope.
Conveying the feeling of urgency makes
people feel that if they do not respond, they will be missing out
on a special opportunity. Indicating on the envelope an expiration
date or that there is only a limited quantity available, are a couple
of ways to express the urgency of an offer.
There are many standard size envelopes
available in different styles and colors. The most commonly used size
in direct mail is a 6" x 9" booklet. It is a size that works
well for many mailings and is the largest size that some inserters
will take. One drawback to using the 6" x 9" size is that
it may be acquainted with containing something someone is direct market
selling and result in a negative response by the recipient. But, used
with the right creativeness, it can also result in a positive response.
Using a standard size envelope is generally
the most cost effective option. However, if the mailing is large enough
and you have the time to wait for a special order, a custom envelope
can be almost as cost effective and worth the increase in response
that it may create. To see some of the standard sizes that are available
in various types of envelopes, see Envelope
When choosing an envelope that is custom
made, be sure to consider postal regulations so that the envelope
complies with the minimum and maximum requirements. Failure to comply
to the postal requirements can increase your postage costs dramatically.
Also, if you want to use automated rates, there are other guidelines
that must be followed. Automated rates are approximately half of regular
First Class Mail rates. To see details on the postal requirements,
Regulations - Outgoing Mail. For details on the different
mailing classes that are available, see Postal
Mailing Package Alternatives
There are alternatives to using an envelope
for your mailing package. The content of your package may require
the use of a mailing package that would satisfy a more 3-dimensional
need, such as a box, tube or polybag.
The letter of your mail piece is used to tell
your story or convey your message. The length of your letter will depend on
how much information needs to be presented to get your message across. It can
be as short or long as necessary. You will need to decide on the type of structure
you will want the heading and signature of your letter to be. The structure
type could be corporate, personal or product reference.
The physical size of the letter can be most any size you want it to
be. Certain sizes have a tendency to imply that the letter is a certain
- 8 1/2" x 11" is a standard business size.
- 7 1/4" x 10 1/2" monarch implies that it is a personal
- 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" resembles an informal note.
Using a non-standard size may add more interest
than a standard size. An 11" x 17" can be folded to
an 8 1/2" x 11", giving you four pages to present your message.
Your letter can be most any size that fits with
the overall concept of your promotion. One thing to keep in mind is
how well it will cut out of a standard stock size, eliminating as
much waste as possible. The cut out is something that should be checked
with the production department.
The letter should be easy to read and have an interesting
look to it. Using personalization, headlines, bold type, handwritten
notes and drawings or photos will help stimulate interest. Use short
easy to read paragraphs. If it is a business letter, it should be
more formal and printed only on one side.
A brochure does not always have to be included
as part of the direct mail package. If the brochure does not provide essential
information or purpose to the overall message of the promotion, it is an unnecessary
cost. If a brochure is designed well and adds credibility to the message, it
is well worth including. Testing with and without the brochure will help to
evaluate its value.
The brochure is a good way of showing more details
about a product or service. The recipient can actually see a picture of the
product being offered or a setting in which a service is being rendered. It
helps to give them a better perspective and feel for what is actually being
The brochure should contain all of the major aspects
of the offer that are contained in the letter, such as the basic offer, testimonials,
warranties, contact information and order information. The brochure could also
be designed to contain the response piece as one of the panels. A perforation
would be added so that it could be removed and mailed back. The perforated response
section would eliminate the need for a separate response piece.
The recipient should be able to understand the
entire promotion by just reading the brochure. At times, it may be the only
thing that is read by the recipient. The brochure, like all the elements of
the direct mail package, should stimulate the recipient to respond to the offer.
Listed below are some points to keep in mind when
planning and designing your brochure.
- Use the largest area of your brochure to show the best illustrations
of your product.
- The opening or the front page should be used to express your main
message or offer.
- Make the message appeal to their needs and emotions.
- Express what benefits the product or service can provide for them.
There are several formats that are used for brochures.
Some of the more common ones are shown below.
Brochure - Generally thought of as a 4 or
6 page, printed and folded piece.
Booklet - Eight or more pages glued or stapled
Broadside - Larger than a brochure and is
intended to be unfolded to a flat piece. It usually consists of both
parallel and perpendicular folds.
Pamphlets, Flyers, Inserts & Stuffers -
Smaller items that generally unfold to be no larger that the letter
is when unfolded.
The main purpose of all the elements in the direct
mail package is to get someone to respond with the response piece. The response
piece may be anything from a complex credit application to a single "Send
more information" card.
Some points to consider when planning and designing
your response piece are shown below.
- The response piece is generally about the size of an envelope.
Be sure it is large enough to be noticed.
- If it will be returned in a reply envelope, be sure it is a size
that can be easily inserted into the envelope.
- If the response piece is a self mailing card, be sure it is large
enough to meet postal requirements, see Postal
Regulations - Business Reply Mail.
- It should contain easy to follow instructions and sufficient room
to enter information, making it easy to use.
- Response pieces that are order forms should list all of the available
items so that the respondent only has to check the item or fill
in a quantity.
- Requests for information should make it easy to understand exactly
what they are requesting.
- Add a look of value to help attract the attention of the respondent.
Some ways of attracting their attention are shown below:
- Make it look like a check or certificate
- Use a border that resembles that of a traveler's check or
- Use seals, foil embossing and stamps
- The location of the response piece in the mailing is important.
It could be the first or last thing that you want them to see. If
it contains the offer, you may want it to be the last thing so they
see the entire message about the offer first.
- It could be a section at the top or bottom of the letter so that
it is sure to be seen. It is then detached to be returned.
- Provide a preaddressed business reply envelope or if a reply card
is used, be sure that it is preaddressed.
- Prepaid postage on the reply envelope or card is an added feature
that will result in an increase in responses.
The reply envelope is an important part in the
direct mail package. It encourages a faster response and makes it convenient
for the recipient to respond. It also provides more confidentiality than the
reply card when sending sensitive information.
The reply envelope can be designed creatively to
reflect the theme of the promotion. When designing the envelope, there
are some restrictions that have been set up by the United States Postal
Service as to where copy can be place on the envelope. Following the
guidelines will still give you some good options for creatively placing
copy. The envelope can have postage prepaid or request that a stamp
be added. For details on the USPS guidelines for business reply mail,
see Postal Regulations
- Business Reply Mail.
The back of the reply envelope can also be printed.
It is a good place to remind the recipient of the necessary steps
that must be followed when filling out the respond card.
Generally the letter, brochure, reply device and
mailing envelope are all that you need in your direct mail package. If other
inserts are used, be sure there is a good reason to include them. Some of the
reasons that additional inserts are used are to draw more attention to a message
that may get lost in the main message, or it can be used to offer a special
deal in addition to the main offer. Inserts of this type are sometimes called
buckslips. It could be an additional letter from another person of authority
within the company, such as the president, reinforcing what a valuable offer
it is. The letter could also be a testimonial from a satisfied customer on the
quality of the product or service.
Different variations of inserts may be used as
a way to use versioning in the direct mail offer. The versioned inserts would
be used to change the offer for different segments of the mailing lists according
to geographic, demographic or gender. The information on the versioned inserts
would relate to the interests of the different groups.
Elements of Self Mailers
The self mailer format has gained popularity in
the last few years. It is different from the traditional direct mail format
of a mailing envelope, letter, insert and reply piece in that it is designed
with all the different elements combined into one. All elements are printed
in one press run, making it less expensive than running them all as separate
runs, especially in larger quantity runs.
The self mailer forms its own outgoing envelope and can have a business
reply envelope included as part of the mailer. There are many formats
available with unlimited possibilities. For more information on mailers,
see Mailers -
Types or Mailers
When the offer consists of a request for information, you are
really dealing with a two step process. The original offer is to send back a
reply that requests additional information. The second step is supplying the
information requested. The requested information can be in the form of a brochure,
information kit, video tapes, CDs or DVD discs. The second step should have
the same creative design and tactics as the original offer. It should contain
a letter which clearly states the actual offer and is designed to get the attention
of the recipient. The mailing package and any additional inserts must be interesting
and designed to persuade the recipient to take the necessary action to read,
view or access the information provided.
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