Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope

When looking at the components of the typical direct mail-out, it can be easy to overlook the role of the humble envelope.

The envelope is the first thing people see when they receive your direct mail.

For those receiving a direct mail from your group for the first time, the envelope is a key factor in making a good first impression on them. For those who regularly receive your direct mail-outs, your envelope should be distinctive and recognisable in order to prompt a good feeling every time they receive mail from you.

In short, your group or organisation needs to "push the envelope" in order to get your direct mail not only sent to the right people at the right addresses, but to entice those people to open it and see what's inside.

Tips to Effectively Push Your Envelope

The direct mail envelope is often the last thing groups can think about when they undertake a mail-out. Often, after all the planning and preparation work put into the contents of the direct mail-out, the envelope can almost be an afterthought.

But it shouldn't be that way.

Because it is the first thing people see when receiving your direct mail, the appearance of the envelope should be a primary concern – and should also be the subject of decent planning and preparation as well.

There are a number of things your group can do to make sure it has its direct mail envelope looking the best it can.

Not all of the tips listed below will suit your group's direct mail-outs. Go through the list and consider some of the options presented – and how they might possibly improve the appearance of your existing direct mail envelope.


  • Correct Details
Maybe the first and most important envelope tip to consider is to make sure your letter actually arrives at its destination – and that means, making sure the name, address and postcode are clear and correct on the envelope.

It is no use working hard on getting the contents of your direct mail right if it ends up not reaching its destination because of incorrect address details on the envelope.

Worse than that is an envelope with the name of the intended recipient spelled incorrectly. That's a sure-fire way of making sure your letter ends up in the bin.

  • Stamps
An option many people consider – and one which is suggested by a number of experienced direct mailers – is the use of real postage stamps on your direct mail envelope.

You probably know yourself that when you receive mail that the ones with postage stamps on them seem more personal, more interesting and intriguing – and less likely to be a boring bank statement or bill you have to pay!

Ultimately, they often end up the letters people open first; and getting recipients to at least open your direct mail letter is part of what you are after.

  • Mail Labels or Handwritten Envelopes
Mail labels are an effective way of making sure the contact details on the front of your envelope are neat and correct.

As long as the labels are drawn from an accurate and up-to-date database – and mail merged properly – they work very well.

Some direct mailers feel that typed mailing labels can be a bit impersonal, and that handwriting names and addresses on the front of each envelope provides a personal and human touch to groups' direct mail-outs.

However, mail labels are neater, more practical (has your group got the time and resources to hand-address dozens or hundreds of envelopes?) and, ultimately, more professional-looking.

If your group's direct mail-out is only small, it may be worth thinking about hand-addressing your envelopes. If not, using mail-merging and your group's database to create neat and professional mail labels is probably the way to go.

  • Envelope Art/Graphics
An effective way of catching the eye of a direct mail recipient can be to feature art or graphics on the envelope.

Not only can these elements set your envelope apart from other, plainer ones which arrive each day in the mail, but they can also effectively advertise and promote your group.

By using your group's logo or colours on the envelope, recipients will either be able to easily identify who has sent the letter, or, if unfamiliar with your group, be able to make a new association between your group's name and its logo or colours.

Other envelope graphics can be used to draw attention to an accompanying message on the envelope, or to emphasise a message that you will be conveying inside. Make these graphics snappy but not overbearing.

And remember, if your group does use a third party's graphics, you will need to obtain permission from that person or company.

  • Message on Envelope
Including a message on the envelope can "push" people towards the action you wish them to take, as well as alerting them to the contents of your direct mail package.

Make the message short and simple – for example: "An Invitation"; "We Need Your Help"; or "Special Event".

Featuring this message with some complementary graphics or colour on the envelope could make it more interesting for recipients, as well as "previewing" the message contained in your mail so recipients know what to expect.

  • Different Coloured Envelope
Using different coloured envelopes is another way of making your direct mail stand out.

Simply put, its human nature to undo and look at mail in a brightly coloured envelope before all the mail in "boring" white envelopes.

If you are going to use coloured envelopes, a point to remember is to make sure the colour matches or complements any logos or "group colours" you might use.

  • Different Size or Shape Envelope
Along similar lines to using different coloured envelopes is making your mail distinctive by using different sizes or shapes.

For example, a smaller, square envelope might be just right for an invitation to your group's upcoming special event (possibly with wording on the front saying "Your Invitation").

  • Use Recycled Paper
One other way to make your envelope stand out is to use recycled paper.

If you do so, remember to print the recycled paper logo on the back of the envelope – not only to show that you are using recycled paper, but to encourage others to do so as well.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.