Envelope Envy: How to get Your Direct Mail Opened in Your Customer’s Driveway

Imagine you’re sitting in the lobby of a business waiting for your interview. You’re prepared, professionally dressed, you’ve done your research, and you’re ready to explain to the hiring manager why you’re the right fit for the job. Your interviewer enters from the closed doors behind the front desk, makes eye contact with you, and then walks in your direction with an extended hand. Business Insiderand studies from Princeton Universitysuggest that a first impression about your level of competency and trustworthiness is made within those first seven seconds. For direct mail, the time you have to make a first impression is even less, starting with the envelope it comes in.


Tension Envelope3, a leader in envelope manufacturing, claims it takes up to three seconds for an envelope to be recognized and stand out in a stack of mail. That means the reader first judges the contents of your mail piece by its envelope, and in a few seconds decides whether it’s worth opening based strictly on the appearance of a few certain elements. Thanks to research by renowned direct marketing professor Siegfried Vögele4, here are five areas of the envelope your readers evaluate first and suggestions on how to get it opened and away from the trash pile:


  1. Address Block 

The first place people look, and arguably the most important section of an envelope, is the address block. It’s the first opportunity to personalize your mail piece, so it’s important to get it right. Verify that the recipient’s name and address are spelled correctly, that their address is current, and that you’re using 10 to 12-point font5 to ensure it’s legible. Missing these steps could lead your reader to think you’re soliciting them for an unworthy cause.



  1. Postage Area

People often gauge the importance of a mail piece by its postage. Is yours marked First-Class Mail, U.S. Standard, (now Marketing Mail), or nonprofit? Does it have a stamp or a printed postage permit? Make sure the postage type accurately reflects the intent and level of urgency of your piece. Your team at Genesis Direct can provide you guidance if you’re not sure.



  1. Teaser Copy

Here’s where you can get creative! Incorporating color and copy, like the example above, may pique your reader’s interest to want to learn more. This could also help your envelope stand out among other basic envelopes within those crucial first three seconds.



  1. Return Address

Are you mailing to your recipients for the first time, or do they already know who you are? If they do know you, adding your company name to the return address could boost open rates. To be certain, Genesis Direct can set up an A/B test with and without your company name to find out which method is more effective.



  1. Flip Side

You can’t control which side of the envelope your reader sees first, so don’t forget about the valuable real estate on the back of the envelope for another chance to stand out and engage. Your logo or creative copy could get your reader to open it before it’s even flipped over!

To learn more about getting the most out of your direct mail envelopes, email your Genesis Direct representative for a free consultation, or dial 813-855-4274, press 0 and our receptionist will direct your call.


  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/only-7-seconds-to-make-first-impression-2013-4
  2. http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2017/05/02/alexander-todorov-on-the-science-of-first-impressions/
  3. https://tensionenvelope.com
  4. http://cdmdirect.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Blog_1_How-people-open-and-read-direct-mail.pdf
  5. https://about.usps.com/publications/pub177.pdf



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