Direct Marketing Mail: How to Create Envelopes That Get Ripped Open Immediately!

For many marketers and business owners, direct marketing mail is still an important weapon in their offline marketing arsenal. There’s not much that can match the effectiveness and efficiency of a well-designed and carefully written direct marketing mail package and the true student of direct response marketing is constantly on the lookout for little tweaks that will give them a bump in response to make more sales and generate more leads.

Today I want to focus on an often over-looked, left to the last minute component of many direct marketing mail packages – the envelope. If you were to study any of the great direct mail marketers, each will reaffirm the critical importance of the design and look of your envelopes and how certain design principles can result in very profitable increases in response.

If you were to ask any layperson what the purpose of the envelope is and they will typically say its job is to hold your mailings contents together and get them delivered as you intended without them getting lost or damaged.

And they would be right. This would be the “physical” job of the envelope (and an important one at that), but it would not be the answer we marketers are focused on. Ask any sharp marketer what the purpose of an envelope is and he or she will tell you it’s to ensure the recipient notices your direct marketing mail and opens it immediately.

This is what your envelopes must do and in today’s world with all of the junk mail that we receive, this is no small task. Whole books have been written about envelope design and strategy and if you’re so inclined I would suggest you seek out books written by Dick Benson, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Denny Hatch, and Dan Kennedy.

If you don’t have the time or interest, you’re still in luck because I am going to give you several useful and easy-to-use strategies for ensuring your envelopes are getting ripped open immediately.

Two Envelope Design Strategies

There are two basic strategies you can employ when designing your envelopes. The first is what I call the positive recognition strategy. This strategy is designed to result in an “Oh, it’s from your-name-here and I need to open it” response.

This strategy works when you have a relationship with your recipients and that relationship alone is enough to get them to open the envelope (thought you may still want to use several of the envelope booster strategies I mention below).

The second strategy is to arouse significant curiosity from your recipient with your direct marketing mail piece. This strategy can be used with any type of market, cold or warm and it taps into one of the strongest human emotions – curiosity – to get them to open your envelope.

There are different ways you can arouse significant curiosity with your direct marketing mail envelopes, including:

• The envelope that carries a promise
• The important-looking envelope
• The questioning envelope
• The tell-all envelope
• The blind envelope

There are certain parameters that need to be considered when and how to use one of these styles of envelopes and to see examples of each of these, watch this video:

Direct Marketing Mail: 10 Smart Envelope Boosters

Regardless of which of the two design strategies you use, there are several “envelope boosters” you can use on your envelope to get the attention of the recipient and practically guarantee they will open it immediately.

These envelope booster strategies are all concerned with “the look” of your envelopes and what you are doing on them to grab attention and yield response. Each is easy to use and anybody reading this article can and should use all of them when designing their envelopes.

1. Fun, live postal stamps – actual first class stamps get more response than bulk rate stamps. Consider using special edition, fun stamps to get more attention.
2. Use both sides – printing on both sides of the envelope can be a smart strategy to get your envelopes to stand out from the rest. Consider adding photos or testimonials to the other side so they will be seen as the envelope is being opened.
3. Non-paper envelopes – there are several alternatives to traditional paper envelopes, including translucent, mirror, linen, denim and clear envelopes.
4. Unique envelope shapes – consider sending your next direct marketing mailing in a unique sized envelope that stands out from all the #10 and 9 x 12 envelopes that fill your mail box. One size I like to use is the invitation sized envelope to send personalized mailings.
5. Colored envelopes – a smart strategy to tie into the time of year or an upcoming holiday (e.g. red envelopes for Valentines Day). There are just as many envelope colors as there are sizes and materials.
6. Tease with CopyDoodles® – using handwritten fonts and doodles and teaser copy on your direct marketing mail envelopes helps them stand out and get noticed right away.
7. Alert with CopyStamps – simulated rubber stamps on your envelopes creates a sense of urgency. Like any of these boosters, these should be used within the correct context of your entire mailing.
8. Engage with CopyComics – Putting cartoons on your direct marketing mail envelopes can be a fun and unique way to engage your recipients, especially when they are personalized to the individual. Check out this video where I show smart ways to use cartoons in your marketing.
9. Fun, quirky elements – In this day and age, anything that stands out from all the plain vanilla marketing is a good thing. There are certain elements you can add to your envelopes to make them appear as one-off and individualized as possible.
10. Unique photos – I love using fun, unique photos on envelopes. Photos are proven attention-grabbers and should be used in your direct marketing mail design arsenal.

For more details on these 10 envelope boosters and to see examples of each, please check out this video:

I hope this article has opened your eyes to the rather important job your envelopes have and the major part they play in getting maximum response out of your direct marketing mail campaigns. Your envelopes should not be an afterthought when it comes to creating profitable and response boosting direct marketing mail.

If you would like to discover more ways that your marketing can stand out with the use of CopyDoodles and copy cosmetics, check out our Copy Boosting Profits Secrets Course and our CopyDoodles Best Practices Webinar Series!

About Mike Capuzzi

Mike is a publisher, Amazon # best-selling author, and coach for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders looking to stand out from the competition by authoring, publishing and leveraging short, helpful books. He is the author of 19 books, including two Amazon #1 Best Sellers. Learn more about his publishing opportunities at


  1. Ryan Barnes on August 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Mike, Perhaps you left off the most important Booster of them all. Personalized envelopes, craft an individual message, graphic, offer etc on the delivery vehicle, the envelope, based on your data.

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