7 Envelope Design Ideas to Increase your Direct Mail conversion.
Being the first thing that is seen, the design of your envelope can more often than not be considered just as important as what is actually inside. Envelope design is similar to that of a first impression. In many cases, it can be the make or break point of the success of your marketing campaign. That is why envelope design ideas are important for your direct mail campaign.
The decision of the customer to either open the envelope directly, leave it unopened on a table for some time, or worst-case scenario, dispose of it, depends on a variety of factors including the design of your envelope. On the other hand, in addition to an effective design process, marketers must consider several other factors such as strategy, budgeting, target audience, right down to suppliers. It is easy to see, that in such times marketers can sometimes overlook these aspects of effective envelope design.
That being said, a well designed envelope is a great way to make a lasting first impression and improve your direct mail campaign ROI. Therefore, we have gathered 7 envelope design ideas that you can use to improve the success of your direct mail campaign.
1. Designs that create Trust and Authenticity
In today’s world, people are more conscious and looking for confirmation that the sender is indeed who they say they are and not a scam. Therefore it is now more important than ever to avoid the ‘physical trash box’ and put everything that is relevant in direct view so that it can be quickly seen and reviewed. This helps the recipients clarify if the mail is actually for them and if it is in their interest. A simple way to build trust with the recipient is by including the 4 fundamental elements that all envelope designs should have as bare minimum: Company logo, Brand Identity, Contact credentials and Sender details.
The company logo
The company logo is just that, the symbol or logotype that is used by your organization as a seal of recognition. Just having a salient logo is however not enough. Using your logo in a consistent way creates recognition and establishes trust in the minds of the recipient.
The brand identity s a bit more abstract. Rather than just the symbol, it is more about how you portray the visual identity you have as a company across your marketing channels. This is also a good practice to generate authenticity by repeating your brand identity across printed materials.
Contact credentials is all the necessary information that is needed to ensure that there is a smooth transit between you and the intended target audience. Clear and visible contact credentials will also guarantee that the recipient knows that the mail is actually intended for them.
The goal is to connect with the recipient with a point of contact that relates to you as a sender. This means an actual address instead of a post office box. Not only will this authenticate your mail campaign, it will also allow the recipient to see your product or service as a valuable solution to a likely problem. By adding the address and opening hours of the closest or most frequently used store, you are able to achieve a greater level of attention from your customer.
Additionally, there will also be some things you must keep in mind in terms of direct mail formalities. Your chosen currier will have recommended placement standards for the address, return address and postal cost indicia on all envelope sizes. Nothing will be worse than a beautifully designed envelope that the post office is not able to send. Knowing this prior to making a decision can help you choose the right envelope design ideas for your direct mail campaign. That is why at Postana’s marketing automation platform all these direct mail prerequisites are integrated into the design templates to make it easier for you.
2. Apply color to increase conversion
Color is an important element of every design and therefore also important for your envelope when looking at launching a direct mail campaign. The first step in deciding on your envelope design is to select a color palette. More often than not, these colors are determined by your brand and your current marketing campaign. People tend to associate specific concepts and emotions with specific colors. Keeping this in mind when selecting a color palette, every color can be used to trigger a desired response in your target audience. Outlined below are color considerations when looking at envelope design ideas.
Male vs Female Color Separation
Know your audience. When thinking about your envelope design and deciding which colors to use, it is important not to fall victim to common mistakes. Many designers fall into the trap of arguably the most common mistake: The pink vs blue fallacy or girl vs boy myth. Based on research, the most popular color amongst all genders is blue – in effect proving its universality. Martech created an outstanding infographic breaking down color preferences – including for things like saturation, pairings and psychological associations – between genders. Aside from this, we have curated a few color choices and their associated subconscious motivations.
The color of sophistication, times elegance and prestige. Black can be used by brands as a canvas to hero an item or product – black creates a superior focus on the product itself as its the only thing that is lit. Too much black, however, and your envelope design might start to look gloomy and oppressive. But in case you want to use it abundantly, it can help to create a strong contrast.
The color of trust, calm and productivity. Blue tends to be calming and clean, and most importantly comes across as consistent. Blue brands are brands that are trusted; one of the most important factors in consumer decision making, so when making the choice of which emotion to trigger, blue is a strong emotional instigator.
The color of positivity, relaxation and growth. Green can be used by brands that wish to promote reliability and abundance. Perfect examples of this includes Landrover, health and nutrition brands and even tech companies like Spotify. Green can also be used as a by-word for the environment. A perfect color choice that supports the global movement of more responsibility, sustainability and environmentally conscious products and concepts.
The color of ambition, warmth and enthusiasm. The more rich the orange hue, the more energized your envelope design will appear. Orange can be a great design choice to emphasise the Call to Action to win over those impulse buyers. If your selling point is low price, then orange is the right choice.
The color of kindness, warmth and love. Pink can be used to be an empowering, surprising choice that displays a sense of fun and confidence.
The color of royalty wealth and status. Purple is a powerful color, and as such, you should use it accordingly in your design. When choosing purple for your envelope design, you need to know that you are sending a powerful message and that it compliments direct marketing campaigns with an element of prestige and quality.
The color of power, energy and passion. Red stands as the color of extremes; whatever is red is exciting. This makes red an interesting envelope design idea as it is very manipulative. Netflix and Youtube use it to fuel appetite for more content, Heinz and Coca-Cola, Marlboro and H&M; the list goes on. Red is an easy way to get your target audience to ACT NOW. Whether it be a call-to-action, a discount, a request, red encourages action and is a great addition to any promotional campaign.
The color of cheer, youth and happiness. Yellow can be used in your direct mail campaign to project optimism and joy. Additionally, because of its brightness, yellow is also a color selection that you can use to grab attention and improve your campaign results. Just as a caution, because of its close resemblance to white, more often than not, you will have to choose an accent color to accompany yellow.
The color of purity, wholesomeness and clarity. Actively leaving your envelope white is also a design choice that you can make. Having white means you have a clear canvas, which can be used to portray simplicity, cleanliness and purity; done by brands such as Apple and dental, healthcare and child service brands.
Now that the impact of color is better understood it is important to remember that no one color is better than the other. The focus should be ensuring your mail piece is recognizable. Your content voice, color palette, and fonts should all mirror one another in order to have a strong call to action.
3. Envelope design ideas with imagery
Based on the above mentioned ideas, there are several choices you can make for your envelope design in terms of colors alone. However this is not the only design choice that should be considered. There are also other aspects of direct mail envelope design that can be explored, such as imagery. Imagery refers to the photographs, graphics, and patterns that are used in the envelope design process. There are four types of imagery that are at your disposal that can easily be included in your envelope design ideas for your direct mail campaign.
A thematic image is any form of imagery that portrays a certain theme. For example, including a beach themed picture in your envelope design as a travel agency, or a vineyard as a wine-estate; all images relate back to the theme of your business or direct mail campaign. Just take a look at the following example of a travel agency company. The picture of the beach directly relays to the theme of the direct mail campaign and the company of being a travel agency. Including the tropic background image adds a lot more visual appeal, whilst also, outlining the intent.
A product image is a recognisable and visually appealing way to clarify the intent of your direct mail campaign and highlight your product. Combining the product image with the right color choice can allow you to create a contrast between the envelope and your ‘hero’ image. Have a look at the envelope design below of a wine distributor. Without the product image, it is at first glance, difficult to immediately know the purpose, intent or product you want to promote with your direct mail campaign. Adding the image of the wine bottle directly clarifies your “hero” product to your target audience, and also adds a contrast to the background image to look more visually appealing.
Another way in which imagery can be incorporated into the envelope design is by using human faces. Photographs of human faces tend to be more engaging, creating a more deeply personal connection with your audience. It’s the same principle that is used to guide clicks on social media platforms; people are more likely to engage with a media that features a real-life person. This is a perfect choice of imagery for any direct mail campaign where you would like your audience to feel a more emotional attachment to the brand. Using a picture of a person also means that it is easily recognizable in other media channels, and is very versatile in terms of cross-platform use. For example, a direct mail campaign in the healthcare sector is a perfect example of how using human faces to create a personal connection can be beneficial. A simple picture of healthcare professionals can completely change the design visuals.
Illustrations and patterns
Whether they are original or generic, are an excellent way to showcase your company’s creative spirit. It is also helpful to use these design elements when you want to include a visual component that cannot be easily recreated with a photograph, or in the absence of a tangible product. Patterns can come in bright colors to draw attention or more subtle colors just to create a unique design; acting as a beautiful envelope design addition that builds towards the direct mail campaign ambience. Being more open to interpretation, an illustration makes it easier to communicate a message without narrowing it down to a single product. Take for example the pattern with the TeaLeaf brand; easily recognizable, yet still open to interpretation. Both the examples of the home interiors and the TeaLeaf show off a sample of an artistic, creative company. This is also where you can consider hiring a freelance illustrator that can make your patterns and illustrations just that much more unique.
4. Add a promotion, call to action or slogan
Text additions in envelope design can come in many forms, including promotions, call to actions or even a company slogan. It is a simple way to add a wow factor to your existing envelope design ideas, and an even easier way to get the attention of your target audience. Text can be added to support both your above-the-line brand marketing as well as below-the-line sales marketing. Take a look at how the following designs are changed with a simple textual addition.
Depending on your business, and the type of direct mail campaign you want to run, you can either choose between above-the-line or below-the-line marketing techniques. If you are starting off, or would really like to start with creating a solid brand strategy, it is important to look at above-the-line promotions. Now, what is above-the-line marketing? Above-the-line marketing is marketing activity that generates awareness and the concept around the company’s brand and its product & service offerings. A subtle way of including above-the-line marketing content in your direct mail campaign is through a slogan; a short and striking or memorable phrase that helps build the concept around your brand in the minds of the target audience. Having a prominent above-the-line marketing strategy makes it easier to talk to and connect with customers. Resonating with them on a deeper level allows you to promote your below-the-line sales offer, as these users already believe in your proposition.
If you already have a clear pre-existing brand strategy, you can look at implementing below-the-line strategies. These marketing tactics, such as a simple, relevant call-to-action or promotions are used to give something beyond the brand message to the recipient – more or less giving a purpose behind why the recipient has received the direct mail. Make sure that your CTA is clear and actionable. An effective CTA is an easy way to answer the questions of “what is in it for me?” or “Why are you sending this to me?”, avoiding the superficial reading and skimming over the message by the recipient.
Delicate balance and interaction
There exists a delicate interplay between above-the-line and below-the-line marketing tactics. You must avoid looking abstract by only using above-the-line messaging, and yet find balance with below-the-line so as to not have customers too focused on the product and its price (price sensitive). What can be done is combining both above-the-line and below-the-line marketing tactics with the right balance to ensure that you relate back to your brand identity, yet convey a purpose of sending the direct mail campaign.
5. Use environmental friendly options
Now that the marketing industry is gravitating towards sustainability and eco-conscious consumerism, a conscious way to create a unique direct mail envelope design idea is to incorporate a method of sustainable differentiation. This can be achieved with a design element such as FSC logo.
What does it mean when you see FSC branding on an envelope? Each label provides information about the origins of the materials used to make the envelope. There are three considerations of FSC labels:
FSC 100% logo
This will indicate to the recipient that all materials used in the product of the envelope are sourced from forests that have been audited by an independent third party to confirm they are managed according to FSC’s rigorous social and environmental standards. FSC 100% is the highest mark of distinction for certified products.
FSC recycled logo
Envelopes that have this certification have been verified as being made from 100% recycled content.
FSC mix logo
Envelopes with this label will indicate to the recipient that you are using a mixture of materials from FSC-certified forests & recycled materials in the production of the envelopes.
To truly understand the value that FSC labeling provides to packaging, you can take a look at the official FSC resource.
6. Envelope design ideas for the backside
It is also important to not forget about the backside of the envelope. We often assume that our target audience will receive the envelope, front-face up and at the right angle, however, this is not always the case. A simple way to overcome this obstacle is to create a creative design for the backside of your envelope. Not only is this another means of differentiation, it also provides you with some additional space for textual additions and graphics. What is often overlooked is the fact that there is much more area to use on the backside of the envelope as the front side is often taken up by the address window. You can even look at going as far as leaving the front blank and generating additional interest in the backside of the envelope; this also means that the recipient is already one step closer to opening the envelope. All in all, back side printing might be a small additional cost, however, has the potential to generate an exponentially greater return on investment.
7. Custom shaped envelopes
When you think of an envelope, you most typically think of the conventionally shaped rectangle with a smaller rectangular cutout. What if I told you that this does not have to be the case? The seventh and final envelope design consideration is looking at the different die-cut shape options that are available and applicable to your direct marketing campaign. A die-cut shape that is non-conventional, such as placing an additional transparent window, can be used to provide a sneak preview of what offer the user can find inside. It can also be used in other creative ways to add a form of differentiation to your direct mail campaign. Ultimately, it provides you with more creative freedom to make your direct mail campaign just that much more exciting and potentially improve its ROI. Take a look at the example template; by slightly altering the envelope shape, it has so much more to your visual design.
Final thought on our 7 envelope design ideas
Ultimately there are no wrong or right design ideas. What matters is finding the balance between visual pleasantries and functionality. These designs are by no means a be all end all of the envelope ideas but rather a gateway to laying the foundation to a more effective and efficient direct mail campaign. The goal here is to use these design elements as stepping stones, testing what works and what does not work, whilst progressing to a more elaborate, complex design.
To make it easier, these 7 ideas have been ranked in terms of difficulty and implementability and placed in a sequential order. This means that idea 4 will not work when idea 1 is not in place. Just as much as idea 7 cannot come before idea 2. The best promotions and call-to-actions will not succeed without first establishing trust and authenticity nor will an environmentally conscious message succeed without appropriate color choices. So, make sure to take these 7 envelope design ideas into account when you want to increase the conversion of your next direct mail campaign.
Many of the design examples shown in this article can be found in our free envelope template library to give you a head start with your own campaign.
Alex van Zyl
Freelance Content Writer
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