Creating effective envelopes doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. To the contrary, it means understanding your audience and offer and then creating an appropriate fit. Here’s how to ensure that recipients welcome your next envelope package.


  • Ensure your envelope is at least ¼” larger than the inserts.
  • Put your company name on the envelope if you’re confident it will cause a positive reaction from recipients—otherwise leave it off.
  • Match images, graphics and copy appropriately to your audience.
  • Use postage stamps if possible, especially for small mailings or anything that requires a personal touch.
  • Use metered mail as a second choice, but avoid the dreaded indicia—studies show that Fortune 500 companies route 30% of Standard Mail to the wastebasket immediately.
  • Personalize—that can mean anything from variable-data messaging to using a legible script font or actual handwriting—non-profits read this again.
  • Include teaser copy that is compelling, intriguing and invites curiosity.
  • Test envelope color, size, style and paper—differences might attract people who pitched a mailing before.
  • Consider an enclosure that creates an envelope lump—people can’t resist them, but be aware that it will add to postage costs.
  • Play the angles—an angled teaser line or even a slightly angled stamp can make your envelope get noticed.


  • Use form letter or bill formats—they typically either get tossed or put with the bills.
  • Use a window envelope—possible exceptions are if it’s the only way to get killer personalization inside or if it’s a full view that shows a compelling graphic.
  • Put your offer on the envelope—especially to a cold list.
  • Underestimate the power of envelope tone—official, fun, etc.
  • Neglect to plan well in advance if you want to use a specialty envelope—custom envelopes take longer to produce.
  • Address your B2B mail to generic titles if at all possible—nothing screams mass mail louder than generics.
  • Skimp on any element of address accuracy—Cathy with a “C” might tune you out in a heartbeat if you spell her name with a “K.”
  • Dupe recipients into thinking your envelope contains something it doesn’t—tone needs to fit the actual contents.
  • Use statements like “Open Immediately”—see above.
  • Forget to order 5–10% more envelopes than you need—you’ll likely lose some in setup.
  • Time your mail to arrive on Monday, the heaviest mail day of the week—aim for Tuesday, the lightest day, or Wednesday, the second lightest.

By Larry Bauer

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