Why Your Outer Envelope Matters in Direct Mail Campaigns

By: Andrew Glover
May 8, 2020

The outer envelope is every bit as important as the contents within it. It’s the headline of your direct mail. It doesn’t matter what materials are inside if no one opens your envelope. The outer envelope is like an introductory handshake or the display window of a store. Your envelope presents who you are and what you are about while encouraging your prospect to want to know more information. Designing a compelling envelope can mean the difference between a successful direct mail campaign and one that falls flat.

The Importance of an Outer Envelope

If your audience’s first impression of your direct mail campaign is a dull, bland outer envelope, recipients may not bother to open the envelope at all. Most people are well-versed in what type of envelopes they should open as a priority, and those that are advertising a product or service. And most will simply toss any envelope that they consider non-essential without even a glance at the content inside, if that envelope doesn’t have a design or features that compel them to open it.

Your outer envelope needs to instantly invoke a positive reaction. Your direct mail campaign will have significantly better response rates when your mailers are opened and read by your entire audience.

Outer Envelope Tips

In a sea of other mail, a stunning envelope design ensures your piece gets noticed. Direct mail writers and designers may even want to create the outer envelope first and use it to jumpstart the rest of the creative process. Generic direct mail won’t work on today’s recipients. Your organization can use customized messages, four-color printing, and other embellishments to entice readers to open your mailer.

Here are a few of our favorite methods for increasing response rates through outer envelope design.

Size and Shape

Think outside the box when you are designing your outer envelope. Make your envelope stand out among the crowd of mailers in a person’s mailbox. Different sizes and shapes may cost more to mail than standard sizes, but they have a greater potential to significantly increase your ROI. With small batch testing, you can experiment with different designs and see what spurs the most positive responses from your prospects and members.


A classic white works for many applications, but using your brand’s colors adds personality and gives members a visual preview of your content and immediate brand recognition. Embellish your envelopes by adding special touches like foil stamping or featuring an anniversary or warranty seal. Incorporate bold, contrasting colors into your envelope design or include an intriguing photo or artwork design. Your audience is more drawn to your message when your outer envelope stands out and is eye-catching.


For your higher-end mail pieces, you should consider incorporating a textured paper stock for your outer envelope. Finishing techniques like a soft-touch varnish or UV spot coating can add a unique tactile appeal and align with your brand perception.

Use Both Sides

You don’t know which side a person will view first. Make sure both sides of your envelope are equally compelling. Use a persuasive hook message or a teaser promotion with attention-grabbing phrases that increase the recipient’s curiosity. Placing a teaser on the outer envelope entices readers to open your envelope.

You can ask a question, make a statement, or give your offer right on either side of the envelope. You can also place your call-to-action on either side of the envelope, which can encourage your readers to open the piece. These are great ways to create desire before your prospects even read your marketing content.

Designing an Outer Envelope with Valtim

Valtim can help your organization with its next outer envelope design. Our talented professionals will help you find the right option for your budget while helping you improve your response rates. The more intriguing your outer envelope is, the more likely your prospective members are to open the material and read the message within. We also provide many other direct mail services, including printing, envelope stuffing, and mailing.

Reach out to Valtim to get started on your next outer envelope design.

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