Graphic: Variable color envelopes
Consumers are expecting communications from companies with which they do business to be relevant and personalized. A bulk mailing approach is no longer the best way to achieve the response and conversion rates necessary to make printed communications worthwhile. One area often overlooked by campaign designers are the envelopes in which the personalized messages are inserted. Print/mail service providers can add value to campaigns by extending personalization and relevancy to the envelopes.

When an organization spends money on mail to promote their brand or generate leads they expect the channel to live up to its legendary performance levels. In their latest study, the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) measures direct mail response rates at 9%; far better than email, social media, or paid search. An investment in mail can be lucrative when the mailing is well planned and marketers compose enticing offers-but only if targeted recipients read the marketing messages sent to them.

How to Increase Response Rates
Mailers don’t achieve 9% response rates automatically. Success at this level requires plenty of work. The most spectacular personalized and targeted material is worthless unless mail recipients open the envelopes and extract the pages. This is where print/mail service providers can add value to their client’s campaigns.

The job of an envelope, besides safely transporting material to the intended destination, is to get opened. Neglecting to recognize the critical role envelopes play in campaign success can be the difference between achieving responses in the nine percent range and a experiencing a disappointing result.

In the past, mailers tackled this challenge by ordering envelopes printed with bright colors, graphics, or teaser text. These methods work, but with one big drawback-the envelopes are all the same. The teasers or artwork must be generic enough to pique the interest of all the prospects on the mailing list.

Of course the targeted individuals and households are not all the same. They may be in different age groups, ethnic backgrounds, or be geographically dispersed across the country. Every customer’s buying history may be unique. Their product interests are varied. The pre-printed envelopes may attract attention but they do little to let each mail recipient know the marketer has chosen the message inside to be personally relevant. That’s a shame because, with increasing frequency, companies are carefully composing the inside content according dozens of demographic or psychographic data points. When envelopes have a mass-market appearance, customers or prospects may never see the material in which the mailer has invested so much effort.

Variable Data Color Printing
The solution to this dilemma is to make the envelopes as customized as the inside material. To do that, you’ll need high speed inkjet printers attached to mail inserters or other finishing machines. These print devices, driven by scanned barcodes and data files, place relevant and personalized full-color images and text on the material as it exits the equipment.

Printing variable data on the outside of envelopes is a potential new revenue stream for print/mail service providers. This strategy increases the value of your clients’ mail campaigns, aids in customer retention, and can lead to additional work.

Envelope printing provides a slew of benefits for mail service providers and their clients. We’ve written an entire book on the subject, which describes how print and mail service providers can take advantage of envelope printing. In the book mailers can learn how to use devices such as our iDataPrint™ H500 ColorSpeed CMYK system to differentiate themselves from the competition and charge clients for this value-add service that boosts open rates.

We’ve put all our ideas about how print and mail companies can take advantage of the capabilities of variable data full color envelopes into our free eBook. Just use the button below to download.