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Marketing Mojo

Getting your marketing into the right hands is one thing. Getting those hands to actually O-P-E-N your envelope = ahhhhhhh, success. Try these 5 tips.

5 Copywriting Tips to Get Your
Envelopes Opened

By Bob Cargill

You have a fantastic product or service that you just know people will love. Or you’re a nonprofit organization that is raising funds for a noble cause. You’ve produced a beautiful brochure. And your letter is certainly compelling. Once you’ve made your case to your audience, chances are they will respond immediately to what you have to offer.

Now you just have to convince those on the receiving end to open the envelope of your direct mail package. And with each American household receiving approximately 1,000 pieces of promotional mail a year – from catalogs to credit card solicitations, magazine subscription offers to fundraising appeals – you need to do everything you can to stand out among all the clutter and command the attention of your recipients. You need to put the right words on your envelope.

Here are 5 ways you can use copy to increase the chances of your envelopes being opened by your audience …

1. Use the word, “free.” Everybody likes to receive something for nothing. “Free” is a magic word. Seriously, it’s almost impossible to resist opening up an envelope when you’re told there’s a free offer of some sort inside. Your free offer could be a relatively inexpensive, up-front premium such as a nice bookmark, a set of name and address labels, a notepad, a poster, or an informational pamphlet with a high perceived value that is easy to produce and include in an envelope. Or it could be a back-end premium that gives people added incentive to respond such as a free gift (tote bag, calendar, bumper sticker, water bottle, T-shirt, etc.) with every order or donation.
2. Ask a question. If you ask the right question on your envelope, one that is aligned with your audience’s interests and desires, many of those reading it will be compelled to open it to find the answer inside. People are curious. That’s human nature. For instance, you could include a few true or false questions on your envelope, challenging readers to test their knowledge of something related to what you have to offer, leaving them with no other option than to open the envelope for the answers.
3. Add a sense of urgency. Everyone is busy. Attention spans are short. People are distracted in so many ways nowadays. The truth is, it’s simply too easy to look at a piece of mail and either toss it in the trash or set it aside to look at later. To overcome the odds of your mail being ignored, try including a deadline on the envelope or words to that effect such as “immediate reply requested” or “RSVP ASAP.” Doing so will help prompt some of those who are on the fence about responding to act right away.
4. Promise a solution. What’s in it for me? That’s what your readers care about. They want to know what you can do for them. How will opening your envelope make their lives better in some way, shape or form. Anticipate what they are looking for and give it to them in writing in your outer envelope teaser copy.
5. Leverage popular culture, or “newsjack.” How can you associate your offer with the top stories in the news? What can you do to make your mailing appear especially relevant, topical and current? To “newsjack” is to tie your product or service to a big news event in some way in order to attract more attention. Look at the calendar. Plan ahead. What major sporting events, national holidays, new movie releases and the like might you be able to incorporate, even subtly, into the copy on your envelope? It doesn’t have to be national news, either. As long as it’s news to your audience (a huge trade show, perhaps), mentioning it on your envelope will help increase your open rate.

About the Author: Bob Cargill is a professional Copywriter, Creative Director and Social Media Consultant who runs Cargill Creative and a popular blog. He’s won more than 40 copywriting and direct marketing awards, and was named "Direct Marketer of the Year" for 2009 by the New England Direct Marketing Association.