Printed Envelopes: Get Personal with Your Marketing Strategy

Traditional mail is one of the oldest forms of media the public has been exposed to, and an early marketing tool for businesses worldwide.

The following is a guide on how to get the most out of one hugely important part of any letter — the envelope.

purely-tv-imageLong before e-mail marketing, television ads or even commercial radio advertising, the morning mail was a regular feature on people’s doorsteps. These letters may have simply been gas bills, tax demands or wage cheques, but you can be sure that they were accompanied by a logo, insignia or message from the organisation concerned.

This may seem a far cry from the blanket advertising that today’s businesses use to make their presence felt…….but it worked along the same lines — get yourself seen, create an authority, place yourself in the minds of the public so you are the first thing they think of when faced with a choice of services.

Why choose mail?

Over the last 20 years there has been a huge sea change in the way advertising is directed at customers. The ushering in of the digital age has seen the advent of e-mail marketing, pay-per-click advertising and the always-welcome pop-up ad. Effective though these are, they have had the unfortunate result of alienating some customers from the businesses that were hoping to win them over — and from advertising in general.


This has in turn led to a sense of detachment towards digital media that can result in e-mails and other forms of communications being ignored. For this reason, many firms are now turning back to the humble letter as a means of generating sales leads.

Purely Digital makes envelope marketing a quick and easy option. Print runs of between 50 and 500 are optimal for more targeted marketing strategies, though larger runs can also be easily accommodated. And with print runs taking an average of 3 to 5 days — or sooner if necessary — you have the ability to launch a marketing plan with little delay.

Research from Royal Mail MarketReach found that:

  • Mail can make you feel valued. People are all too aware that e-mails are the cheaper option, while a dedicated letter (especially in a personalised envelope) gives the impression that care and effort has been involved.
  • Letters convey gravitas. Around 63% of people feel information that comes in the form of a letter is taken more seriously. Of those questioned, only 18% felt the same about e-mail.
  • Postal communication improves image. Around 55% of people said the use of a letter can give a better overall impression of a company than sending an e-mail. Only 25% thought the reverse was true.
  • People are more likely to respond to mail than either e-mail or television. Neurological studies found that people respond better to mail than e-mail and television in terms of: engagement, emotional intensity and long-term memory coding.

How do these feelings translate in a home setting? MarketReach also found that:

  • 39% of people set aside a dedicated area in which they display their mail so it can be acted upon. This could be a stand by the door, a mantelpiece or the dining room table.
  • 23% of all mail is passed around the different members of a household.
  • 21% of company promotions are shared with all the occupants of a home.


With such prominence given to the mail that lands on doorsteps, it pays to make company post stand out and be noticed. This encourages sharing and discussion, which promotes your business and helps to cement it in the minds of consumers as a reliable port of call.

For B2B clients, increasing the visibility of your mail

Why use personalised envelopes?

In these times of mass messaging and blanket communications, post is not always treated in the manner it was 40 years ago. There is somewhat of a ruthless element to the disposal of post, with many recipients taking only a quick glance before deciding either to ‘inspect or reject’.

How can you make your mail stand out from all the rest? The best way is to ditch the plain white envelope and utilise both sides as free space to make your message pop! The surface of your envelope is a ready-made ad area that can be used to convey messages, statistics and offers right into the home of potential or existing customers.

Purely Digital has expertise in producing printed envelopes for a wide range of uses. Some of the most popular examples include:

  • Special occasion invites
  • Corporate events
  • Company promotions
  • Introductory letters for new invites

But this is not a new idea, and much of the public has learned to filter what they may see as time-wasting post.

So what can you do to slip your mail under this radar of suspicion? One strategy that has proved extremely effective is to use personalised envelopes. These allow you to use any data you may have gained from market research or buying habits to target specific individuals with offers and product ranges that you already know they will be interested in.

What’s the big deal about personalised envelopes?

Tailoring mail to a specific person allows you to:

  • Make a strong first impression. If this mail is going out to a potential customer it may be the first contact you make with that person. Start strong, as first impressions do count.
  • Use one-to-one messaging. Reacting to the needs of a potential customer shows a degree of effort that can’t fail to impress. Personalised marketing around products of interest is more likely to be well received, rather than resented as an intrusion.
  • Stand out from the crowd. Many businesses have yet to catch on to this marketing gem. Be the first in your sector use such a technique and you’ll make a lasting impression.
  • Brighten someone’s day. Post does not always bring good news, with the result that some people end up suffering from ‘letter dread’. By offering interesting information or a quirky message, you will see householders brush away their tax bills and bank statement in order to pick up a bit of cheer at the beginning of the day.


And how can you achieve personalised envelopes? The trick to all this wizardry is variable data printing.

Variable data printing

Gone are the days when the only choice you had for your envelope was gummed or self-sealed. By using the latest computer software combined with unique variable data, printers can personalise envelopes with almost anything a company can think of. Marketing departments use a number of techniques to collect this data, including:

  • Surveys: Both e-mail and street-level surveys allow you to pose any question you like in order to glean as much information as possible.
  • Point-of-sale collection: In-store employees can be tasked with collecting e-mail addresses or asking a series of simple questions that can be used to build your customer’s profile.
  • Call centres: When customers come to you for information, it provides the perfect opportunity to ask some questions back. If you’re smart, you will have established a process of integrating this information directly into you digital marketing strategy.

Now that you have the information, it is only a matter of deciding how best to use it.

Unlike traditional offset printing — which can add individualised address labels to large print runs but does little else in terms of variety — variable data printing uses digital technology to direct the print run as you see fit.

How to personalise your envelope

Firstly, there are a number of physical attributes you can decide on in order to make your mail stand out. These include:

  • Size: Sometimes less is more. A small envelope might intrigue and delight. Alternatively, something big may dominate your post and be the first thing people reach for.
  • Shape: Long and thin, large and square, curved or angular, digital printing can cope with any eventuality and help you stand out in a sea of standard rectangles.
  • Texture: This is a little-used variable that can make a real impact on householders as they absently sort through their morning mail.
  • The other side: Digital printing means both sides are fair game for information. One option is to use the front for the standard address and postage, with an added message included. Then the back can carry the return address and a call to action. Another tack is to place all the address information and postage on the back, leaving the front as a clean space for imagery and product data.

Making an impact

For high-end corporate customers, Purely Digital offers a selection of eye-catching finishes, such as:

  • Embossed — produces a sumptuous textured feel
  • Foil — sets words and logos apart using silver and gold effect

For printed envelopes, paper quality of 170gsm is recommended. This grade of paper produces pristine quality envelopes that are perfect for corporate invitations and company promotions.

Purely Digital has the facilities to print any size of rectangular envelope up to C5 (16.2 cm x 22.9 cm). However, with a little extra cost, a bespoke cutter (much like a mould) can be produced in order to create interesting and uniquely shaped designs.

Pat Friesen, columnist for Target Marketing magazine, says there are hots spots on an envelope to which the eye is drawn. One such place is the top-left corner. With clever use of data and graphics, you can direct the reader’s eye where you want — hopefully to the contact details of your business.


Secondly, and all importantly, now is your chance to fully utilise the envelope and propagate it with information designed to catch the attention of the recipient. This can include:

  • Specified keywords: This is the time to use all that data to address your recipient directly. Target offers to what you know about the person and their interests.
  • Strong headline: Make it clear and bold, don’t opt for cryptic. You only have a second to make an impact so don’t make your recipient have to work to understand your message or it may end in the bin. Tell them what they have to gain. Another option is to pose a question and give a solution: Let them know you have the answers.
  • Bullet point information: This can include what the company can do for them, proven results, well-known clients, information on how long the company has been running, and how many people it has helped; anything to build credibility and trust.
  • Sub-header on the back: Don’t be afraid to follow on from the information you present on the front. Make every square inch of the envelope work for you.
  • Graphics: Images, info graphics, amusing cartoons. Pique the interest of the recipient — a picture of a Formula One racing car for a motoring enthusiast; offers on motorised lawnmowers for a keen gardener; simply their name in a bold and interesting font. All will work to grab their attention.
  • Teasers: Let them know what is inside, especially if it is a coupon, offer or something to read that might be of interest to them specifically.
  • Call to action: Tell them what to do next, clearly and unambiguously. If there is an easy route to the products or services, the recipient is more likely to follow it.

The personalised envelope is a strong, physical marketing device that can make your communications stand out. With little effort, you can target your message directly to prospective customers in an effective, informative and entertaining way. And by being a little bit clever about it, you can predict what goods or services they may be after, and supply them with tangible information that won’t disappear at the touch of a button.

For more information on what you can achieve with digital printing, go to our Digital Print page.

To find out more about Purely Digital’s printed envelopes service, go to our Personalised Envelopes page.


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