Top Ten Envelope Tests to Increase Response

If you’re contemplating a cost-effective test without re-designing a whole new package, consider testing a new envelope. Donor’s open envelopes based on what they look like and what they say. It can make or break your entire direct mail campaign.  So today, we’re sharing with you the top 10 envelope tests which help increase response.


  • Envelope size – A larger outside envelope oftentimes leads to higher response rates. Try this approach with your most responsive donors and high dollar donors.

Closed Face

  • Closed-face envelope with a handwritten font – While more expensive, this type of approach works well with high-dollar donors.


  • Double window envelope – A great way to showcase colorful premiums like address labels and greeting cards. Many times, the expense pays off. For larger premiums, such as tote bags and calendars, try testing a polybag mailer.


  • Different envelope stock – Oftentimes different stock motivates prospects and donors to open the envelope just because it’s different, making the appeal eye-catching in the mailbox. Think about testing brown Kraft, full color, glossy or cardboard stocks.


  • Live stamps – Make your mailings more personal by adding a live stamp to the outside envelope rather than an indicia. They have been shown to increase response rates. Even though there will be an extra cost to affix it to the outside envelope, the higher response and often times higher average gift with keep your cost per dollar raised in check. This is also a great time to test a live stamp on your reply envelope.

Corner Card

  • What does your corner card look like? Try testing your organization’s name against “From the Office of the President.” Create a colorful mock label or your organization’s Presidential seal if you have one. Sometimes, putting your return address on the back flap, rather than in the corner can increase percent response also.

Teaser Copy

  • Envelope teaser copy is an inexpensive and effective way to pique donor interest.


  • Images can oftentimes increase results. Try featuring a photograph on the outside envelope of someone your organization helped. Tie the image with compelling teaser copy.


  • Seasonal and holiday touches such as pumpkins, flowers and snowflakes can make outer envelopes more engaging to the donor during certain times of the year especially if you tie it in with your organization’s brand.


  • Redesign your outside envelope without sacrificing your brand. A new graphic or color can go a long way when competing with other mail in a donor’s mailbox.

I’ve had success revitalizing direct mail acquisition packages by using different paper stock and a series of colored outside envelopes.  Oftentimes, the same donor is targeted through different lists and a burst of color can be enough to intrigue a prospect and get them to finally donate to your cause.

If you want donors to open your direct mail package, it’s worth thinking through the strategic approach and details of your outer envelope.

I hope you enjoyed these 10 tips!  Let me know what works for you and share with us your trials and tribulations with envelope tests.

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