Every week, I find at least one envelope from a bank, nonprofit, or other organization in my mailbox. These letters get one glance before they are tossed in the trash. Your copy will get the same amount of consideration when it ends up on front steps and mailboxes.
How can you make sure your copy avoids being tossed out? Envelope teaser copy is one way to capture interest and give the interior copy a fighting chance.
What is an Envelope Teaser?
Envelope teasers are short, intriguing phrases, sentences, or slogans on the exterior of a piece of direct mail.
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into the contents of the envelope if it never gets opened. A successful teaser gives recipients a reason to open your envelope.
When Should You Use an Envelope Teaser?
Envelope teasers go hand-in-hand with direct mail. Really, another name for them could be direct mail teaser copy.
Also known as advertising mail, direct mail is used by businesses, nonprofits, charities, and other organizations to communicate with buyers who are already part of their direct mailing list. They may also send it to potential buyers as part of a direct mail campaign.
What Makes for a Good Envelope Teaser?
There are several things to consider if you want to write effective envelope teaser copy.
Before sitting down to write your teaser you should consider what function or goal you want it to fulfill. This will most likely be informed by the nature of the direct mail copy inside.
Here are some examples of functions your teaser copy could serve:
● Describing the envelope’s contents.
● Pose a question to the reader.
● Pique interest.
● Challenge the reader.
● Create a sense of urgency.
● Start a story.
● Offer a benefit.
Personalize Your Teaser
Just as people hate getting automated calls, they won’t want to open a letter if your teaser feels like it was written by a machine. Your goal should be to create a teaser that feels personal and appeals to the reader’s social animal.
All humans experience fear, sadness, and love. Tapping into these emotions with your teaser is a great way to personalize your letter.
Start a Story on the Outside
People are narrative animals as well. You can begin a story with your teaser the direct mail copy inside finishes.
You could tease a specific donor’s motivation, a life directly improved, or an individual hardship. Empathy is a powerful force and can be awakened in a reader with human stories.
Use Interesting Facts and Quotes
Along with personalizing your letters, you can make them more interesting to a reader with thought-provoking facts or quotes.
For instance, did you know that a cloud can weigh more than a thousand pounds? A seemingly unbelievable fact or quote will pique interest and encourage people to read on inside.
Avoid Trite Sayings
Above all, you should avoid using trite or routine phrases for your teaser copy. Everyone has received mail saying “open immediately’, “urgent mail”, or “just for you.”
No teaser is better than a bland one!
More Than Just the Teaser
Words are integral to creating a compelling teaser, but they are far from the only thing you should concern yourself with when developing your envelope teaser copy.
Jerry Huntsinger highlights how everything about your envelope, not just the teaser, can affect how likely a recipient is to open it. The postage, envelope size, being closed or open-faced, and the placement of a client logo all play a role.
The exterior direct mail teaser copy, packaging, and interior copy should all be designed around each other as part of a cohesive marketing strategy.
Do Teasers Work?
There are conflicting opinions in the freelance community on whether you should use teasers.
While envelope teaser copy can increase the chances someone will open your envelope, it also immediately tells a reader it is promotional mail. This is not necessarily always a bad thing, but it places your letter in the same boat as dozens of other promotional material stuffed into mailboxes daily.
Leaving an envelope without a teaser can sometimes intrigue readers more than any teaser will. You’ll have to decide which suits your goals more in the context of the interior copy.
Test Before Trying
Envelope teaser copy is incredibly dependent on testing before being mailed. Most likely, you will have to run your teaser through various stages of testing before you can confidently know whether it will be effective.