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How to Design a Must-Open Envelope: 5 Easy Tips

Over the past year or two, Discover Card has sent direct mail in envelopes that are truly revolutionary in design. Since they’ve been utilizing direct mail for years, why would they spend so much of their budget on envelopes? Why not spend it instead on the promotional materials inside?

Simple. They found customers are more likely to open—and respond to—materials sent in an envelope that dazzles the eye. Such an envelope makes the recipient feel special or part of a select group, much like being a member of a club or team.

Following their expert lead, here are a few ways to approach the design of your next direct mail campaign envelope!

1. Stand Apart from the Crowd

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When utilizing an unusual substrate such as fresnel lens holographic paper, the best approach is often the easiest. Make the substrate the hero.

Discover Card printed a full bleed of red ink on top of the holography, but without any hits of opaque white underneath, so the full effect of the refracted light from the fresnel lens shone through. Its bright colors and unusual special effects help this piece stand apart from similar mailings sent in less visually arresting envelopes.

2. Make Your Customer Feel Like a Million Bucks

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As symbols of prosperity, luxury, and success for centuries, metallics may be the most effective of all the colors. Metallic silver and gold embellishments on a direct mail envelope imply that the information contained within is prize-worthy, or may even make the recipient rich beyond their wildest imaginings.

3. Match the Design to your Audience

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Geometric designs are trending with Zoomers (Generation Z). So it’s no surprise that college students (the demographic for this campaign) would find this cyan-to-magenta blend on geometric holographic paper intriguing.

No doubt this envelope got noticed—and opened—by a far greater percentage of recipients than if it had been sent in a plain, white one.

4. Impress Your Audience with Artistry

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This crimson floral illustration is beautifully enhanced by hits of a high-gloss spot UV that contrast against unprinted areas. These unprinted areas reveal the silver metallic paper underneath. In this instance, the special effects complement the floral illustration, transforming this commercial design into a work of art.

5. Mimic what Works

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In the world of design, nothing is ever truly new. So when you stumble across a successful technique, many companies are not shy about mimicking its most successful elements.

In this instance, Citi Bank did just that. With a nod to Discover’s holographic direct mail campaigns, Citi Bank recently started printing their envelopes on highly reflective (and eye-catching) silver metalized paper.