Creativity on the outside


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A senior marketer made a most enlightening remark to us the other week. She asked why… considering the effort that goes into analysis, insight and segmentation… and in view of the funds devoted to brilliant creative ideas… Why do most direct mail campaigns hide that effort, intelligence and creativity inside a plain white envelope?

She was right. Many, if not most, campaigns suffer from an ‘assumption of opening’. In relation to prospecting email, the assumption is correct. Most prospecting email is deleted without opening. Whereas more than two thirds of all direct mail is opened – according to Direct Mail Information Service studies. However, that means a third never sees the light of day – representing a considerable wastage rate. Surely, then, the market is crying out for creativity on the outside of the envelope as well as within.

Some diehards will argue that not knowing what is inside the envelope increases open rates. So what, we say. Even if this is true, if the content is not relevant to the recipient, then there will no commercial outcome – they won’t respond or buy. On the other hand, if someone is being told about the content before they open it, then open rates are increased amongst the most important subsegment – interested parties who are actively in buying mode. In other words, it gets more of the right people to open the mailer, rather than consign it to the bin without even looking at what’s inside.

Now, we are seeing technology available that not only puts creative matter on the outside of the envelope, but also personalises that creative. Remember the findings of the last study commissioned by GI Direct – that 70% of UK adults say they are between five and ten times more likely to respond to properly personalised marketing offers. So if that compelling personalisation is brought out onto the outside of the mailer, this gives some idea of the level of uplift that might be achieved.

Technically speaking, there are two approaches to creative on the outside of a mailer. On the one hand, technology is available that can print onto the outside of pre-made envelope stock. This is usually best for small volumes, and close attention has to be made to the production cycle so that content printing and insertion does not get out of sync with this external printing. The insertion integrity is widely available – it’s just a point to be aware of query suppliers closely about. On the other hand – more suited to high volume, high speed runs – much higher quality output can be obtained from a completely inline process. Because this goes from web-fed white paper to finished, fully personalised mailer, synchronisation is not an issue.

So sometimes the simplest observations are also the most revealing. Why do so many organisations invest heavily in creativity and personalisation, then hide it in a white envelope? There’s no need.

Patrick Headley
GI Direct
Patrick Headley is Sales and Marketing Director at GI Direct. He has held roles with Colorgraphic and J Howitt & Sons before joining GI Direct in 1993. Patrick started with GI Solutions Group as a senior sales person, progressing to Business Development Director, and now heads the sales team.


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