Don't forget about the envelope

Quite often so much thought goes into what's going inside a mail pack that the trusted envelope is overlooked.

Yet, in many ways, it's the most important element. If the envelope doesn't grab the recipient's interest, the pack won't be opened and then it doesn't matter what's inside.

But an envelope isn't just an envelope. There are many factors to take into consideration and should be treated as a vital part of a campaign. Here are some things to bear in mind..

Choosing the correct size

C4, C5, C6, DL, oversized, undersized.... confused by what all these sizes mean? In a nutshell, standard envelope sizes are referenced in 'C' sizes which relate to paper sizes. For example, flat A4 paper will fit perfectly into a C4 envelope, A5 sized paper will fit in to a C5 and so forth.

It's vital the items you're mailing will adequately fit into the envelope. But don't worry about too much about needing to know the exact envelope size, as long as we know what you're looking to insert, we will advise on the most suitable to your campaign.

The size of the envelope is also important because it may also affect the postage rate. Royal Mail's pricing is based on whether items are 'letter' (for example, C5) or 'large letter' (for example, C4). However, this isn't a set rule as the weight of the item will also affect the postage rate. For example, if a C5 pack is over 100gms, it will be charged as a large letter. Postage rates are a minefield, but, again, this is something we will always work with our clients on to ensure mailings are sent as efficiently as possible.

Keep it plain or make it all singing, all dancing

Deciding whether to keep your envelope plain, print a message, or go all out and have it printed throughout with graphics and a design will vary on many factors.

There are many mailings which lend themselves to keeping the envelopes as plain as possible, for example transactional mail, where it's not necessary to print branding or a marketing message. There's also an argument that giving as little away as possible on the envelope means the recipient must open the envelope to see what is enclosed.

But for other mailings, the envelope is a key opportunity to get your branding and/or campaign message seen. This may be overprinting a company logo, a strong message or going all out and printing in full colour throughout. Printing in full colour is more expensive but it allows you to fully integrate the envelope into your campaign which can act as a teaser to encourage the recipient to open the pack. There are lots of statistics that support the benefits of printing to the envelope:

  • Adding colour to a direct mail piece may increase response rate by up to 45%
  • Colour can increase learning & retention up to 78%
  • Colour is 80% more likely to be read than black and white

Envelopes are a world of colour

When most people think of an envelope, they will tend to think white. However, envelopes are available in every colour imaginable. Using a coloured envelope can be an instant way to change the look and feel of a pack, and, be a way of getting your pack noticed without the expense of full colour printing.

Manilla envelopes are often used to mail official documentation, or to give that impression.

Other campaigns end themselves to using coloured envelopes. When we decided to send a Valentine's Day card to our clients (we wanted to let them know how much they mean to us!), it only seemed right we used a red envelope and addressed them with a hand script font.

When one of our theatre clients produced a VIP invite, it was printed on black stock, with gold foil. A black envelope completed the look and added impact.

It's all about thinking outside the envelope!

Window or non window?

It's a well known fact that a personalised mail piece will generate a better response than a generic mailing. Personalisation improves engagement and makes your customer feel like they are valued. Therefore, whenever possible, we would always recommend personalising a letter/form within the pack, therefore using a window envelope.


Don't forget that envelopes are, on the whole, a sustainable way to mail. Most local authorities will recycle envelopes, even those with windows (but do please check with your local recycling authority). All the stock envelopes we use are FSC and/or PEFC certified.

To find out more about envelopes, please contact us today.