Using Teasers to Increase Appeal Response Rates
There’s an old saying in direct mail: “An envelope has two jobs. The first is to get delivered to the right mailbox. The second is to get opened.” Getting prospects to open the envelope is a key step in having them read what’s inside and, ultimately, make a contribution.
The best way to get your alumni to notice (and want to open) the envelope is to capture their attention and make them curious. One way to do this is to use envelopes that stand out because they are unusual in size, shape or color or because they are creative or eye-catching in some other way. Using standard #10 envelopes for mailings may be easy and cost-efficient, but doing so also increases the risk that your appeal will be overlooked.
Another way to increase the chances that your envelope gets noticed is to use teasers (i.e., short eye-catching messages or images) that lure alumni to look inside. A good place for teasers is between the recipient’s name and address (usually in the middle of the envelope) and the return address (usually in the top left corner of the envelope). These are the first two places people’s eyes go when they look at an envelope, and your message will stand out when their eyes move from one to the other.
A teaser should try to tap into the prospect’s emotions, regardless of its placement. For example, “Find out why your gift could help our rankings!” might evoke a sense of pride or connection. “Is your name on this list?” could make recipients curious (and possibly concerned) that they might be left out of something if they don’t act. Don’t be afraid to try humor now and then. The University of California, San Diego used a teaser that read, “OPEN ME. Seriously, I can’t open myself. I don’t have hands because I’m an envelope.”
No matter how compelling your enclosed appeal is, if it goes straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin, the envelope has not performed its job – and you’ve missed the opportunity to engage the recipient and obtain a donation. At the end of the day, when your prospect is flipping through a stack of junk mail, a funny or intriguing teaser might just make the difference.
This article has been adapted from the book Ideas for Annual Giving by Dan Allenby. Copyright (c) 2016 Council for Advancement and Support of Education. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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