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CHECKLIST: ENVELOPE OPENABILITY.

Why do some direct mail offers end up in the trash, unopened and unread? With the help of a consumer research firm, Pitney Bowes has just come up with a ranking of factors that yield the "most openable mail." Get the envelope right, says Pitney Bowes marketing vice president Kevin Weiss, "and your message gets through."

Here are the top factors that help persuade consumers to look inside a direct mail offer:

* Personalization: The single biggest "openability" influence, Pitney Bowes found, is a "specific, correctly spelled name." Says Weiss: "In this age of information, 'current resident' or 'occupant' just doesn't cut it any more." Even when a name is misspelled, he adds, the envelope is more likely to be opened than its generically addressed counterpart.

* Type of postage: When consumers scan an envelope, they may not pay attention to whether it was mailed at first class or bulk mail rates, Pitney Bowes reports--but they do respond more favorably to real stamps or metered postage. Pre-printed permits, although they save on labor, "negatively impact response rates." (Pitney Bowes makes metering equipment, so the skeptics may question the company's objectively on this point. But direct mailers generally agree that pre-printed permits are a turnoff.)

* The return address: Somewhat unexpectedly, the Pitney Bowes consumer panels ranked "the presence of a return address"--preferably with the sender's name--as the third most important factor in their decision to open an envelope. Mystery mail usually ends up in the trash, they add.

* Envelope appearance: Once again, a boring #10 envelope prevails over graphically more interesting sizes and shapes (though a splash of color has a slightly positive effect). Pitney Bowes's research also says the appearance of the address itself affects openability: Consumers like window envelopes and directly-printed addresses, and feel address labels are a symptom of junk mail. "People notice labels," says Weiss, "and labels don't always look professional."

Kevin Weiss, vice president of marketing, Pitney Bowes Mailing Systems, One Elmcroft Rd., Stamford, Conn. 06926; 203/356-5000.
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event
Publication:Soft-Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 20, 1998
Words:331
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