As if the supply chain issues affecting paper weren’t already frustrating enough, they’ve managed to creep into every project, from brochures to direct mail, to business cards, to invitations, the list goes on and on. While the implications for many of these jobs are obvious, some not-so-obvious collateral damage is hurting other pieces of collateral, namely the humble remittance envelope.

You probably hadn’t paid this undervalued workhorse much mind before the shortages began, but if you’re handling a direct mail campaign or multiple direct mail campaigns, you’ve been thrust right into the latest supply snafu: there simply isn’t enough paper to go around, and remittance envelopes are no longer an option for many direct marketers. So how do you work around this challenge?

What Is a Remittance Envelope, Again?

First, let's review the format. The remittance envelope is exactly that—it lets your recipients remit information (and sometimes other items) back to you. When you’re trying to elicit a response from a target audience with direct mail, the envelope lets them fulfill that response by mailing back a card with either donation information, an RSVP, or an actual order. It’s also called a reply envelope. 

These envelopes are beautifully designed pieces of marketing material, making designers swoon with their designability and marketers swoon with their efficiency. Combining the form and an envelope, they are truly the best of both worlds. Their large flaps help them protect any type of sensitive information. The form folds easily and neatly into the envelope to keep it secure, and the pocket can hold a check or another piece of paperwork. 

Remittance envelopes are used most often for:

  • Order forms
  • Fundraising
  • Collection Money
  • Charitable Donations
  • Church Donations

There are as many types of forms as there are offers, and the beauty of a remittance envelope is that people feel comfortable sharing sensitive information like credit card numbers because it is tucked into an envelope and hidden from prying eyes. Well, this is no longer a viable option, since envelopes are becoming so scarce.

So what’s a marketer to do?

Two Words: Self. Mailer.

This is a direct mail piece that is designed to fold up to become its own envelope and then secured with a piece of tape or staple. Like the remittance envelope, it is beautiful in its simplicity and transformer-like ability to become something new after it is mailed. Self-mailers also reduce the need for an envelope and extra paper. With a large sheet folded into a standard mailing size, they reduce shipping costs as well. 

Further, these pieces can also be customized easily (like remittance envelopes) with variable data printing that is personalized for each recipient. These “variable response cards” have been shown to be even more effective at asking for charity and other fundraising activities, since they can be printed based on each donor’s giving history. Personalized “ask strings,” or lists of suggested gift amounts can be formulated as well, making them accessible for each donor. Experts recommend listing the amounts from high to low in order to encourage donors to step up. If the most recent gift was $50, you might have $200, $100, and $50 as options. With an “anchor” of $200, $100 suddenly seems cheaper. By starting with the highest amount, that number is anchored in the donor’s mind and the subsequent numbers are judged based on that. Also, the numbers should be easy to read, and rounded to the nearest $5 or $10 for simplification.

Related: How Much Does Direct Mail Cost?

Use No Envelope at All

Another creative way to get around the remittance envelope shortage is to skip sending remittance envelopes to those who normally pay by auto draft or credit card. Going sans envelope and form eliminates a piece of mail that you both don’t need. You can customize your campaign to include those who receive a reply card and those who don’t need one—and save money in the process. You can send recipients to a personalized URL with a landing page that’s created just for them. The landing page can host a donation form that is super secure and doesn’t require any paper at all!

The paper shortages have forced all of us to get creative in ways we might not have before. Sometimes tight resources can spur great money- and time-saving ideas—necessity is the mother of invention, after all. In the case of remittance envelopes, these ideas can help you save paper, the planet, and envelope costs. And we can help with any of your direct mail needs—especially as the shortages require more and better inventions!

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Written by Scott Kravitz

As a graduate of RIT University and with over 25 years of experience, Scott Kravitz has been bringing his wealth of print knowledge to Ironmark since 2019. Kravitz manages Ironmark's sales representatives and provides alignment and communication between sales, marketing, clients, and production. With his charismatic personality and effective management skills, Kravitz leads strategic partnerships and increasing sales with new, emerging, and enterprise clients for Ironmark.

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