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September Case Study Featuring Lapham’s Quarterly

Lapham's Black Outer EnvelopeThe September 2012 issue of our case study newsletter features our client Lapham’s Quarterly and their test of a black outer envelope versus a white outer envelope.

The companies involved in this mailing include:

Test Summary

Lapham’s Quarterly was mailing a #10 package with a black outer envelope, reply card, accordion brochure, lift note and BRE. The offer was four editions for $39, a $21 discount. Their question was: Could switching to a white outer envelope, but keeping the package components and offer the same, boost response?

Lapham's White Outer Envelope     Lapham's Brochure

Lapham's Order Form     Lapham's Lift Note

Test Strategy

The black outer envelope #10 package was performing well for Lapham’s Quarterly, but they wanted to see if switching to a white outer envelope would boost response. While it was obviously a color test, the other part of the equation was the fact that the white outer envelope would be less expensive to produce versus the black outer envelope because of the significantly reduced ink coverage.

Test Results

The white envelope basically tied with the black envelope on response. But it’s the first time they mailed the test and only at a quantity of 25,000 pieces. Since the white envelope is the less expensive version, they’ll re-test it in November at a larger quantity of probably 50,000 pieces and label it the new control if they get a similar result.

Test Takeaway

According to one of Acme Publishing Service’s founding partners, “The takeaway, I think, is a simple one: Examine your control each time for new ways to wring out savings. Can you deliver the same visual impact in a less expensive way? Ballantine has always been stellar when it comes to making these kinds of very specific cost-cutting suggestions.”

Do you have any questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you below!




#1 mike popalardo on 09.19.12 at 1:48 pm

Hi Ryan – are there any plans to test in a color other than black or white (red? neon green? yellow). Has anyone ever reported to you that a color envelope simply works better?

Thanks for any insights you can share,.

#2 ballantine on 09.19.12 at 1:59 pm

Hi Mike, I’ll check and report back with a 2nd comment. As far as other clients, we’ve send tests of baby blue, neon green, yellow and red. The only non-white #10′s that seem to stick around are the kraft ones (is it because both white and kraft have a check/invoice/bill type of look?). As you know, however, nothing is definite until you test.

#3 ballantine on 09.20.12 at 11:17 am

Mike, I heard back from Acme, Lapham’s circulation consultants:

“I think it’s fair to say there’s no rule of thumb about color X on an outer envelope working better than colors Y or Z. It’s a matter of effective design. We had a strong, arresting design with the control black outer. But, as noted, it required tremendous ink coverage, and we were advised that it would be much cheaper to go with a standard white envelope and much less ink.

All that said, I have seen (and done) testing that supports the theory that a brightly colored BRE does better than a standard white one. I’ve gotten a lift every time I’ve mailed a yellow BRE, for instance. But the question is always whether the lift will be large enough to make up for the increased cost of the colored envelope.”

#4 Mike D on 10.10.12 at 9:29 am

Interestingly, we have recent test results of a double window OE – the address window and one in the upper left.

A white envelope significantly outperformed a yellow (standard OTS yellow – not a flood print/tint) in both response rate and average gift.

The key is to test, test, test.

#5 ballantine on 10.10.12 at 10:23 am

Exactly Mike. Thanks for sharing!

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