Mailers offered tips yesterday on how to sustain and increase response rates in this “new era of marketing.”
One idea is to give away something for free in every offer.
Consumer Reports included a quiz about televisions in some of its letter packages and offered magalogs and bookalogs loaded with product information as value adds. March of Dimes continues to have success using its name sticker program. Random House inserted free recipes in promotions for Bon Appetit and bookmarks with book offers. In a recent book promotion, it offered last year’s book as a free incentive. The offer lifted response 45% to outside lists and returns were down 50%, said Lisa Faith Phillips, vice president and general manager of Random House Direct Inc.
Departures Magazine–an American Express publication for platinum and centurion card members–sent a direct mail package to 4,000 platinum members with an invitation to test drive a new luxury car with a starting price tag of $150,000. Some 2,000 of those members were offered the chance to take the car home for two days. “The response was extraordinary in both cases,” said Marla Nitke, marketing director for Departures.
Keeping an eye on creative in these scary times can’t be underestimated, panelists said: The slightest misstep can land an entire campaign in the trash.
For example, post Sept. 11, Consumer Reports pulled a promotion for its travel letter, which has 140,000 subscribers, that talked about how to get a good airline seat. It read, “How to avoid the misery of coach,” said Simon Aronin, senior director, consumer marketing for Consumer Union which publishes Consumer Reports magazine.
Once the anthrax attacks began, Random House revised a direct mail creative for one of its magazines that topped a luscious-looking pie with powered sugar. The publisher also went to a more expensive outer last fall on offers for Gourmet and Bon Appetit to signal to recipients that it was a high-end, safe offer.
Another tip that may improve response is to test different formats for existing packages and mail pieces to alter their appearance.
Consumer Reports repackaged one of its offers into an oversized envelope and increased response from 4.5% to 5% at a lower cost per order, Aronin said.
When asked about combining channels as a way to up response, Aronin suggested combining DRTV with direct mail. For Consumer Reports, DRTV hasn’t worked as a stand alone medium for the last six years, but tests indicate that spots run prior to a direct mail drop improved response in the mail campaign.
Of concern when discussing combining channels was the FTC’s proposal in January for a national do-not-call list as the number of states–which stands at 27–enact their own no-calls lists. Some panelists felt that could significantly inhibit marketing efforts. “That would really hurt us,” Haywood said.
And, striking partnerships is a cost effective way to find an audience a marketer may be unable to reach through its own direct marketing efforts. March of Dimes partners with retailer Kmart which sells the nonprofit’s little pink and white teddy bears promoting its Walk America program at checkout for $5 (the cost is $2 each for March of Dimes). The proceeds bring in “millions,” in funds, said Kimberly Haywood, director of the Mothers March campaign for the March of Dimes.
Along with the tips, panelists expressed a positive view for the remainder of 2002.
Consumers Union plans to increase mail volume. March of Dimes is not scaling back on mail volume and continues to aggressively mail. And many panelists said response was edging up.
“That’s a great sign for everybody,” said Gail Terry of Terry Direct.
The panelist participated in a question and answer session during a luncheon held by the Hudson Valley Direct Marketing Association in Greenwich, CT. Rich Mercado, senior director of Madison Direct Marketing moderated the event.