When Savvi Formalwear, a group of 35 independent formal wear retailers, wanted to connect with more soon-to-be brides, it chose the print and digital trifecta — direct mail, email and personalized landing pages.
All of Savvi Formalwear’s direct mail pieces were personalized using variable data printing (VDP), with coupons or incentives such as the two free airline tickets shown in the postcard in this post and a PURL that drives brides to a landing page with a store locator and Savvi Formalwear branding.
Savvi Formalwear is using the campaign to capture more of the $1 billion formal wear industry, that like other industries, has suffered because of the 2009-2011 recession.
Not coincidentally the majority of Savvi Formalwear stores are located on the west coast where nearly 20% of the formal wear transactions occur. In these 35 stores, Savvi Formalwear is trying to lure as many of the two million brides that get married every year to their stores and services as possible.
SOURCE: IBIS World Report, Formal Wear and Costume Rental in the U.S., May 2012
Savvi Formalwear’s campaign, named SavviOne, included weekly mail drops across the U.S. and Canada to promote formal wear to couples planning their weddings. Using the power of personalization, Savvi Formalwear significantly increased the engagement and conversions in its multi-channel promotional campaign, according to Mark Morrow, president of Savvi Formalwear.
SOURCE: Case Studies, www.montagedigital.com
Bride Puts Money Toward Print Pieces Not Cake or Dress
While most brides can spend the majority of their wedding budget on elaborate centerpieces, cakes and designer dresses, bride Robin Nelson, who works in the printing industry, invested her wedding dollars in a cross-media wedding campaign.
Nelson said the campaign enabled her to gather more information about each of her guests to organizing the wedding to taking advantage of technologies that count RSVPs and help brides budget for dinner, drinks, the rehearsal dinner and after-ceremony reception.
SOURCE: “Happily Ever After: A Cross-Media Wedding Campaign” by Robin Nelson, XMPie Blog, Oct. 12, 2011
With the use of variable data printing, there was no confusion on head count at Nelson’s wedding. Nelson attributes this to her guests who updated their RURL (Response URL also called PURL for personalized URL) especially in regards to how many children who would be coming with them).
The information Nelson got from her guests through the landing page they responded to allowed her to stay within budget, update her guest list and create a seating chart.
Nelson also downloaded the XMPie Marketing Console iPhone app that allowed her to provide final head counts and meal preferences to her caterer and vendors through report on-the-fly report technology.
So while some brides like the visual trimmings (cakes, bridesmaid’s gifts, etc.), savvy brides are tapping into VDP and digital technology to make their wedding planning less stressful and more personalized to all involved.
*QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Mail is still first class in the eyes of 73% of consumers in America who still prefer to receive direct mail for brand communications. So despite all the press and pixels that social and email marketing get, direct mail is still tops in the eyes of consumers.
Despite the exposure of digital channels, direct mail is expected to grow 1.4% annually for the next five years to $13.8 billion.
Personalization Makes Direct Mail Even Hotter
Companies that gather data on customers who segment the information into relevant marketing communications delivered via variable data printing win big with double-digit responses.
If you are a marketing leader who invests in direct mail as a channel, do you consistently ensure what you send out is variably printed and designed? Consumers expect communications to be relevant across all channels, including direct mail.
Discover credit card company targets its list based on different customer attributes and then tags each piece with a personalized invitation number. “Direct mail is a great way for us to target consumers,” says Laks Vasudevan, Discover director of acquisition. “It’s our most targeted platform.”
Pull the Trigger
DSW sends personalized birthday postcards with offers to its 20 million plus rewards members. Who wouldn’t want $10 off a new pair of shoes as a gift to self?
And there’s something special about getting a real card with physical value versus a mass email with fashion tips, according to Kelly Cook, DSW’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.
When the company tested sending birthday coupons via email, it didn’t perform nearly as well as direct mail.
Give Your Customer What They Want When They Want It
Long gone are the days of sending one universal offer to everybody. For instance, I recently received a special offer for a college loan for my children from my bank. Yet, I don’t have children. I know the marketing team at my bank and I know they have access to some very sophisticated database tools to monitor my account activity and have done a lot of data mining, they failed to connect with me as a valued customer.
Give your customers the perks they want when they want and don’t delay. With today’s 24/7 marketing automation systems, there’s no excuse.
SOURCE:Direct Mail Advertising in the U.S., October 2012, research report by IBISWorld.
SOURCE:“Direct Mail, Evolved,” by Dianna Dilworth of Direct Marketing News, March 01, 2013.
If you or your company loves Saturday postal delivery, rest easy. Saturday deliveries will continue based on a decision made April 9 by the Board of Governors of the United Postal Service.
By using restrictive language in its resolution, the Board of Governors in essence have prohibited a new national delivery schedule that would have ceased Saturday mail deliveries (excluding packages) starting August 5, 2013 (even though 75% of the American public was for the change).
A Temporary Vs. Permanent Reprieve
While this decision temporarily puts the brakes on postal delivery changes, reducing delivery days is still part of the larger five-year business plan to restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability. The Board still supports the shift to a new, reduced postal delivery schedule to save approximately $2 billion in annual cost.
Delaying changes to the current Postal Service business model only increases the potential that the Postal Service could become a taxpayer burden in the future. (Currently, the Government only subsidizes discounts given to non-profits, mailing privileges for Congress, and other revenue foregone.) Therefore, the Board has directed management to reopen negotiations with postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs.
In addition, the Board urges Congress to quickly pass a comprehensive postal legislation allowing the Postal Service to establish an appropriate, financially sustainable national delivery schedule.
The next meeting for the Postal Board of Governors is set for May 10. What’s your prediction to how this might play out? Will it affect your direct mail efforts?
The article below is admittedly a personal review of some direct mail I received. I am not privy to the strategies of any of these pieces or to the metrics associated with the return on investment for these campaigns. As a direct marketer I know that all that really matters is the testing matrix and campaign ROI; neither of which do I have any knowledge of. With that said, let’s critique!
After sorting through a huge box of direct mail I collect, I was amazed to find such poor use of the outer envelope for pain-filled call to actions (CTAs). Out of this 20-pound box of direct mail, I only found one organization that was nailing pain-focused CTAs while dozens of others were missing the mark completely – most failing to have a CTA on the envelope at all.
You can see by the two outer envelopes below that the Salvation Army clearly understands driving response through pain and strong CTAs. Pella Windows and JCP on the other hand, do not. These for-profit giants neglected to include anything on the outer envelops to persuade the recipient to take the next step and open the envelope. No CTA, no compelling photograph, no pain. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Many organizations have found that raising the level of a pain surrounding a problem to the point that the inflicted one wants a solution and is willing to act on it is a viable messaging tool.
With all the pain in today’s trauma filled world and with overfilled email boxes, getting to the pain via an envelope with a strong call to action may be the best route to new customers or donors.
Pella’s Envelope Is Void of Pain
We are certain that Pella Window’s marketing department has tested their envelope copy strategy to the hilt, but we spent a little time playing with possible headlines… Tell us if you think these are strong:
- Did you know windows can leak 25% of your heat during the winter? That’s a lot of heat.
- Daddy always complained about heating the outside.
- Might as well just leave the window open, don’t you think?
When we look at Pella Window’s letter we also feel like we want more. We would love to see some content on a replacement cost vs. return on investment calculation to demonstrate how quickly a homeowner can recoup his costs over time just through energy efficiencies throughout all seasons.
Not sure it would work, but it might be worth a test, but imagine retrieving an envelope out of your mailbox with the photograph above on it if you just got an extremely high gas bill earlier that month and the thought of new windows was in the back of your mind. What if the envelope had, “Quit making your family wear down vests and stocking caps to watch a movie in your drafty house.” Would you open the envelope to read more?
JCP Counts CEO Clout to Earn the Open
Lucky me, I received a letter from JCP’s CEO Ron Johnson! I wondered what’s up. Opening this generic, highly digitized very personalized letter, I learn that JCP is making changes in their store to bring back the fun of shopping. If you know me, you know I don’t really enjoy shopping.
Fun of shopping, huh. Funny, this envelope and letter aren’t very fun. In fact, they’re kind of boring.
Johnson goes on to say he doesn’t want me to have to wait for a sale or coupon so I’ll now find low prices every day, which sounds a lot like Wal-mart, but wait. There’s a $10 coupon at the bottom of the letter if I get to JCP in the next few days. Isn’t that kind of a mixed message? No more coupons but here is a coupon?
And here’s another kicker, the letter from the desk of Ron Johnson is signed Ron – now not really. It’s just his typed name. No signature blue ink, cursive writing. Just a corporate looking letter, with a convoluted message and a non-personalized signature at the bottom and no pain or CTA on the outer envelope.
Come on JCP – if you’re trying to be warm, value driven, fun and shift from a couponing strategy to every day value you are delivering numerous conflicting messages.
Now keep in mind, they did send me this letter to my work address. I wonder was the appeal of one more formal letter supposed to get through to me and entice me to use a $10 coupon because I absolutely had to run out in the next four days and buy something.
Add to the confusion. I’m not a JCP shopper. Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I walked in to a JCP. I don’t have kids so I’m not in that “holy grail” of consumers. I rarely use coupons. Heck, I rarely even remember to use the gift cards I get for presents. Bigger problem for JCP – they are spending money with a strange message to try and lure me to their store.
With all these comments I’ll admit the marketer in me is uncomfortable sharing my anecdotal observations. I would love to see the data. I would love to see the testing matrix. I would love to see the ROI and consumer analytics reports, but alas I get to sit back and observe my experience with a mail piece.
I guess this is what a Monday morning quarterback feels like.
Have you received anything from an organization that made you want to take action because it had a great CTA, personalized URL, or magnified some pain that drove you to take action? Let me know in comments.
Discontinuing Saturday delivery of first-class mail has been discussed as a means to cut postal service costs for years. Now that five-day delivery has been officially announced and scheduled to start this August, what are the implications on businesses?
Not as much as one might think (at first glance at least).
Market research conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news organizations indicates that nearly 70% of Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce its costs.
According to an article that ran in a Pennsylvania paper, the Observer-Reporter, the candy operation and local hospital didn’t foresee problems for their operations with the USPS moving to five-day delivery.
Candy Firm and Hospital Foresee No Problem with Change
Sarris is a midsize firm, with 550 employees at its store and warehouse in Canonsburg, and in the Gardner’s Candies operations it owns in Central Pennsylvania. Sarris Owners say the postal service moves won’t change things for them one way or another.
About 95 percent of Sarris packages are transported by FedEx or UPS, adding that FedEx also delivers on Saturdays and UPS will do so for an additional charge. As a reminder, the Postal service does plan to continue package delivery on Saturday.
Monongahela Valley Hospital is a much larger operation with 1,235 employees. But Corinne Laboon, vice president of marketing and community relations, said the postal changes should have little — if any — effect on operations at the Carroll Township facility.
“From a patient perspective, I don’t think it’s going to have a significant impact,” said Laboon, whose hospital is the third-largest employer in Washington County.
SOURCE: Businesses Say End of Saturday Service Will Have Minimal Impact, by Rick Shrum of the Observer-Reporter, Feb. 6, 2013.
Businesses with Bigger Beefs Concerning No Saturday Delivery
Netflix, a DVD by mail firm, has six months to rework its movie delivery model for its non-streaming customers. Though Saturday is a huge movie-watching day, Netflix has been encouraging streaming service memberships and therefore has seen its DVD memberships decrease quarter by quarter.
SOURCE: Publishers, Ad Mailers Assess No Saturday Delivery by Tim Mullaney of RGI.com, Feb. 7, 2013
Time Magazine has been historically delivered to customer mailboxes on Saturday. The Wall Street Journal, delivers to certain customers on Saturday, but has been decreasing its dependency on the USPS over the years, according to Tim Mullaney of RGI.
SOURCE: Publishers, Ad Mailers Assess No Saturday Delivery by Tim Mullaney of RGI.com, Feb. 7, 2013
Small newspaper publishers might face some obstacles with the reduction in delivery times. Many daily and weekly newspapers had already omitted home delivery contractors because of the rising cost of gas only to return to mailing their papers. Now it appears they’ll need to reinforce quality content over timely content.
The Real Issue
It’s important to note that the real issue facing the post office is its inability to be fluid with its business model. Imagine running a business that required you to PREFUND pensions. When the Postal Service hires an employee they must estimate the amount of pension that employee will earn from day one to their anticipated retirement. Then the USPS must prefund that employee’s pension fund. It cannot make annual contributions. The Postal Service is the only organization, public or private, that has this burden.
It is estimated that the mailing industry is in excess of a trillion dollars. Congressional reform is needed.
Direct Mail is alive and kicking even if your original cell phone is not.
Despite the attraction toward digital marketing, direct mail is far from extinct. According to a study conducted by Millward Brown, Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail, physical marketing materials vs. virtual marketing materials engage customers far better and trigger more emotional responses deepening brand engagement.
A Deeper Footprint
Regular Forbes contributor, Steve Olenski educates marketers that direct mail is not dead, but more relevant than ever in his article, In the Land of Digital, Let’s Not Forget the Physical and Direct Mail: Alive and Kicking.
Olenski also sites Millward Brown’s study of direct mail as it excels in the areas of neuroscientific engagement of customers as you can see in the video below.
Brown’s study states that physical media (direct mail) leaves a deeper footprint on the brain. In other words, content or marketing materials that consumers can touch and resonate with will engage more emotions than digital marketing messages.
- Greater emotional processing is facilitated by consumers interacting with physical materials as opposed to virtual.
- The “real” experience means the message becomes a better part of the recipient’s memory.
- Brain scans showed print vs. digital material is internalized more deeply, meaning the materials had more of a personal effect that should aid in motivation or responding to a good call to action.
Source: Millward Brown Neuroscience Marketing Study: Understanding Direct Mail with Neuroscience
Mail Me An Offer
Consumers that are affected by physical media are not just the older demographics such as busters and boomers, which is contrary to some marketers’ assumptions. According to Lisa Formica, president of FMI, a direct mail marketing and advertising firm, direct mail is not specific to a certain age group. Younger consumers (the 18- to 32-year old group) prefer to communicate with business and receive their offers via postal mail. And that preference doesn’t take into account the power and increased response rate when you send a dimensional mailing (3D or “lumpy mail”).
Of course there is still an art and science to creating powerful direct mail and poorly executed direct mail still risks being tossed (read Why Your Direct Mail Is Really Being Thrown Away.)
According to The Kern Organization, killer direct marketers, direct mail designers, and direct mail copywriters are becoming harder to find and it may be a matter of lack of training. In its Vlog post, Is There Still a Place for Direct Mail in This Digital Age?, Russell Kern says marketers lack the experience and confidence needed to design and test a direct mail strategy.
Isn’t it funny how keeping your skills up is different among the generations? While senior marketers are constantly teaching themselves mobile and digital media, junior marketers must remember to keep their direct mail skills polished by attending Direct Marketing conferences, reading Deliver magazine and perhaps getting a senior direct mail mentor or learning from direct mail legends, including David Ogilvy, Bob Stone and Lester Wunderman.
The postcard below from Excelsior Springs Hospital arrived in a mailbox of a 50 year old living in a subdivision with mixed housing.
For the recipient, it was off message. They were not interested in comparing residential care homes quite yet being that they are only 50 years old. I live in a subdivision designed for people to progress through life from the townhomes, to single family homes to raise a family, to the patio homes to enjoy one-level living prior to advancing to a nursing home or residential care center.
So the question begs, what did Excelsior Springs Hospital use to compile a target rich list? Zip codes, type of home, age, mortgage balance, employment? If I were their marketing director, I would have specified 55 to 75 years of age living in ranch homes with a zero balance so to hone in on people most likely to be ready to move from their downsized ranch or maintenance-free patio home into an independent living center or assisted living.
Fatal Flaws Made in Senior Living Postcard
As you see, Excelsior Springs Hospital has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this simple 5×7 postcard. It’s packed, yet pulseless. Here’s where they fell short.
- The headline is a snore. A better headline/offer would have been, “Join us for a 4-Course Lunch and 4-Course Resident Panel.”
- The photo a bore. A photo of Paul Kemp gardening or playing cards would have been more engaging. Having him looking at a book, not the camera, is too passive.
- You don’t know where to start. They have three tiers of living centers to offer. Why not chronologically take the prospect through each one with numbers (1) Independent Living (2) Residential Care (3) Convalescent Center.
- Information overload. There is way too much copy. This is a postcard, not a brochure or website. Give them the highlights and move them down the funnel to get more information.
- No continuity. The bulleted list on the left is flush left while the list on the right is centered. Some headlines have serif fonts, while some are san serif.
- There is no offer. With the competitive senior living market, why should the receiver of this postcard call the number or visit the website (which should be a landing page instead of a general URL (GURL).
- It’s features-not benefits-oriented. The front and back of the card “focuses on,” but doesn’t describe WIIFT (what’s in it for them). Better copy points out never feeling isolated or being excited to receive the calendar every month because there are so many fun things to pick to do each day.
- Meaningless elements. Everything in a good design has a reason for being there. It serves a purpose of pointing someone’s eye down the piece or to the next section. This card shows two blue starbursts that just further add to the clutter and a silky blue background that seems out of place. The two design blocks on the front of the card appear like the tablets from the 10 commandments but again I don’t understand the point.
- They called their customer a name. According to Britt Brouse, Associate Editor of Inside Direct Mail, you should never use the word “senior” when marketing to seniors. Instead focus on your services and how it meets their needs without pinpointing a life stage.
- They missed their target. The postcard was addressed to the male of the house, instead of me. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is mailing to the male head of household, or to “couples,” when half of all households with people 65 or over are headed by one person, and 80 percent of those are women.
What did I miss? Did you catch something I didn’t see? Please put your comments and insights in the comments box below.
If your last several direct mail campaigns didn’t pull the results you wanted, perhaps it wasn’t because your competition one-upped you. Perhaps it was because your execution stunk (or deserved a thumbs down).
Direct mail works every time when executed correctly, as you will learn in our Behold the Power of Postcard article.
Pat McGraw, experienced marketer and adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University, agrees. “Yes, direct marketing works. It works in any industry when properly executed. Direct marketing is an interactive system of marketing which uses one or more advertising media to affect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location.”
According to the recently released 2012 Marketing-GAP report, fewer than 2% of people are “happy” to get marketing messages via text messaging and social media. In fact, marketers continue to “massively overestimate” the popularity of these channels.
Before you plan another Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or mobile media campaign, check out these additional findings from the eighth annual survey.
- One in 5 throw away direct mailings pieces without opening them. Direct mail gets tossed unopened most often because:
- 55% are not interested in the product
- Not interested in the company (49%)
- Object to being marketed to (44%).
- 32% do not open mail that is not addressed to them (up from 23% just one year ago). Design and color was only noted by 2% and 4%, respectively, as a reason for not opening a marketing piece.
- When asked why consumers toss their direct mailings without reading it, marketers overestimate by more than 300% the importance of lack of time (40% v. 11% as reported by consumers surveyed), by 600% the design; (17% v. 2%) and by 300% the envelope’s color (13% v. 4%). Marketers’ estimations of two of the three most important reasons for disposal – “no interest in product” and “object to being sent marketing” – are more accurate, within 6% and 3% respectively.
- The top direct mail pieces that are opened almost immediately: grocery stores (40%), travel/holiday (24%), credit card offers (23%).
The report states: “Marketers remain deaf to consumer demands and preferences by overestimating, frequently by hundreds of percent, people’s desire to be contacted via mobile, social media and Twitter. In fact, a sure way to alienate customers and prospects is to only provide information and offers through these routes. Only a minority of consumers can imagine a purely virtual retail world where real shops no longer exist and most think such a world would be a worse place.”
About: Conducted in August 2012. fast.Map partnered with The Institute of Promotional Marketing and The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). The research was sponsored by the Royal Mail. The consumer panel comprised 1,140 adults recruited from the 30,000 fast.MAP wholly-owned, closed panel whose profile echoes that of the UK’s population profile in age and gender. Only people who are both mail and Internet responsive were selected for the panel. The marketers panel comprised 353 marketers, drawn from the fast.MAP marketing professionals’ panel and the IPM and IDM’s membership.
Source: fast.map, 2012 fast.Map Marketing GAP report, accessed October 10, 2012.