Assurity Direct gets creative with mail and models to energize its prospecting The next step in Assurity Direct’s plan to improve direct mail results
By Linda Formichelli
is the use of ZIP code analysis
to suppress mailings in
cities that don’t
Innovation: In 1890, Dr. E. O. Faulkner created Modern Woodmen Accident Association because he saw a need to make accident coverage available to working people—not just the wealthy. This Lincoln, Neb., company continued to expand and add products over the next century. Change: In 1954, three Woodmen companies were merged to create Woodmen Accident and Life Co., and in 1997, the Assurity Life Insurance Co. was formed as a subsidiary of Woodmen Accident and Life. Risk-taking: Assurity Direct, the direct marketing division of Assurity Life, scrapped its entire direct marketing program in 2004 to start fresh with new vendors, new lists, new creative, new offers, and a new print and mailing house. In addition, the company started using database marketing analytics to refine its customer acquisition activities.
The result? Assurity Direct has seen an incredible 60 percent lift in its response rate from the new creative and an 11 percent increase from the new lists.
The Way Things Were
Assurity has been using direct mail since 1997, and has been using it as a primary method of marketing for the past six years. “We have in the past tried TV advertising, free standing inserts and most recently affinity
mailing, but our primary prospecting tool is direct mail,” says Steve Hawkins, director of marketing services at Assurity Direct.
From 1997 to 2003, Assurity boasted high response rates to its direct mail program. But starting in 2004, response rates began to decline. That would have been a great time to try new lists, test new creative and otherwise mix things up—but this was impossible. “Our former consultant had a turnkey system and was not able to get it changed around,” Hawkins says.
The Creative Challenge
One of the first things Hawkins did was hire Gary Hennerberg, founder of Hennerberg Group Inc. in Colleyville, Texas, to devise new creative that would grab the eyes—and minds—of potential customers who weren’t responding to the old creative efforts. “We’d been going to the same target market for seven years with the same type of creative and were very lucky that we’d been able to ride it for that long,” says Hawkins. “We tried new creative every year, but were using the same designer to come up with new packages. We weren’t getting something fresh and new. With this creative, we went way outside our normal efforts.”