Alpinist Reaches Response Heights
When your magazine is designed to relay the sublime experience and beauty of mountain climbing, it makes sense to design a direct mail effort that's as bold and visually stunning as your subject matter. Published quarterly, Alpinist magazine is dedicated to the world of alpinism and adventure climbing. Fittingly, the 10-7/8" x 8-3/8" subscription offer for the archival-quality publication is not your typical envelope effort (Archive code #202-705039-0512). Instead, the 16-page self-mailer showcases stunning photography, paired with descriptions of the publication.
The mailing opens to a spread featuring a climber on the side of a mountain and a letter from the editor. Each glossy spread features mountain photography and promotional copy about Alpinist's mission, its commitment to a reader-supported model, and the type and quality of content readers can expect to see in each issue. Reader testimonials also punctuate each spread.
First mailed in fall 2004, the effort is the publication's control, mailed to prospects domestically and in Canada. "We try to mail to committed climbers only," says Andy Leinicke, sales and marketing director for Alpinist. "It's a tiny universe, and our universe size directly informs our direct marketing strategy." He adds, "It's a subscription-based ... magazine, so it's very big and beautiful and it [has a] very lush feeling relative to our peers. That's our value offering, and that's why we cost a lot more than our peers. So we need to communicate that in a very tangible way. That's the rationale of having a highly produced piece like we do."
Sending a sample of the magazine to court prospective subscribers didn't feel right either. "To do a mini sample of a magazine, you have to cut off articles and you can't really explain the offers," says Leinicke. "We just didn't find that it had the functionality that's necessary for our needs."
This format allows for endorsementsfrom the climbing community, which customers report was a reason they subscribed, asserts Leinicke. It also letsAlpinist emphasize its Web site and offer. The inside back cover features theoffer and a subscription form. It includes a subscription card that can be mailed in for up to 20 percent off the newsstand rate.
The offer also encourages prospects to visit the magazine's Web site, where they not only can subscribe, but also receive aWeb-exclusive premium with their subscription. The emphasison the Web site and the decision to use premiums for those who subscribe through that channel are deliberate. "We found our readers who subscribe at Alpinist.com have more attractive characteristics than those who subscribe through the mail," says Leinicke. "They have a higher renewal rate, a much higher pay-up rate, and those characteristics make the premiums worthwhile." And since Alpinist already has an online store where many of these items are sold, Leinicke explains the P&L for the items is neutral because Alpinist has the inventory.
Overall, the package has performed successfully. "We really focus all of our efforts on net paid responsethat's the metric we use to measure our efforts," says Leinicke. "And from that perspective, it works very well." Above all, it is a good companion and support to the publication, speaking to the culture of climbing.