Credit and Collections Issues for Bill-Me Offers (2,137 words)
3. Tell them what will happen if they don't respond.
There are also three elements of billing letters: outer envelope, format and content. Here are some tips on maximizing effectiveness:
Get the envelope opened. The goal of the envelope for a billing series is the same as for any other direct mail piece: to get opened. However, Harpham advises that the tactics that work for acquisition offers won't work for persistent delinquents. Treat the second and third notice envelopes as normal, clearly marked invoices, but after that, Harpham warns, "Don't put the name of the sender on the envelope. Just put the address on the back. If they know they haven't paid for a magazine and they get an envelope from them, they won't open it."
However, companies with well-known brand names that inspire customer loyalty may have more luck using branded envelopes.
And most of all, he says, don't put "invoice enclosed" on the outside after the third or fourth notice. While diligent customers respond better to clearly marked bills, diligent customers are not the recipients of your fourth or fifth billing notice. The customers you're mailing now have a different psychology, and many are more likely to throw away a bill than a new offer.
For these customers, an envelope-opening code word is "priority" or "important notice." For example, the Wall Street Journal's billing envelopes read, "Highest
Vary your message and creative. If a customer didn't respond to a mailing the first time, you can bet he or she won't respond to the same envelope and language the fifth time.
"The key to getting a response is that mailings must change," says Harpham. "Always change the outer envelope, even if it's just the color."
Like all matters, envelope copy should be tested for effectiveness. Some publishers, such as Boardroom, use a consistent look throughout their billing series. Rodale Press, on the other hand, drastically changes the look for each notice.