Direct Mail Sows Solid Relationships (1,097 words)
To overcome the distance, "we use a lot of forms of direct mail to communicate with our shoppers," says Stapel. The company also has a catalog, which was acquired in the recent merger, but its merchandise is limited to harder agricultural products like tractor parts, not soft goods like clothing or housewares, and so it is currently mailed to only a segment of the housefile.
Stapel says the greatest challenge with such a long-standing loyalty program is "keeping it fresh." In her constant search for new ideas to test, she says, "I look at the things I get in my mail for interesting promotions, mail formats and creative." Adds Stapel, "It helps that we work with such a great group of [creative] people who are willing to consider anything." She also holds in-house brainstorming sessions to get some additional input—not from the creative or marketing staffs but from "outsiders" such as the accounting or IS departments.
One of the retailer's most successful direct mail promotions of late was a Mother's Day Event. "Even though the database is set up by household and includes male and female names, it showed a high percentage of male shoppers (about 60 percent) and revealed that many had never visited certain departments outside their core buying areas," says Stapel. A personalized mailing was created to redirect shoppers to other departments in the store. The program received a 50-percent response, and 70 percent went and bought in departments they had not been in before.
Watch the ROI
Of course, shopper loyalty means nothing if the back end doesn't hold up. With any loyalty program, "The name of the game is ROI," says Schneider. "You don't just do these things [loyalty programs] to be nice. A lot of people talk the talk but few really use their loyalty programs to make more money."