Direct Mail Strategy: Birthday Greetings!
Postal Mail Versus E-mail
I'm waiting to see what my mail holds this September because all but one of last year's greetings arrived by postal mail. That could be related to where I've opted in to receive e-mail and provided my birth date.
Observation: Even in today's Internet-savvy culture, e-mailed birthday "cards" lack the personal quality of those that arrive in the mail. Also, if you're including an offer element that needs to be printed or retained for later use, an 81⁄2˝ x 11˝ piece of paper is not as convenient as the plastic gift card I received from Victoria's Secret (shown at right) or the wallet-size savings certificate from Chico's. However, if your relationship with your customer is completely Web-based, an e-card is more appropriate.
Personalization and Addressing
Getting this element right is essential. For example, the one e-mail birthday greeting I received last year included a "personal" salutation that truncated my given name to "PATRICI." Even spelled correctly, no one but my mother and the government calls me Patricia. In fairness, most of the traditionally mailed greetings also were addressed to "Patricia," with only one hand-addressed to "Pat" (extra credit goes to my chiropractor). The other big oops was the Limited Too birthday postcard, addressed to "THE FRIESEN FAMILY OR CURRENT RESIDENT." I guess its 15 percent-off discount wasn't exclusively for September birthdays.
Observation: The biggest faux pas was the truncation of my name. If you can't spell it correctly or spell it in its entirety, default to something appropriately and accurately personal such as "Dear Birthday Girl" or "It's Your Birthday!"
Size and Shape
The greetings I received ranged in size from traditional 5˝ x 7˝ cards-in-envelopes to a 41⁄2˝ x 6˝ postcard, 41⁄2˝ x 6˝ self-mailer and 51⁄2˝ square card-in-envelope. The latter looked similar to Hallmark's contemporary Fresh Ink card line, and was from the fashion apparel marketer Chico's, which strives for contemporary, "fresh" branding.