Ed Note: A Big-Time Test
It's no secret that direct mail doesn't get much respect. After all, it so often gets described as "junk mail" that most folks consider anything in their mailboxes "junk" even if it contains an arts museum mailer than convinces them to join, a copy of a new publication particular to their interests, a cell phone offer that beats their present ones and menus from their local pizza shops that might come in handy for the next Sunday's football game.
Now, there's also likely to be some legitimate junk in there as well, as in stuff you don't want right now—yet another credit card offer (even in these credit-crunched days), a nonprofit that probably got your name from a similar nonprofit and the ubiquitous Bed Bath & Beyond self-mailer for 20 percent off! But an argument could be made that you might want one of those on a different day or month.
Nonetheless, advertisers and retailers are continually on the lookout for new ways to market themselves inside and outside the mailbox because of that junk label. Now, in a major pilot test in five major markets, one of those ways is about to be explored: It's called UPS.
As you know, the United Parcel Service only shows up at your house when it's about to deliver something you ordered or that somebody else is sending to you specially. In other words, there's some excitement attached to that UPS package handed to you by the earth-brown-attired UPS delivery person ... or waiting for you at your doorstep.
For those reasons, it's a package you're guaranteed to open. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for direct marketers to try UPS as a new channel to approach certain prospects. Starting in September, UPS is kicking off its Direct to Door service in five major cities. Rather than extra material in the package, such as buckslips for related products in Amazon.com boxes, marketing components will arrive inside smallish Direct to Door Paks that accompany the merchandise prospects already have ordered.
Like the United States Postal Service, UPS also is dealing with lower package volumes and may be able to bring in more revenue through this experimental channel. But how will prospects react? UPS believes people are more receptive to offers right now, and it's targeting "high-opportunity consumers" who use UPS regularly. Plus, it cleverly made these offers appear as "premium" as possible, with major brands participating.
The goal? To have a CPM comparable or less than an equivalent piece of direct mail, naturally.