IBD Stands Out With a Self-Mailer
Take even a cursory glance into the Who's Mailing What! Archive's newspaper publishing category (255), and you will see that this sector makes very limited use of the self-mailer format. (To be more precise, just 15.5 percent of 2004's newspaper efforts were self mailers, and more than two-thirds of those were double or triple postcards.)
Knowing that, you can understand why a 16-page, passport-themed self mailer from Investor's Business Daily (IBD) caught our eye right away when it showed up in the Archive's February mail stream (Archive code #255-172928-0502). And that's exactly what Janet Beardon, manager of direct response for IBD, was hoping for when she tested the piece in the summer of 2004. "We didn't want to put it in an envelope and hide it," explains Beardon. "This effort stands out in the mailbox."
That it stands out is in part due to its passport theme, which Beardon states was the guiding force behind the development of this mailing, which is the first in a five-part conversion series mailed out First Class immediately after a prospect signs up for a free two-week trial to IBD. The cover of the 5" x 73/4" booklet has a blue marbled background that resembles a passport cover with the teaser:
Investor's Business Daily
Your Passport to Financial Security
The theme is continued on the interior pages through the use of a blue, gold and ecru color scheme that is reminiscent of a passport, and passport-stamp-style call outs that draw attention to important information, such as, "Your Free Trial Is Now Active. See inside for instant access to investors.com."
But while the style may be what first catches the prospect's eye, the substance is the real focus of the mailing. The first page of the interior is a letter from Founder and Chair William J. O'Neil, which plays on prospects' key motivators for subscribing to and reading the newspaper:
Imagine a truly worry-free retirement. Your home paid off, your children's college tuition covered and enough income to actively pursue your dreams. ... And with discipline and persistence, you too, can achieve true financial independence.
Subsequent pages give ample explanation of the features found in the print publication and the value-added tools available on IBD's subscribers-only Web site. According to Beardon, this package contains so much in-depth explanation of the product because it was designed to be more of a tutorial than past welcome packages, which were more introductory in nature.
The control that this self-mailer went up against last summer was a 6" x 9" envelope package that included simply a letter and a brochure that introduces the prospect to the paper, thanks him for registering for the free two-week trial, asks him to convert to a paid subscription and offers him a premiuma book, "The Successful Investor," written by O'Neilfor doing so (Archive code #255INBUDA0204B).
The self mailer, on the other hand, features much more information, such as a section-by-section breakdown of the newspaper's editorial; a 10-minute, five-step plan for getting the most value out of IBD; and an outline of all the tools available online. All of the information in this mailer, asserts Beardon, make it an important part of the conversion process, as it is a tool the sales team can refer to in future communications and customers can save for future reference. To promote response, the effort also includes a perfed reply form and a bind-in BRE.
According to Beardon, the self-mailer format handily beat the 6" x 9" control in terms of response and ROI, and after extensive testing, the effort rolled out as IBD's new welcome control in the fall of 2004.