Insurance Firms Go With Power Premiums
The insurance sector isn't a big premium user, and 2008 bears that out: Up until October (the last month our Who's Mailing What! Archive has recorded), only 9 percent of insurance mailings offered a premium. Notoriously careful with their dollars, insurance companies are known for unflashy direct mail and put only those components into a package that they deem necessary ... often leaving back-end goodies out of the equation.
However, a few big insurance companies slowly may be turning that tide by including a surefire premium and often positioning it even on the outer. Clearly, they've seen it work for some competitors in the past or in other sectors and hope that it helps get those response rates up.
AAA is traditionally a conservative premium user and usually links its premiums with vehicles, naturally-past premiums include a map, a $10 gas card, an atlas and a key chain tag. That all changed in November 2008 when it rolled out a $10 Target gift card. Mentioned on its #10 outer-"Limited Time Free Target Giftcard!"-the response booster also is talked about in the P.S., back of the reply form and body of the letter. In fact, it represents a key tactic to get prospects to request a rate quote: "we're going to send you a Free Target GiftCard worth $10,00 just for requesting your Free Rate Quote. And your Free GiftCard is yours to keep even if you don't switch your insurance." If that's not enough, the buckslip also gives the Target premium the full treatment, including mentioning all the things you can get at Target (Archive code #420-182432-0811B).
High Point Auto Insurance went on a similar detour in early 2008, with a $25 Home Depot gift card after only using $25 gas cards in the past. In its November 2008 effort, it again returned to the $25 gas card premium, perhaps because the Home Depot premium either didn't test well or because it simply proved to be less relevant than the gas card. High Point's gas card, however, comes with a stipulation that is clearly stated on the outer: "We'll send you a $25 Gas Card if our quote is more than you currently pay for the same coverage!" The letter gives it a solid mention, and the buckslip frames it as the "High Point Challenge," describing the three quick steps to getting the premium (Archive code #420-713499-0811).
In a bare bones effort from Hartford, life insurance is being offered to a prospect, and the calculator premium is thrown in there as a "free no obligation" gift to sweeten the deal. Very few words are used for the premium, however, and it doesn't even warrant a picture either. Yet it must be doing something for the insurance giant, for it's been Hartford's mainstay premium for years (Archive code #452-178519-0811).
AIG (yes, that AIG) went with the tried-and-true premium of frequent flier mileage in its September 2008 effort. Partnering with U.S. Airways, its auto insurance division makes this premium the star of the #10 package. Rather than announce itself on the outer, AIG employs a triple-window approach that shows the prospect's address along with his dividend miles number and how much money he's going to save. The Johnson box then gives away the premium deal: "Save $359 on your auto insurance and get 500 Dividend Miles!" How can this be? asks the letter, which devotes much of its copy to the premium: "this is not auto insurance just anyone off the street can get. It's a special program exclusively for Dividend Miles members" (Archive code #420-179427-0809B).
Lastly, Gerber Life Insurance Co. uses several response-boosting techniques surroundings its premium in its oversize 9? x 12? mailing. It's heavily personalized, including two teasers that direct the "[Prospect's] Family" to the premium: "FREE Safety ID Kit for Your Child." It has a detachable sticker on the outer that prospects are asked to affix to the application form inside. In the letter, the premium gets its own subhead and two-paragraph treatment to demonstrate its considerable value to the parent prospect (Archive code #450-174448-0807B).