Layering Inserts With Solo Efforts for Bigger Results
A reliable, low-cost marketing tool at any time, insert media typically gets more attention during times of economic adversity—but perhaps not for all the right reasons. While these programs can provide marketers with an alternative to a direct mail campaign, they also can help drive incremental sales as part of a multichannel campaign to the same audience.
"I don't think it's a secret that successful companies, working within their budgets, use insert vehicles to support their brand," says Jackie Gizzo, vice president of insert media and list marketing firm Leon Henry Inc. "Layering direct marketing media does not poach customers from one channel to another, but rather builds the brand for better sales."
What's more, a 2008 ICOM survey found that 67 percent of U.S. consumers tend to use more coupons in a recession, making them more likely to pay attention to insert media vehicles these days. As such, marketers investing in insert media campaigns should give some thought as to how they might leverage the advantages of a multichannel approach.
Timing Your Insert
All insert media types work equally fine for layered media approaches, states Al Stanton, president of insert media management and brokerage firm Stanton Direct Marketing, as long as marketers also follow the best practices of selecting the right programs to reach their audiences with appropriate offers and creative.
Selection of the insert programs used depends on how close the solo campaign drop dates have to be to the exposure period for your inserts. Besides the need to have the printed pieces or ad creative ready for the program owner, certain insert media vehicles offer better timing control than others. For example, says Stanton, co-ops and ride-along programs offer strong control over when insert messages hit the marketplace. Gizzo adds that statement stuffer and package insert programs tend to be pretty predictable when it comes to timing, since they plan their reach by month. But specific program counts are where marketers will find more variation; it's not 100 percent that projected volumes will stick over the course of a year, she explains.
And while competitive categories in popular programs often get reserved for an entire year, that's the exception, says Stanton, leaving more than enough availability for other marketers that wish to pursue layered media campaigns.
Coordinating Your Message
What's the best strategy: match your offer and creative across channels or take a totally new tack? "If you polled 10 mailers, you could probably get 10 different answers," Gizzo chuckles. She herself is divided, noting there is merit to both methods.
Stanton agrees, but leans a little more toward the coordination strategy. "The advantage to coordinating messaging across media is that consistency builds credibility with buyers" as each exposure reinforces the others. And, he emphasizes, it projects a reliable image to the consumer, especially when the message comes in branded third-party vehicles—package insert programs, statement stuffers, ride-alongs—that add an implied endorsement of the host mailer.
That said, marketers must keep in mind that they need to work within the unique parameters of each medium in a multichannel campaign. With inserts, says Gizzo, marketers only have a certain amount of selling real estate versus direct mail and even e-mail campaigns.
The same is true when considering the best offer to promote. With niche products, Stanton advises, marketers have to be careful to secure accurate demographics and geographics to be sure of the audience affinity. Otherwise, marketers can match their offers to their goals; for example, a cataloger or company with a wide product lineup can use an insert to promote several of its top-sellers that are representative of the overall offerings to drive traffic online.
Stanton does caution marketers to approach the creative and offer presentation from the mind-set that consumers might not have seen or won't remember your direct mail piece, e-mail, TV commercial, etc. In keeping, develop the insert to include all pertinent details to sell the action you want taken, and incorporate any specific media crossover elements (e.g., "as seen on TV" icons, before-and-after images) so they make sense without the audience needing exposure to your other media efforts.
Additional Tactics for Success
Marketers considering this layered media approach should work with their brokers to negotiate more favorable pricing when renting a list owner's postal and/or e-mail addresses as well as participating in any of its insert media programs, says Stanton.
Finally, don't forget to measure performance. To help track the effect of layered campaigns, marketers can use special URLs in their insert media that trace visits through to conversion, Stanton says, and then compare results to any rental lists for the same audience. While keycodes are standard elements in insert media campaigns, he explains, they also can get overlooked by consumers during the online checkout process.