Online Goes Offline
Variety is the spice of life.
Never put all of your eggs in one basket.
There's more than one way to skin a cat.
For hundreds of years, adages have spoken of the virtues of diversification. Each month, the Who's Mailing What! Archive receives a number of mailings from multichannel companies that take this advice to heart by using direct mail as a medium for developing relationships with their online customers.
In April, the Archive received a mailing from 1-800-Flowers.com (838ONEIHF0404). Sent in response to a customer's first online purchase, the mailing is aimed at converting a first-time user into a lifetime customer by inviting him to save 15 percent on his next order (using a promotional code). The front of the 6" x 9" envelope is personalized with the message:
Ned, Thank You for shopping with us!
Inside is a welcome package consisting of a folded letter with five full-color, double-sided 1-800-Flowers.com inserts tucked inside. Outside of the folded letter are paid inserts for Discover Card, The Sharper Image and Proactiv Solution.
The letter, which unlike the envelope is not personalized, starts by thanking the customer for ordering from 1-800-Flowers.com and offering him 15 percent off his next purchase. The letter goes on to promote the company's many conveniences: 24-hour access; variety; expert gift advisors; online order tracking; same-day delivery; and gift reminder service.
Four of the accompanying 1-800-Flowers.com inserts feature images of some of its most popular giftsroses, sunflowers, bonsai trees, fruit baskets, monogrammed bearsalong with prices and ordering information. Each insert also uses the upper, right-hand corner hot spot to remind the customer of the 15 percent he can save off his next purchase and the necessary promo code.
The fifth insert promotes the gift reminder service, which sends automated e-mails to remind enrollees of important upcoming dates, such as anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. Although this is an Internet-based service, 1-800-Flowers.com offers customers the ability to sign up for this service online or over the phone.
But why respond to an online purchase with a direct mail package rather than an e-mail, when e-mail is less expensive and the customer has indicated an affinity for the Internet as a mode of communication? Because "users who interact with your company over multiple channels are more loyal than single-channel customers," writes Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group, in "Multi-Channel Marketing: Channibalism?" He continues, "to be a multi-channel company, you first need to provide users with the channels to use." Sending direct mail to online users can be a simple way to introduce them to your other channels.
Although a representative from 1-800-Flowers.com was not available for comment, the Archive has been receiving mailings from the gift retailer since 1994, which indicates to us that direct mail is a channel it and its customers are very comfortable using.
1-800-Flowers.com is a multichannel company that takes orders over the phone, online and in its more than 100 locations across the United States. According to the gift retailer's 2003 Annual Report, online and telephone sales account for roughly the same amount of the company's overall revenue. Sending a welcome packet in response to an online purchase not only allows 1-800-Flowers.com to bring its other channels to the customer's attention, but also puts attractive, full-color, glossy images into its customers' hands, allowing customers to choose which channel is right for them.