Packing in the Freemiums to Bolster Response
When up against a sea of direct mail packages offering freemiums with a "give a little to get a little" mentality, it can pay to have a mailing that gives a little more.
Mailings that do just that, from the Columban Fathers and the American Humane Association, showed up in the Who's Mailing What! Archive in October. Both nonprofits give prospects that "little more" with double freemiums of address labels and greeting cards.
The 8" x 5-1/2" American Humane Association (AHA) mailing holds five holiday cards and envelopes, six address labels and holiday stickers, and a 7" x 10", two-page letter. Pictured on the carrier with copy reading, "SEE INSIDE! ... A great way to show you care ... Your 2004 Holiday Cards Enclosed," is a partially opened Christmas greeting card with a kitten nuzzled in between two dogs above a salutatory "Peace on Earth." The same image is pictured larger on the back of the outer (Archive code #610-177313-0410).
The Columban Fathers mailing, which went out to about 300,000 prospects, is nearly identical to the AHA mailing in size and format, differing only in its use of a 3-1/2" x 6-1/2" four-page insert in place of a letter (Archive code #609-634567-0410). Enclosed in a 7-1/2" x 5" outer with the teaser, "FREE gift inside, for you!" alongside a thumbnail version of one of the
enclosed greeting cards, the package gives prospects 17 address labels, four fall-themed stickers, and five blank greeting cards and envelopes.
According to Jeff Norton, director of operations for the Missionary Society of St. Columban, this is the first time Columban Fathers has mailed a fall- or Thanksgiving-themed package, as it typically mails prospects a Christmas package from October to December. The newly themed mailing, says Norton, is due to a decline in response rates over the past few years.
Sinking response rates is not the only challenge Columban Fathers faces in its direct mail program. According to Norton, a new donor database system acquired in the late '90s enabled the organization to conduct in-depth analysis of its direct mail efforts, which revealed that it was "losing the battle of attrition" and wasn't bringing on new donors to offset the loss.
"We concluded that if we could offer two freemiums and still keep our unit cost low, we would realize a lift in response rate and an improved net per donor," says Norton.
The piece, adds Norton, has seen positive initial results, and he anticipates a 3 percent to 3.5 percent response rate.
Boosting response rates, minimizing expenses and maximizing returns were the goals behind displaying the card graphics on the outer, according to Sara Spaulding, vice president, marketing and communications at AHA. The challenge was displaying the card that would most lure prospects.
"There were so many adorable animals to choose from in our holiday card program that we thought adding additional photographs might engage recipients to the point of opening the envelope," says Spaulding. "We are very pleased with the results of our holiday mailing in which two images were used. It has proven very effective for us."
Norton agrees, referring to the old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
"When the artwork and graphics come together properly, there is a natural enticement to open the package rather than toss it," he says.