Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: QR Codes, PURLs Net Big Returns for AICPA
Challenge: Upsell members.
Solution: Create a cross-channel campaign using QR Codes and PURLs in direct mail.
During the height of the 2011 tax season, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) campaign to upsell selected members on the AICPA Tax Section was in full swing.
Nearly 41,000 members of the Durham, N.C.-based trade association received postcards with personalized URLs and QR Codes directing them to landing pages. On the personalized landing pages, accountants found ungated, downloadable checklists that specifically dealt with that year's tax code. Plus, they discovered they could sign up to win a Netbook.
While this brand recognition was great, AICPA Marketing Manager Charlie McClamroch says the campaign's main objective was to upsell members who were interested in joining the AICPA Tax Section. And between Jan. 15 and Feb. 28, the run of the campaign, 484 members did just that—yielding a campaign ROI of 260 percent.
"It was our most successful direct mail that we've ever done [for the Tax Section] other than the AICPA dues mailers, where you have to pay or your membership is terminated," McClamroch says.
The record-breaking results happened, he says, because AICPA segmented the selected members. Then the organization provided convenient and personalized cross-channel response mechanisms that didn't just tell members about the benefits of joining the Tax Section, but showed them by providing the checklists.
To execute the campaign, in the fall 2010 AICPA hired New York-based direct mail marketing solutions provider Prompt Mailers, which used cross-channel marketing software from Irvine, Calif.-based MindFireInc.
Then AICPA readied its list, excluded the 25,000 existing section participants. It included recipients who had already shown behaviors indicating possible upsell interest—past purchase of tax-related AICPA products, tax newsletter subscriptions and opting in for tax code information on their membership profiles.
AICPA segmented this remaining list three ways based on job roles. That information, already available in the AICPA membership database, allowed different messaging to be sent to sole practitioners, accounting firm partners and uncategorized CPAs.
But, while Prompt was ready to mail in December, the checklists slated for the landing pages had to wait for a decision on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Campaign literature finally entered mailboxes on Jan. 15.
From there, AICPA deployed five emails—removing landing page visitors before each send. On the landing page, checklist downloads were the most popular action, followed by section join-ups and, coming in a distant third, participation in the Netbook contest.
In the final evaluation, the main thing McClamroch says he'll do differently next year is start the campaign earlier. Of course, that's only if the tax laws decide to cooperate.