Renewals Let the Light In
As most direct mail gurus will affirm, the first variable to test when response flags is the outer envelope (perhaps after the offer, depending on who you talk to). Recently, the Who's Mailing What! Archive has logged some interesting subscription-renewal appeals that employ the use of multiple poly windows on the carriera newer, bolder strategy for some circulation professionals.
Two in particular come to us from Conde Nast's GQ and The Atlantic. Both efforts adopt a refreshing approach to the subscription-renewal package by letting a little light in. Publishers normally take a formulaic approach for renewals that consists of a #7-3/4 envelope package with a single address window and varied teaser copy for each sequenced effort.
The former effort, a 4-1/4" x 9" outer-envelope package, features a small poly window on the lower left-hand side of the carrier to show the exact date on which the current subscription will end (710GQMAGA0504). GQ also uses a meter mark in the upper right-hand cornera feature not generally seen on renewal packagesfor a more formal look. The effort offers this subscriber a one-year subscription for $15 or a two-year subscription for $28.
The latter, a 5" x 9-1/4" outer-envelope package, features a second poly window to also achieve a formal business look (710ATLANT0504).
With two windows, the mail piece resembles a bill, and might make it into recipients' "do-not-toss pile." The Atlantic uses the extra window on its plain white outer for return-address copy only, where the publication prominently displays its logo. Here, The Atlantic extends a reinstatement offer of 10 issues for $24.95.
"As new business acquisition becomes harder and more expensive, marketers are willing to spend more on retention, because they know it's going to be a lot cheaper to retain a subscriber they have than to replace that name somewhere else," says Cary Zel, president of ProCirc and former consumer marketing manager of Time and Scientific American. According to Zel, clients of ProCirc recently have been testing certain variablesincluding multiple poly windowson their outer envelopes, in hopes of driving response. ProCirc's clients have tested the following dual-window approaches:
Reply-By Date: The publisher gives the subscriber a deadline by which to respond;
Personalization: The publisher displays a subscriber's name or gift recipient's name (Example: "Don't you want to renew John Sample's gift subscription to Time magazine at this special rate?"); and
Cover Shots: More fit for the 6" x 9" format, an image of the magazine shows through a poly window.
Says Zel, "This technique is just another way to creatively stretch your marketing dollars. Anything you can do to get noticed in the mail stream."