Secrets of the decade's most successful controls.
What follows is an analysis of the 257 Grand Controls cataloged by the Who's Mailing What! Archive between 1995 and 2004, their similarities and their differences. You will not find catalog or retail traffic builders in this research, because they are one-offs that do not achieve control status; also, few B-to-B mailings remain consistent for a three-year span, so this sector is not represented significantly in this coverage.
What you will find are campaigns that are worth millions to their owners, who've spent countless testing dollars refining their efforts to produce these blockbusters—and the secrets of their success are a gold mine for you.
Controls Get Personal
The trend of tailoring direct mail to talk to recipients on an individual basis is a relatively new development that is not yet represented with long-term controls. But that doesn't mean successful direct marketers haven't made ample use of the personalization technologies at their disposal in the past 10 years.
Analysis of the 257 Grand Controls showed that 33.9 percent of these blockbuster mailings were personalized, compared to only 20.5 percent of all direct mail dropped during this same decade.
One of the reasons for this difference is that Grand Control mailings tended to be produced inline more often than efforts in the general mail stream. But, overall, Grand Control mailers, such as Easton Press (for more on this control, see page 31), were more likely to leverage personalization to get the prospect inside the envelope or to forge a connection via the letter.
Premiums and Freemiums Work
The biggest predictor of success between long-term controls and those that burn out within two years can be boiled down to one word: gifts.
Grand Control winners offered premiums or freemiums in their efforts nearly 400 percent more often than their general mail counterparts. Specifically, 44.7 percent of the Grand Controls used such incentives as name and address labels, special reports, tote bags, plush animals, flower bulbs, stickers, calendars, and calculators to drive response. Only 9 percent of the regular mail stream contained efforts that featured this technique.