When analyzing direct mail efforts, one of the things the Who’s Mailing What! Archive team looks at is offer type, which we break down by acquisition, retention, expire, lead generation or upgrade. Overall, the majority of packages received by the Archive in a given month are acquisition or retention efforts—with a much heavier skew toward the former than the latter. In August, for example, some 94.2 percent of mailings fell into these two categories.
But telecommunications is one sector that does not always follow this norm. Sure, the sector sends its share of acquisition packages, but it puts some heft into its upgrade efforts as well. In August, upgrades accounted for 17.4 percent of all telecom mailings. Compare that to the other sectors, which combined to mail just 1.3 percent upgrade efforts, and it’s easy to see that if you want to study upgrade offers, this is the sector to watch.
One of the reasons for all these upgrades is the recent trend in telecom toward bundled services, such as cable and Internet, home and wireless phone lines, etc. Verizon is one mailer that has invested in such programs—and done the direct mail to back them up. For example, the service provider mailed a hefty 6˝ x 9˝ self-mailer to current wireless customers inviting them to “get maximum connection for work and play” by subscribing to its high-speed wireless Internet for computers and PDAs or its entertainment-focused V CAST system. The mailing also offers customizable plans to meet the customer’s bundling needs (Archive code #808-636941-0608D).
Another Verizon mailing, a more slender 4-1/4˝ x 9-1/4˝ envelope effort, includes just a one-page letter asking the recipient to upgrade to a bundled fiber-optic Internet and phone service plan. “Want more from your Internet and phone service?” asks the letter’s salutation (Archive code #808-636770-0608A). A similarly sized effort includes a letter that begins by thanking the customer for choosing “America’s most reliable wireless,” and then goes on to sell him on an “exclusive” upgraded plan for best customers. It also offers to add 100 minutes to his plan every month at no cost if he signs a three-year contract. This offer is repeated on a dedicated insert. A second insert offers him a $30 savings off of a phone upgrade (Archive code #808-636941-0608B). On the B-to-B front, Verizon mailed a 6˝ x 9˝ effort—which again includes only a letter—offering to let a business customer upgrade to its Freedom for Business plan (Archive code #808-636770-0608B).
AT&T upgraded a customer’s available services in an effort to win him back in a 6˝ x 9˝ August envelope mailing. The letter begins by referencing what appears to be customer comments: “After you left, this is what you said: ‘Give me value.’ ‘Give me a consistent monthly bill.’” It goes on to assure this lost customer that his needs have been met and surpassed by a new calling plan and urge him to come back into the fold (Archive code #808-171624-0608).
Within this sector, the theme of upgrading does not apply just to current customers, however. Many telecoms play on the concept of upgraded services to go after prospects.
Time Warner Cable, for example, mailed two postcards in August, one promising that its Road Runner service will show the prospect “what fast looks like” (Archive code #837-173384-0608A), and another inviting the prospect to “upgrade to an Internet connection over five times faster than DSL” (Archive code #837-173384-0608B). Working Assets continues to promote its new wireless service with a more esoteric take on the upgrade: “All wireless services are about the same. All wireless companies are not. ... Introducing the nationwide network that connects with your values” (Archive code #808-636739-0608).
One to Watch: The nature of telecom products makes it hard for a direct mail effort to actually show how a product really works, but Verizon took a stab at that with an August self-mailer for its VZ Navigator service (Archive code #808-636941-0608C). One exterior side of the effort teases the service: “If you don’t know how to get there, your phone does. … Enjoy real-time, audible directions right on your phone.” The other exterior panel introduces the offer—30 free days of access to the navigator service—and includes a reply-by date in the call to action. But it’s when the recipient opens the self-mailer that things get interesting.
An audio chip implanted inside the mailer—which lends some extra weight and “lumpiness” to the piece—is activated when the package is opened. A computerized voice similar to those found in GPS systems says “Prepare to turn right. [pause] Turn right. [pause] Your destination is approaching on the left. [pause] You have arrived at your destination.” The two interior panels may explain the features and benefits of the navigational system and promote the multimedia Motorola RAZR as a great phone to use with the service, but it’s the voice—demonstrating how clear and audible the system is—that really sells the product.