Test ‘Up’ in Direct Mail Vouchers
An increasingly popular direct mail format, the voucher has infiltrated almost every sector from financial, to publishing and even fundraising. What makes this down and dirty format tick is its low production and design costs and high ROI. Yet, many marketers hope to avoid format fatigue and develop new controls by testing up—i.e., adding more value—in voucher formats.
“I think vouchers are sort of going to fatigue … I think product mail really has to differentiate itself from the financial services, and I’m not sure the voucher format is the best way to do that,” explains Simon Aronin, associate publisher for Scientific American. Aronin believes vouchers are evolving into a statement of benefits with bells and whistles, and says he has a few tests in the pipeline. “We’re just looking for things to add to a voucher package to make it less voucher-like but still low cost,” he says.
“If everyone starts to jump on the voucher bandwagon … eventually what’s going to start to work is something that’s larger, or even smaller, has more elements in it or is more colorful,” shares Nancy Harhut, SVP and managing director of relationship marketing at Hill Holiday Direct. Recently, Harhut tested new creative on a voucher package, first adding a Kraft-style outer envelope—which returned a 20 percent lift in response—and then adding a Post-it note to the outside for a 25 percent lift in response.
The initial intent in using vouchers was to curb costs, but the packages’ continued success in the marketplace encourages more experimentation. “If you put in a little buckslip and it works, why not test it with a two-page letter or a four-page letter? People don’t want to increase costs, but they often don’t want to find out if a more expensive package will work,” says Josh Manheimer, copywriter and owner of Norwich, Vt.-based J.C. Manheimer & Co.
To get the most out of a voucher, test new creative and elements. “I think that, yes, some [vouchers] will become long-standing controls … and smart direct marketers are always testing to figure out what the next control is going to be,” concludes Harhut.