3 Tests to Update the Mailbox
What have you done for your prospects lately? Using gifts to light the spark of interest in a mail piece is one of the oldest practices in the direct mail world, but this approach may need a little updating in your next planned campaign to get the results you're looking for.
Here are three tests worth doing before pushing out the next campaign.
Premium vs. Freemium
OK, it's not the Bears against the Packers, but there are some similarities. The rivalry goes back a long way, both sides deserve a lot of respect and many people are split on which one will get the job done better. (I'm a Bears and premium guy, personally.)
The freemium, of course, is what's given up front, in the package, such as a bookmark, address labels, calendar, etc. The premium is usually given on the back end, and usually is more high-end. Items like a fleece jacket, an umbrella, a book or clock are just a few examples.
Testing one against the other opens the door to various questions, such as how can a mailer know it's not simply a great gift that's attracting response rather than when it's sent? And do freemiums cheapen an organization's image in the mail and create the "keep gift, toss mailer" kind of prospect?
Bottom line: in this test situation aim to determine if ROI is best achieved with a free gift physically in the mailing, or whether you're getting enough orders to offset the extra costs of a premium and its postage. Save the "But which gift is the best?" for later.
Matching to Offer vs. Matching to Prospect
Our industry has bandied on this subject for years, but there never seems to be one conclusive answer to the eternal query. According to Judy Mann, president of Providence, R.I.- based freemium supplier Capital Designs, what seems to be happening now is a hybrid born out of branding. "I think your premium can be creative and maybe a little different, but still tie into the organization or the marketing strategy," she says.
However, "creative" can mean different things to different people, and mailers run the risk of striking a discordant note in their packages. Freelance copywriter Bob Bly asserts that not only must the gift be desirable to the customer, but it also must be relevant to the product or proposition at the same time. Adding further to the debate, some marketers eschew matching a premium to the offer in favor of useful, more generic items like flashlights and calculators.
Bottom line: Let your industry be your guide. Offer-driven, utilitarian gifts (whitepapers, bookmarks) could work well in the B-to-B or financial sectors, but nonprofits and publishing have a little more leeway.
Switching It Up vs. Dropping It
If a package starts losing steam, there are a number of choices to make as far as an update goes. And with creative change in the wind, says Bly, a mailer often requires a new premium to deliver on what the new copy promises. This could be something as simple as a new freemium design, says Mann, or even cycling different gifts throughout the year.
Yet, this also is a time to ask yourself, "Is there ever a time when you should phase out freemiums and premiums?" says Mann. "If a customer isn't responding to the gifts or [is] telling you they don't want them, a mailer should always listen," she concludes.
Bottom line: If your ROI is still hitting the skids, ditching the gift could be a good option. However, before taking such drastic measures, consider the whole of the package — no element works independently of itself. Try promoting the premium more prominently, using a freemium instead or simply try a different gift altogether.