The Power of Inserts
With more than 450 million mail-order packages being delivered annually, package insert programs are a versatile and cost-effective medium that deserves more marketing attention. Perhaps the biggest challenge is creating a package insert that grabs the customer's attention, which is likely to be more focused on what she ordered than on a package insert.
You also need to keep in mind your insert probably isn't the only one in the box. Established programs normally insert from four to eight pieces and may have waiting lists, particularly during the holidays. Some programs provide a special carrier envelope for the inserts, so they aren't scattered throughout the box.
Here are four ideas to get you started.
Idea #1: Discount Offers
Because the package insert format must be lightweight and simple in design, you need to grab your reader's attention with an irresistible offer in a strong headline. When in doubt, the word "free" or a significant discount makes an effective offer.
For example, Current Inc. used an insert to cross-sell checks to stationery and gift customers. The offer is for free birthday cards and gift wrap with a first order for checks.
Idea #2: Samples
In your own packages, you can insert whatever weight you're willing to pay for. For example, Esolis Asian Skin Care inserts a full-size catalog, plus a cellophane-wrapped packet of product samples along with a reply card that requests referrals. This use of free samples is an effective technique for getting the customer to open the packet, read and complete the referral card. The catalog can be used either for customer re-orders or as a pass-along to an interested friend.
Make sure to source code your package inserts so you can track and measure their effectiveness. If possible, code pieces by the month they're inserted so you can track not only which programs work, but which months are most effective.
Idea #3: Thank-You Cards
If you're shipping your own company's packages without in-house inserts of any kind, you're missing an opportunity to strengthen branding and solidify customer relationships.
This past holiday season, Peruvian Connection included a thank-you card and a mini booklet that educated the package recipient about the beauty, benefits and care of alpaca and pima cotton. In keeping with the season, it also inserted a blank gift tag featuring the company's signature llama. Not only does the information provided add to the value of the purchase , but the cards are perceived as a thoughtful extra touch.
Idea #4: Cross-Sell Offers
Amazon.com uses package inserts to help solidify its customer relationships while cross-selling additional products. Its Amazon Kids' Movie Fun Book is a combination kids' activity book and mini catalog of DVDs and videos. Since you can't control which outside panel of a package insert will be seen first, Amazon covered its bases by blasting the $5 discount offer on both sides.
As with all direct marketing efforts, be sure to test. Start by developing a strong package insert offer communicated with successful creative, then test the same piece in different package insert programs and different selects to build your own successful program.