What's Working in Freemiums
A Roundup of low-cost freemiums to fit any mailer's creative strategy
By Richard Goldsmith
Much has changed in the world since I wrote about popular Freemiums in an article for the April 1998 issue of Target Marketing, a sister publication of Inside Direct Mail. Most important, for the purposes of this article, is the development of the Internet as a marketing force.
Back then, direct marketers were using all manner of freebies in their direct mail efforts to stand out and to elicit a response. It was not uncommon to see seed packets, wallet-sized calendars, jewelry pins and paperback books on topics related to the marketer's offer (Covenant House and Agora were the main users of this type of Freemium).
But direct mail costs were on the rise, making less expensive e-mail campaigns and Web sites quite appealing. Unfortunately, so many companies were seduced by the Internet's allure that the medium has become far too crowded for anyone's message to easily stand out.
Now, direct mail, after losing some favor with marketers for several years, has come back strong! We all know the trials and tribulations of acquiring new customers through telemarketing and e-mail. So, mail once again has become many direct marketers' medium of choice for customer acquisition.
The Internet, however, has changed consumers, which has changed the
effectiveness of Freemiums. As veteran copywriter and direct marketing consultant Herschell Gordon Lewis recently said, "The Web has corrupted the word 'free' beyond any evils [direct mailers] smashed onto it in the past. People expect to get something for nothing."
The commoditization of the "free" offer component, I think, is the reason why hardly any Freemium or premium is working as well as it used to.
"People gobble up the Freemium and don't even say thanks," Lewis continued.
Don't Throw in the TowelUnless It's a Freemium That Raises Response
While Freemiums may not be performing as strongly as they have in the past, they do work. The trick is finding the freebie that is cost effective, i.e., any item you insert into a mailing that increases the ROI. If the goody costs a penny and does the trick, so be it. If it costs $10 and returns $11 plus a new customer, great!
So what are some of the Freemiums that are working right now?
Believe it or not, these Freemiums still work, and for more types of direct marketers than nonprofits. Within the past year or so, a few enterprising publishers and financial service firms have integrated sheets of address labels into their customer acquisition efforts.
Here's a new twist on address label stickers: Make them a little larger and format them to be used as identification tags, as in "This is the property of ..."
Ballpark price: $165/M (100M)-$220/M (50M), including insertion costs.
Ballpark price: $240/M (50M)-$275/M (100M).
Ballpark price: $9.10/M (100M)-$14.50/M (50M).
removable, clean release and permanent. If you're using a sticker with permanent adhesive, it's ideal to warn the recipient. It's easy to print pretty, four-color stickers but still make them functional. For example, you could personalize them with local emergency notification phone numbers. For children's offers, stickers are a nice freebie that the parent can share with his or her child.
Ballpark price: $53/M (100M)-$62/M (50M).
enclosed maple tree seeds to help kids get involved in environmental preservation.
An Involvement Device That Works Like a Freemium
Freemiums and Postage Concerns
One last word of advice on including Freemiums in your direct mail efforts is to avoid increasing your postage. Many Freemiums might make the outbound mailing incompatible with postal automation requirements. Varying thickness and rigidity are two such automation no-nos.
Don't be afraid to brainstorm ideas for Freemiums beyond those listed in this article, but you want to make sure they are flat and flexible.
Dick Goldsmith is chairman of The Horah Group, a direct marketing agency specializing in direct mail. He can be reached at (212) 921-4521, ext. 207, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.