When I e-mailed 99 circulation directors and consultants for this article, my response rate was a big, fat zero. It seems freemium users are tight-lipped about their successes. One publishing company achieved a 10 percent lift using a bumper sticker and plans to test an in-line package, but didn’t want its name disclosed. Another publisher polybags its magazine as part of an acquisition mailing, but maintains this is not a true freemium. A third magazine known for its freemiums asked not to be mentioned, no reason given. And on it goes.
But after turning over many rocks, I found three freemium users who were less gun shy than their compatriots. Carol LePere, circulation director and associate publisher of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance told me about the publication’s new control, which includes what she calls the “Crazy Rich Aunt Letter” and some nice-looking, peel-off, address labels. The actual title is “Money-Making Secrets of My Crazy Rich Aunt,” which Kiplinger’s lifted from a 9˝ x 12˝ package mailed 10 years ago.
For about a year before the rollout of this effort, Kiplinger’s was using a four-color, acqueous-coated freemium insert, “8 Steps to a Better Retirement,” as part of its statement of benefits package. Better copy yielded a 10 percent lift over its prior freemium, “12 Grade-A Ways to Build a Nest Egg for Retirement.”
Craig Kunaschk, associate product manager at Guideposts, says that for at least seven years, the control for Daily Guideposts included a bookmark. This year, a combination of book plates and address labels beat the bookmark. “The new package received 19 percent more orders and 40 percent more requests for additional copies over the bookmark package,” Kunaschk says. Both were self-mailers.
He also mentions that one of Guideposts’ continuity book clubs tested a refrigerator magnet. Although the magnet lifted response by 15 percent, the lift wasn’t enough to cover costs, and it was beaten by a sampler that included little stories and jokes from the book.