Production: An Ode to the Self-Mailer
You’ve heard the old line, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Well, the economy couldn’t be much tougher, and that’s what makes this the ideal time to get moving. If you don’t have a test in the works, create one and get it out there as soon as possible. Better yet, come up with several. And if you haven’t tested formats in a while, you might want to consider adding a self-mailer to the media mix. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results you achieve.
Oh sure, in certain marketing circles the belief still exists that envelope packages, with few exceptions, always perform better than self-mailers. Thus, many direct marketers exclusively test package components, colors and messaging after they’ve thoroughly tested lists and offers. They don’t even give self-mailers a thought.
A few years ago, I decided to personally test some self-mailers against direct mail packages for one of my firm’s insurance clients. My theory was, mailed in quantities, self-mailers would provide a higher ROI, despite a lower response rate, because they would be much more economical to produce. The decrease in response would be offset by the production savings. Boy, was I wrong.
After conducting the test (twice), the self-mailer outperformed the traditional package (outer envelope, letter, brochure, reply form, reply envelope and lift note) nearly two to one. I subsequently tested again in a new market with the same results. The ROI soared thanks to the power of the self-mailer (see “Insurance Firm Holds the Envelope” in sidebar).
Not Your Grandfather’s Self-Mailer
Since then, manufacturing processes have improved dramatically, and self-mailers have become even more viable. Many printers now can nest reply envelopes and multiple inserts, tabbing the piece completely, which allows the self-mailer to act as a quasi-mailing package. As the Web has grown and played an increasing role in multichannel campaigns, self-mailers are being used to drive traffic to Web sites and specific microsites, allowing the Web page to do the majority of the selling.