Nutrition Action Healthletter: Getting the Outer Opened
According to the great Herschell Gordon Lewis, "the only purpose of the carrier envelope, other than keeping its contents from spilling out onto the street, is to get itself opened." Over the past few decades, the Nutrition Action Healthletter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has proven to be one of the champions at this task, with a succession of outers that have succeeded against various tests.
Maybe you remember the can't-miss teaser "10 Foods You Should Never Eat", the door-opener to a package developed by Dennis Bass and Bill Dugan of CSPI. After 15 years or so, it became fatigued and was eventually replaced by the less-provocative "RSVP" effort in 2008.
As the unlikely victor over other variants showing a heavy emphasis on "unhealthy" foods, this package was mailed in a #10 until 2010, and a #11 afterwards. But in 2012, it was pitted against two test mailings. One effort that mailed in April blasts urgency on the face of the #11 outer: "Act Today! Maximum Discount 50%". Aside from two changes to the letter's Johnson Box and first line, the whole rest of the package was identical to the RSVP control, with no additional call-outs about the special price.
The other test that popped up that same month had a more ambiguous hook: "You Wanted This. Here it is ... " Like the other test, its letter and other components are nearly identical to the RSVP package, with the same two exceptions. There's a less-confrontational Johnson Box: "Life-Saving Information" vs. "We name names!" The first sentence of the letter, instead of starting with the control's "You should have the latest life-saving information ... ", says "You've always wanted life-saving information ... " Thus, it makes the connection with the teaser's promise.
The positive spin — the changing of just a few words on the outer and the letter — is working. The "You Wanted This" package is the current control. Just don't expect it to last 15 years.
Paul Bobnak is the Director of Who's Mailing What!, the most complete library of direct mail and email in the world. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @PaulBobnak.