When postal rates go up, catalogers sometimes investigate alternative delivery methods to get their offer in front of customers at a lower cost. But proceed with caution on non postal catalog delivery.
The delivery of your mailing is more important than your message; a superior or inferior message is completely wasted if it never gets in front of prospects on your list. There are elements of science and art involved in reaching a balance between too little or too much novelty in your delivery method.
Insuring that your prospects understand what you are doing will prepare them for the moment their need for your product crosses from potential to actual and they pick up the phone or visit your Website.
I looked into alternative delivery methods several years ago. A monthly mailing’s response levels appeared to have reached a consistent, year-over-year level. A vendor offered delivery to a consumer household’s front walk or front door to draw attention to the mailing. The cost would be less per piece than my current postage. My mail piece would be included with several others in a clear plastic bag and put in front of the door or hung on the doorknob.
I was assured that the consumers would start expecting to get my monthly catalog this way and respond better because they would view it separately from their regular mail. I probed a little and asked if the prospect conversion and response rates wouldn’t drop when my mailer started showing up in a new way. The vendor agreed that my rates would drop, possibly to nothing for a while.
I asked how long had the other users of this alternate delivery method found it took for their response rates to get back to previous levels and exceed the previous levels? The vendor said it could take six to eight weeks, and that there was no guarantee that I would exceed my current response rate, just that it seemed likely because my mailings would stand out in my prospects’ eyes.
A quick cost/benefit analysis showed me that I would lose more in the month and a half to two months of reduced response than I would save in several quarters’ postage. I declined to test the alternate delivery service.
You invest your creativity and money in educating your prospects about your services, products, shipping efficiency, and comprehensive branding message. Once they have grown accustomed to receiving your mailings a certain way, changes are likely to reduce their attention to those marketing elements.
I have wondered since my encounter with alternative delivery if it might have pushed response higher after the initial adjustment period. But significant investment had already been made in these other educational elements. That education of the potentially profitable prospect list members’ minds would have been a terrible thing to waste.
Bill Singleton writes “Show Me The Data” each month for Lists and Data Strategies. He is a manager of analytical services at The Allant Group, a database marketing and consulting services firm in Naperville, IL . He can be reached at: 630-579-3448 and firstname.lastname@example.org.