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Key Takeaways:

  • Offers play a critical role in direct mail success.
  • Low-value, irrelevant, hard-to-understand offers can depress response.
  • Direct mail responders typically convert at higher rates and have a greater lifetime value (LTV),
    so they deserve stronger offers.

Listen to the podcast: Addressed for Success

Why your direct mail prospects deserve a better offer

Mike Gunderson (Gunderson Direct CEO) and I were talking about some trends in direct mail recently. We agreed on one crucial direct mail (DM) trend headed in the wrong direction — offers.

The rule of thumb is that the success of a mailing is based 40% on targeting, 40% on the offer, and 20% on the creative. Whether you believe the specific breakouts or not, they are a good indicator of the relative importance of the three components of every mailing.

Targeting advances using address-based data — such as new data sources and digital and machine-learning modeling integration — have dramatically improved our targeting ability. Likewise, printing advancements, the ability to deploy variable data, and retargeting mailings have improved creative and message relevance.

But, offers? The art and science behind motivating offers have largely been abandoned out of laziness and tightened budgets. It’s a shame because better targeting and messaging capabilities beg for a motivating offer to close the response loop.

Why Offers Are (More) Important in Direct Mail

Direct mail offers were traditionally richer than those in other channels. Partly, it’s a means of overcoming response friction — you can’t click on a piece of mail, so prospects have to move channels to respond. But it’s also because marketers have proven over and over again that the very best prospects — the ones most likely to convert and have a higher LTV — come through the mail.

Weak offers, which can depress response, fall into the following categories:

  • They’re undifferentiated from the competition.
  • The same offer appears on your website for non-mail prospects.
  • Multiple offer choices force the prospect to think rather than respond.
  • The offer’s too weak to motivate action — whether it’s monetary or informational.
  • They’re hard to understand, and how to take advantage of the offer is unclear.
  • There’s no expiration date or reason to act in a timely manner.
  • There’s no offer at all!

The job of the offer is to motivate prospects to act on their direct mail… NOW!

The three keys to every offer are:

  1. It motivates your target audience to take action.
  2. The recipient knows it will disappear if not taken advantage of in a limited time.
  3. It’s easy to understand and act on.

Time to Think Differently About Offers

The very best offers lie at the intersection of overall customer value, enhancing, or at least synching with, a company’s value proposition, recognizing where the prospect is in their buying journey, and, of course, offering enough perceived value to move the prospect to the next step in your sales funnel.

Too often, the offer is an afterthought to the mail plan. That’s a shame. Great offers can be the key to mailing success. Apply the same strategic and testing rigor that drives your other DM disciplines to offers and see how your response rate improves.

Need some ideas? Here are 75 offer ideas you can implement in your DMs starting now. And, like many compelling offers, they’re FREE!

75 Offer Ideas

In no particular order, the following list is one we’ve developed for our internal use. Use it as is or as a springboard for other offer ideas. Feel free to reach back and help us add to it!

  1. Bounce back (a new offer extended after the initial sale)
  2. Bundling
  3. Buy before the price increases or the sale/enrollment period ends
  4. Buy now, ship later
  5. Buy one, get one free (BOGOF)
  6. Cashback
  7. Charitable donation (a $ amount or % of each sale is donated to a specified charity)
  8. Clearance sale
  9. Cross-sell (aka add-on or piggyback)
  10. Customer appreciation sale (special deals for past/current customers only)
  11. Delayed billing (aka “bill me later” or “no payment until XXX date”)
  12. Deluxe offer (includes limited editions and exclusive product upgrades or personalization)
  13. Discount (test both % off and $ off discounts)
  14. Discount on the second product
  15. Discounted or free membership to a club/association
  16. Double discount days (offers or coupons have double value on specific days)
  17. Double your money back
  18. Early bird discount
  19. Enrollment period
  20. Exclusive/bonus (offer, gift, sample)
  21. Fast 50 (or 100 or another number — special deal for the first XXX responders)
  22. Free accessory or complimentary item with purchase (e.g., buy shampoo, get conditioner free)
  23. Free assessment (e.g., policy review, Can you draw the pirate? Take our quiz)
  24. Free assistance or technical support
  25. Free coupons
  26. Free demonstration
  27. Free download
  28. Free estimate (no obligation)
  29. Free Gift
  30. Free gift card with purchase
  31. Free gift for attending (e.g., sales presentation, test drive, etc.)
  32. Free gift for purchase or inquiry
  33. Free gift tied to order size
  34. Free gift with purchase or trial order
  35. Free gift wrap
  36. Free information (e.g., booklet, research, etc.)
  37. Free maintenance with purchase
  38. Free needs analysis/consultation
  39. Free registration
  40. Free sample, trial, demo, taste test, preview, etc.
  41. Free shipping
  42. Free team schedule or event calendar
  43. Free trial
  44. Frequent shopper/flyer points
  45. Group discount
  46. Guaranteed acceptance (applicable to insurance products that don’t require underwriting)
  47. Guaranteed trade-in
  48. Half price/50% off
  49. Larger size at regular price (get 25% more product free at the regular price)
  50. Limited quantity/supply
  51. Limited-time/one-time offer
  52. Member referral program/refer a friend
  53. Minimal charge sample (e.g., you pay only shipping or try it for $1)
  54. Money-back guarantee/no risk
  55. Multiple purchase bonus (e.g., buy 10 lunches, get the 11th free)
  56. Negative-option (enrolled until you opt-out)
  57. No interest for a period of time
  58. Payment plan
  59. Piggyback offer (buy our product and get a product from another business)
  60. Premier or lifetime membership
  61. Prepay bonus (e.g., pay for a subscription now at the yearly rate and get an extra six months free)
  62. Price increase announcement
  63. Price match
  64. Rebate
  65. Rush shipping
  66. Save
  67. Seasonal or event-driven sale
  68. Share your opinion
  69. Sliding scale discount (e.g., the more you buy, the more you save)
  70. Special terms (e.g., “bill me later,” low or no interest, installment payments, etc.)
  71. Step-up discount
  72. Subscription discount (e.g., order each month and save)
  73. Sweepstakes (e.g., random drawing, lottery, scratch-off game cards, etc.)
  74. Trade-in offer
  75. Upsell (aka good, better, best upgrade)

If you want to test a new offer with your audience, we’re here to help!

Gunderson Direct has long-lasting relationships with some of the country’s largest corporations, helping them to lower their customer acquisition costs and increase profits using address-based integrated direct marketing programs.

Drop us a line for more information on how our direct marketing expertise can help your business.

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Jeff has been with Gunderson Direct since 2017 and has played a significant role in the growth of the agency’s client base while helping to manage growth across agency departments.