Why your direct mail prospects deserve a better offer Mike Gunderson (Gunderson Direct CEO) and…
75 OFFER IDEAS TO DRIVE RESPONSE
Marketers know that offers are essential to driving consumer response. In direct mail, it’s even more essential because, unlike digital channels, the prospect has to leave the mail to respond—go online, make a call, or go to a store. Even in the case of a prospect’s best intentions to act, it’s just too easy to put the mail down and forget about it.
Offers and FOMO
Direct mail offers need an expiration date to create a sense of urgency. Set them far out enough so that the prospect has time to go through the decision process, but soon enough that deciding becomes a priority, and they can’t just put it down and forget about it.
Offers and attribution
The offer serves another important role in direct mail. Since most DM prospects respond through another channel, attribution is a common challenge. There is no perfect solution, but consider an offer that appears only in the mail channel and that requires a unique offer code to fulfill. This can aid greatly in matching responders to mail files—the first step in campaign analysis.
We also recommend offers that are richer than in other channels to help drive response and attribution. If the web offer and the mail offer are the same, the prospect has permission to purchase through any channel without citing an attribution source. At least in the early stages of program development, we want to give mail attribution its best shot by rewarding the use of a source code with a rich offer.
Testing your way into AN offer
What’s the offer that balances good quality leads at an acceptable price? Digital channels often drive the initial offer testing strategy for direct mail. As stated above, that may not be the best idea because it makes attribution difficult.
Another reason is that mail recipients often respond differently than responders in other channels. What works in digital sometimes falls flat in the mail. Finally, offers fatigue in the mail along with creative and lists. Make offer testing part of your ongoing test strategy so you’ve got good offer alternatives in the wings when response starts to weaken.
Keep an open mind and test offers along with other campaign variables whenever you mail.
What’s the right offer?
Offers don’t just impact price. Your offer can impact brand perception, and different offers appeal to different segments at a variety of points in the sales funnel. Here are just a few things to consider when it comes to offer strategies:
- For expensive products that require more purchase consideration, top-of-funnel offers can be more informational and relationship building (especially in B-to-B).
- Hard money incentives (e.g., discounts, free gifts, bonus products) work best for lower funnel prospects and when the sales process is straightforward.
- Weak brands, new products, and new categories will often need a stronger offer to drive consideration.
- Commodity products need to meet or beat their competitors’ offers. Or, better yet, be creative with offers in ways that help differentiate them from the pack.
- Keep it simple. Multiple or complicated offers almost always depress response.
Some industries are not able to make concrete offers. Our healthcare client can’t incentivize doctor visits, but they can offer a free app that provides access to doctors. Be creative about what constitutes an offer, and use it to get attention.
Consider too that your direct mail targets are likely being targeted by your competitors. How do your offers compare to your competitors’ offers? What are they testing? If your prospect goes online and researches the category, what other deals or offers will they see?
How we do it—75 offer ideas
At Gunderson Direct, we consider all of the above to determine the best offers to test in client mailings. Then we think about the best way to position the offer for that product’s audience. Is 50% off better than half price? Is $100 off better than a $100 Amazon gift card offer? Is one month free better than a 30-day trial?
The following list, in no particular order, is one we’ve developed for our internal use. We’re sharing it here for your marketing pleasure. Feel free to reach back and help us add to it!
- Bounce back (a new offer extended after the initial sale)
- Buy before the price increases or sale/enrollment period ends
- Buy now, ship later
- Buy one get one free (BOGO)
- Cash back
- Charitable donation (a $ amount or % of each sale is donated to a specified charity)
- Clearance sale
- Cross sell (aka, add-on or piggyback)
- Customer appreciation sale (special deals for past/current customers only)
- Delayed billing (aka, ‘bill me later’ or ‘no payment until XXX date’)
- Deluxe offer (includes limited editions and exclusive product upgrades or personalization)
- Discount (test both % off and $ off discounts)
- Discount on second product
- Discounted or free membership to a club/association
- Double discount days (offers or coupons have double value on specific days)
- Double your money back
- Early bird discount
- Enrollment period
- Exclusive/bonus (offer, gift, sample)
- Fast 50 (or 100 or other number—special deal for the first xx responders)
- Free accessory or complimentary item with purchase (e.g., buy shampoo get conditioner free)
- Free assessment (e.g., Policy review. Can you draw the pirate? Take our quiz.)
- Free assistance or technical support
- Free coupons
- Free demonstration
- Free download
- Free estimate (no obligation)
- Free gift
- Free gift card with purchase
- Free gift for attending (e.g., sales presentation, test drive, etc.)
- Free gift for purchase or inquiry
- Free gift tied to order size
- Free gift with purchase or trial order
- Free gift wrap
- Free information (e.g., booklet, research, etc.)
- Free maintenance with purchase
- Free needs analysis/consultation
- Free registration
- Free sample, trial, demo, taste test, preview, etc.
- Free shipping
- Free team schedule or event calendar
- Free trial
- Frequent shopper/flyer points
- Group discount
- Guaranteed acceptance (applicable to insurance products that do not require underwriting)
- Guaranteed trade in
- Half price/50% off
- Larger size at regular price (get 25% more product free at the regular price)
- Limited quantity/supply
- Limited-time/one-time offer
- Member referral program/refer a friend
- Minimal charge sample (e.g., you pay only shipping or try it for $1)
- Money-back guarantee/no risk
- Multiple purchase bonus (e.g., buy 10 lunches get 11th free)
- Negative option (enrolled until you opt out)
- No interest for a period of time
- Payment plan
- Piggyback offer (buy our product and get product from another business)
- Premier or lifetime membership
- Prepay bonus (e.g., pay for subscription now at the yearly rate and get an extra 6 months free)
- Price increase announcement
- Price match
- Rush shipping
- Seasonal or event-driven sale
- Share your opinion
- Sliding scale discount (e.g., the more you buy, the more you save)
- Special terms: bill me later, low or no interest, or installment payments
- Step up discount
- Subscription discount (e.g., order each month and save)
- Sweepstakes (e.g., random drawing, lottery, scratch off game cards, etc.)
- Trade-in offer
- Upsell (aka, good, better, best upgrade)
If you want to test a new offer with your audience, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you select the most enticing offer for your campaign and give you the best return on your investment in direct mail marketing.