Direct Mail Offers That Generate Action

24 February 2020 / By Jeff Tarran
Reading time: 5 minutes

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!

  1. Bounce back (a new offer extended after the initial sale)
  2. Bundling
  3. Buy before the price increases or sale/enrollment period ends
  4. Buy now, ship later
  5. Buy one get one free (BOGO)
  6. Cash back
  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 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 other number—special deal for the first xx 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 do not 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 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 product from another business)
  60. Premier or lifetime membership
  61. Prepay bonus (e.g., pay for subscription now at the yearly rate and get an extra 6 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: bill me later, low or no interest, or installment payments
  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! 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.

 

 

 

 

Jeff Tarran
About The Author

Jeff Tarran

As VP of Account Services, Jeff works with our clients to analyze business problems and develop direct marketing strategies that achieve their goals. A 20-year veteran and strategic thought leader in direct marketing, Jeff has headed two independent direct response agencies in the Bay Area after starting his career at Foote Cone and Belding. He earned a Dual BS in management and communications at Syracuse University and his MBA in marketing at Columbia University in New York.