Campaign's in the Toilet, but a Success

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Images of a man in a supermarket meat package and a flushing toilet bowl have helped affiliate program manager Be Free get response rates of 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, for a direct mail and e-mail campaign.

The campaigns conducted last month touted Bfast and Bselect services to marketing managers at midsize and large companies. Be Free sent more than 10,000 direct mail pieces and 25,000 e-mails to marketing managers at companies in all types of vertical markets. The goal of both campaigns was to show companies how they can get the most out of their online marketing budgets, though the graphics and wording were different.

Dave Feng, vice president of corporate and product marketing at Be Free, Marlborough, MA, said the direct mail campaign was one of the largest such efforts for both products and the e-mail campaign was the company's largest run yet.

The response rate for the direct mail campaign might increase since responses are still coming in.

Robert Rosenthal, president of Wellesley, MA-based Passaic Parc, the ad agency that designed the campaign, said the direct mail pieces were sent to the best prospects.

"We got the names from 15 different lists and list segments," Rosenthal said. "We felt that direct mail is more personal and effective and wanted to send those pieces to the best prospects."

There are no conversion numbers yet, but Rosenthal said the majority of respondents have been "high-quality leads."

No one from the current Be Free database of customers was targeted. Since prospects were the targets, Rosenthal said the goal of the campaign was to build high-quality leads and to build awareness of the Be Free brand name.

The mail piece was a self-mailer with two cover images of a man wrapped in a meat package. A sticker on each package indicated they were the same weight, but one cost $226 to acquire while the other cost just $5 using Be Free products. Above the pictures was the headline: "Which customer acquisition option would you pick? Hint: this is not a trick question."

The mailer opened to a description of how the two products can help companies improve their online marketing programs. A business reply card contained questions about the company's current online marketing tactics, including which marketing vehicles it uses, its annual marketing budget and annual online revenue.

With the e-mail portion of the campaign, Be Free tested a rich media version against an HTML version. Both versions used the same imagery of a toilet bowl, but the rich media version was animated with the flushing of water.

Each e-mail contained the copy: "We asked managers to visualize where their marketing dollars were really going."

Both versions contained a brief description of each product and information on special offers. A link was provided to a site where the respondent was asked to provide basic demographic information along with the questions on the BRC.

Rosenthal said the rich media version pulled in a net response rate that was 27.5 percent higher than the HTML version.

The mail piece and e-mails both contained special offers. The first was for a free online report titled "Elevating Your Marketing to the Highest Power." The second offer, available only to the first few hundred respondents, was for a denim shirt with the Be Free MKTG logo on it.


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