Naviant's Postcard Mailers Get the Word Out

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All that is old is new again for Internet marketers as postcard mailings have now turned up as an innovative way to get the word out about Web sites.

The "Click 'n Visit Postcard Mailer" program, launched by Naviant Dec. 6, is a turnkey vehicle for Web marketers looking to reach consumers through their mailboxes.

Naviant has been testing Web-related postcard mailings with companies such as since early summer, and the tests revealed conversion rates as high as 8 percent.

New media marketers have been historically skeptical about such old-school marketing practices. However, a recent surge in client interest drove Naviant Newtown Square, PA to launch the product, according to Ray Butkus, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

"We had conversations with small dot.coms [about using postcards], they said what are you talking about? We don't have any agency relationships or a direct marketing shop," said Butkus. "We heard it enough times to know a turnkey product would be an avenue to distribute our list properties."

In the current climate, however, direct marketing is still low or nonexistent among many dot-com's marketing plans. "There's a lot more offline advertising, but as far as the use of direct marketing there have only been isolated cases," said Jim Nail, senior analyst for Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "Venture capitalists are expecting to spend $10 or $20 million on television or billboards, something with high visibility. Direct marketing isn't sexy enough."

Naviant has a database of the addresses of 12.4 million Internet-enabled households. These addresses are sourced through electronic product registration services. Test mailings, which included discounts, free offers or no offer, yielded conversion rates of 2 percent to 8 percent. The free offers had the highest conversion rates.

Naviant is also planning to run sweepstakes offers for future campaigns. No matter what the offer, "direct marketing has 30 to 40 years of effectiveness. You can count on a 2 to 5 percent response," said Butkus.

An eventual shift toward traditional direct marketing practices is inevitable, according to Butkus. "When e-commerce and e-marketing were in its initial stages, the belief was that the Web could be everything: a delivery, fulfillment, marketing and sales channel. People have discovered it's an effective way of selling and marketing, but it's not the only way. It's one of the arrows in the quiver, not the single arrow."

Click 'n Visit Postcards are 5-by-7, four-color postcards. The creative is being handled by Giagraphics, Easton, CT.

Pricing runs $1,100 per 1,000 pieces for a 20,000-piece mailing and decreases as the size of the mailing increases. A campaign can be turned around in 21 days.

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