DMNews talks with Dan Jones, VP of channel development at SmartReply

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This March, Dan Jones, VP of channel development at SmartReply, worked on a month-long voice and direct mail campaign to help drive repeat visits to meal preparation franchise Dream Dinners.

Q: What are some of the services that Dream Dinners provides?

A: Consumers can set an appoint­ment and go into the store to assemble meals for their families. All the ingredients are there. You can prepare the food there and put the meals into foil to take home to be heated. It can be served whenever you're ready. It saves time from gro­cery shopping and doing dishes and it gets your family to eat something new and exotic.

Q: What was SmartReply's strat­egy going into this campaign?

A: We wanted to see if we could make direct mail work harder by using prerecorded phone messages customized to either a live ear or an answering machine. We also wanted to see if a simple message could work with voice alone and be more cost effective at the same time. We called and sent direct mail pieces to lapsed visitors near 10 different franchise locations in different states — targeting people who hadn't been back to the store for three to nine months. We offered consumers a free dessert on their next visit if they mentioned the voice message or brought in the direct mail piece.

Q: Why did you use both voice messaging and direct mail?

A: The stores provide a very personal experience. Consumers spend a lot of time there preparing and customizing meals. Voice is a personal medium and it seemed a logical match. Voice also routinely helps direct mail break though the clutter of the mailbox. Customers were pre-called on the day the direct mail piece was dropped locally with the US Postal Service to alert them to the mailing.

Q: What did Dream Dinners use before this campaign?

A: It had used direct mail by itself. But, [using this technique,] you can make a more personal engagement and a more personal invitation; consumers just respond better.

Q: What were some of the results from the campaign?

A: The ROI was very positive. The voice-only component had a 5.4% response rate. This yielded 78redemptions with an average trans­action of $174.69. The combination of a phone call and the direct mail piece had a response rate of 3.2% resulting in 48 redemptions with an average transaction of $190.98.

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