Inserts "play well" with other media

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If you're looking for an affordable investment that easily connects to other channels, inserts are a great choice. Four experts discuss how to take advantage of this strategy.

Peter Stein
Director of business development, CGSM Inc
.

Imagine a marketer placing an insert with an offer for a free catalog, with prospects responding through the company's Web site or call center: This is just an example of how insert media has become an excellent conduit to opt-in marketing. Insert media is a tool that will lead to the development of robust databases, the creation of relevant marketing across all channels, increased loyalty with customers and a better return on marketing investments.

While consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages per day, they are still open to relevant offers from marketers. Recent research has also shown consumers are look¬ing to control their relationships with marketers by opting in to some channels and opting out of others. They want to dictate what kind of offers they receive, how often they receive communications, and what communications channels they prefer.

During this interaction, prospects are asked what their interests are, how often they would want to receive information, and whether they would like to receive it through mail, e-mail, text messages, or phone calls. In addition, they may be asked what social networks they belong to as well as about other interests. This information provides the marketer with insight into how to best invest company marketing dollars and potential new products and services that should be developed as a result of customer and prospect feedback.

Insert media is an inexpensive media: production costs are typically low and there are no postage costs associated with a program. The target audience is typically response driven, and it tends to include recent buyers of similar products. Utilizing inserts as a means of getting prospects to raise their hands and provide key information on their preferences can be extremely beneficial in formulating a successful company's multichannel strategy.

The Takeaway
Insert media is an excellent first step to successful opt-in marketing campaigns


Ellen Sante-Dubs
Offline marketing manager, VistaPrint

Many companies rely solely on online marketing channels to drive their online sales. What they may not realize is that even their most profitable acquisition channels will eventually see diminishing returns. Therefore, the last dollar they spend on their best online channel may not perform as well as the first dollar they spend on a new channel such as insert media.

Insert media is a great tool to build brand awareness and drive customers to the Web. It is generally more cost-ef¬fective than a solo mailing since you pay to ride-along with other advertisers. In addition, insert media programs often publish the demographics of their target audience so you can look for programs with an audience that resembles your customers or tailor your marketing message to a specific audience. With any new channel, it's best to start slowly with a few small campaigns so you can test and learn.

When starting to test insert media, it's important to look for programs with high “open rates” to ensure your adver¬tisement will be seen.

A good way to track inserts is to cre¬ate a unique URL extension for each individual campaign. Another way to track a campaign is to include a coupon code on your insert that the customer must enter online during check-out in order to receive a special promotional discount.

Lastly, companies track inserts by add¬ing a multiple-choice question to their online check-out process, such as “How did you hear about our company?”

The Takeaway
Inserts are a great offline tool to drive your customers online


Stan Madyda
SVP, Estee Mar¬keting Group Inc.

Catalogs and inserts have worked well together for decades, because marketers can take advantage of a very specific audience that is in a shopping frame of mind. Over the last several years, catalog blow-ins have gained popularity, since they allow advertisers to reach large numbers of prospective customers at a fraction of the cost.

The choice of blow-in programs is varied: apparel, children's, home prod¬ucts, gifts, electronics and gardening, to name a few. A broker can work with advertisers in setting up a well-rounded test plan. If you are a niche advertiser, ask your broker to ask for catalogs of¬fering products to the same market. Al¬though a program may not be available, an exception might be made to include a piece deemed comparable.

Ask if the inserts go only to the house file or to prospects as well. Most catalogs will include one or two outside inserts per drop. Advertisers should be aware that mail quantities can change. Confirm dates and quantities before ar¬ranging for a shipment of inserts.

Hard-sell offers work well with a catalog audience. Size and weight are factors that need to be considered when designing the insert piece. The maxi¬mum size of the insert needs to be a bit smaller than the standard size common with package inserts. Weight should be no more than ¼ ounce. Creatively, an advertiser will want to get as much information on the piece as possible – including just one core offer helps nar¬row the focus and leverages the buying frame of mind.

The Takeaway
Catalog blow-ins drive sales for niche products from buying-ready consumers.


Barbara Bickham
CEO, TechGenii, Inc.

Insert marketers can win by driving traffic to their Web site through the use of insert media, but only if they use the right strategy. Obviously, the first step is to make sure to include the Web site URL on the insert – consum¬ers need to know there is a Web site available and where to access it.

Next, give the consumer an incentive to go to the site. Offer a larger discount with an insert or offer a free trial of a product or service. This strategy has room for testing both your online and offline creative. To test creative on the printed insert, include a key code for consumers to enter upon receiving it. Distinct microsites can be tested by varying URLs. Depending on the size of your drop, it may be worthwhile for you to run multivariate tests.

Finally, you can gain new custom¬ers when the consumer signs up to receive the coupon or promotion. As a part of registration, capture their e-mail address. Once registration is complete, e-mail marketing rules apply.

Having a printed insert serves as a reminder for the customer and, in addition to initially driving them to the site with an offer, can function to notify the customer of changes on the site, new contests being run on the site and other online promotions. Inserts can be printed on one page, which reduces your mailing costs.

This three-part strategy comple¬ments other marketing channels as well. Inserts with clear-cut promotional incentives can drive users to cell phone contest or WAP sites as well as pod¬casts. Consumers can use the insert at their leisure, entering an SMS code on the go or bringing it home.

More challenging is coordinating insert creative with a TV or radio of¬fer. The danger here is ensuring that your insert shipment will truly coincide with the set schedule that radio or TV air time demand, and using an insert requires great timing and coordination.

The Takeaway
Give consumers a clear-cut reason to visit your Web or WAP site

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