Webcam Replica Pops Up Sales Leads

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A test direct mail campaign by Polycom for its new personal video conferencing camera, the ViaVideo, found that including a paper replica of the Webcam made prospects very likely to respond. This was the first time the company used anything comparable in a direct mail piece.

Polycom, Milpitas, CA, which develops conferencing materials such as Webcams and phones, dropped 50,000 pieces over a month's time during the summer. The mailings were sent to vice presidents, directors of sales and marketing departments, CEOs and chief information officers at medium-sized and large businesses.

Inside the piece was a pop-up replica of the Webcam built to scale by ad agency Structural Graphics, Essex, CT.

"The challenge was coming up with a way to convey how compact and powerful this tool was," said Mike Maguire, president of Structural Graphics. "We have found that campaigns using these devices usually get a response rate double or triple what it would be without it. And yes, it does cost more to produce, but the ROI is usually always positive."

The overall cost of the campaign was $198,000, and each piece was developed for roughly $3.50. The piece drew a 3.4 percent response rate, about 1.5 percent higher than their campaigns introducing new products typically generate. Response meant that recipients registered to win a DVD player, requested a downloadable information kit on the ViaVideo Webcam or inquired about buying one.

According to Babcock and Jenkins, Beaverton, OR, the ad agency handling all other aspects of the campaign, 97 percent of the respondents registered for the DVD player sweepstakes, 78 percent inquired about purchasing the Webcam and 34 percent requested the downloadable kit. There was no information on the number of Webcams sold.

"We were willing to make the investment in the piece and the campaign since we were introducing a new product," said Stacy Saxon, director of product marketing.

The Webcam costs $599.

Replicas were delivered in personalized envelopes with the headline, "This time, it's personal."

The envelope contained a foldout piece, which was not personalized. The piece included information regarding the Webcam, including a short explanation on how to connect it to a PC. Beneath that were mentions of a gift that recipients could receive by purchasing the Webcam, how they could win a DVD player and how to receive a downloadable ViaVideo information kit. The piece also included Polycom's ViaVideo Web site, a toll-free number and a fax number for additional information.

Recipients also could use a business reply card on the back of the foldout. It contains a PIN that must be used if contact is made via the Web site. The BRC also contains a questionnaire about recipients' conferencing needs and experiences.

For Saxon, the results showed not only that using a replica made the piece more enticing to prospects, but also that in this particular industry, it is an effective mechanism that is beneficial to both parties.

According to Judith Yelvington, production manager at Babcock and Jenkins, the names used for the mailings were compiled from 11 list brokers. None of the names was previously in Polycom's database, but the company created a new database of names with respondents to this campaign.

Another mailing of 20,000 pieces without the replica drew a 1.8 percent response rate. For that mailing, dropped on Nov. 29, the names were taken from the same lists used in the first two drops.

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