Mercedes-Benz Mailers Outpace Online Campaign

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A direct mail piece supporting Mercedes-Benz's online sweepstakes for its 2002 C-Coupe has a response rate double that of the automaker's online campaign.


The staggered drops to 1 million Mercedes-Benz customers and prospects began in late June and continue through this month. The mailings, developed from inhouse lists and prospects from Experian and other list providers, were ranked "so that we could focus our efforts on the top deciles of names," said Maria Goldblatt, department manager of CRM/relationship marketing for Mercedes-Benz.


"It [the mailing] promotes the sweepstakes offer and drives traffic to the dealer and to the Web," she said. "Our response rate has beat expectations."


The mailer has received a 12 percent response rate. It includes a 5.5-inch-by-8.5-inch, three-panel color brochure introducing the car and a two-panel brochure announcing the sweepstakes with a business reply card for the sweepstakes in a bright yellow, vellum translucent envelope.


Mercedes-Benz tested a second mailing of a mini-CD-ROM introducing the car and the sweepstakes to 25,000 prospects from third-party lists this month. The CD-ROMs were shipped in shrink-wrapped metal tins that included bright lime-green cards highlighting the sweepstakes. The company does not yet have results from that mailing.


The direct mail work was developed by the New York office of Rapp Collins Worldwide, which has worked with Mercedes-Benz for more than six years. In addition, Mercedes-Benz work used Rapp Collins' InfoWorks consultancy and Critical Mass, which is part of the RappDigital network, the interactive unit of Rapp Collins Worldwide.


Online efforts, which included rich media banner ads, wireless ads and two e-mail drops, resulted in a click-through rate to www.ccoupe.com of 5 percent to 6 percent.


The flashy colors and style of the direct mail and online creatives aimed to attract a younger demographic than usual for Mercedes-Benz. The company is targeting the $25,000 C-Coupe at drivers ages 25 to 35, said Sue Collins, director of budget in the marketing communications department at Mercedes-Benz. The typical Mercedes buyer is ages 30 to 54 with an annual household income of $130,000.


A test e-mail drop was sent to 32,700 addresses from Yesmail this summer. After a response rate of 6.6 percent, Mercedes will drop 300,000 e-mails to names from automotive Web site lists by the end of the month. Executives expect the second e-mail drop, facilitated by Chicago agency Critical Mass and DoubleClick, to meet or exceed the results of the initial test.


Flash and Unicast Superstitial ads on auto and entertainment sites, including Kellybluebook.com, cars.com, Launch.com, BlackPlanet.com and Shockwave.com, are generating click throughs of 4 percent to 5 percent.


"We're advertising on a lot of different sites, like music sites," Collins said. "We're sort of tapping into what this age demographic does online."


The rich media ads with various functions break through the clutter of static banner ads, Collins said. Some of the ads, like one running on Yahoo's finance page, highlight the vehicle and provide a dealer-locator service within the ad. Others let viewers download the screensavers and e-postcards and e-mail them to friends.


"It's to get them more involved, other than just buying a car. This should be fun," said Dave Tourtlotte, manager of e-business at Mercedes-Benz.


At the Web site, www.ccoupe.com, sweepstakes entrants enter their names and e-mail addresses and can opt in for Mercedes-Benz updates and the ability to send information on the sweeps to up to 10 friends.


Meanwhile, wireless advertising through wireless networks AvantGo, WindWire and Vindigo started this month after a successful test last year.


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