Bookspan Builds on Insert Offerings

Continuity club marketer Bookspan isn't letting its insert media programs grow stale. The company tweaked one tried-and-true program to gain even higher response for advertisers, began a new program and tested a few others over the past year.

“Our goal is to deliver value to our advertisers through new programs whenever we can,” said Seth Radwell, president of Bookspan Marketing and Editorial Group. Bookspan, Garden City, NY, is a joint venture of Book-of-the-Month Club Inc. and Doubleday Direct Inc. formed in 2000.

To boost response for its general-interest package insert program for advertisers, Bookspan began testing a free-book promotion in the summer.

“What we started to do was put an incentive on the outside of the envelope containing the inserts telling customers that they may have won a free book,” said Cindy Karamitis, director of list marketing at Bookspan. “We didn't want our mailers to see a decline in response for our package insert program, and we wanted to really get our members excited about the advertising we were offering in the book shipments.”

Many mailers are still reading results, though several have reported a significant increase in response.

“We started in July, and mailers started to read results in August and September,” Karamitis said, “and they've come back to us and said they've actually seen a lift in response between 25 and 50 percent over what they'd seen in the past.”

The free-book coupons are placed randomly into one of every 130,000 insert envelopes. The value of the free book is up to a member-edition price of $35 with free shipping and handling.

Karamitis said the benefits outweigh the cost to Bookspan.

“It really gets customers to open the envelope and look at the offers,” she said.

Bookspan's general-interest package insert program consists of about 1 million shipments monthly. An average of eight inserts ship with each package. The cost of the program is $60/M.

“We're in rollout now in our general-interest program, which is our largest, and we want to adopt that same thing for the family and the lifestyle programs,” she said.

Bookspan also introduced a program reaching the Hispanic market, which marketers are increasingly eager to target, at the start of the year. The ride-along program for its Spanish-language book club Mosaico launched in January. The club was tested in 2001 and began rollout late last year.

“We launched the ride along once the club hit 25,000 members, and it now has just over 100,000,” Karamitis said.

As with all of Bookspan's more than 20 genre-based ride-along programs that reach about 7 million members, only one advertiser is permitted to ride along with the club's catalog.

Mosaico sends 12 Spanish-language catalog mailings yearly to its members.

“So far, half a dozen mailers have tested this program,” Karamitis said. “It's competitive but there are not a ton of marketers creating Spanish-language pieces yet so we think the demand for the program will increase.”

Spanish-language inserts are a good way to test the market cheaply, she added. Though Karamitis said that a Spanish-language insert is not a requirement for the program, at least a bilingual piece is recommended. The Mosaico ride-along program costs $65/M.

Looking ahead, Bookspan is testing new programs.

It is working with Johnson & Johnson on a sampling program that could open its package insert opportunities considerably. The hand-drop program now reaches 700,000 members monthly. It is unclear when it might go into rollout.

The firm is also in a testing phase for American Compass, a new conservative book club that it hopes to start at the end of the year. Once that takes off, an insert program is sure to follow.

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