Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?

Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?

The article below is admittedly a personal review of some direct mail I received.  I am not privy to the strategies of any of these pieces or the metrics associated with the return on investment for these campaigns. As a direct marketer I know that all that really matters is the testing matrix and campaign ROI; neither of which do I have any knowledge of.  With that said, let’s critique!

After sorting through an enormous box of direct mail I collect, I was amazed to find such poor use of the outer envelope for a pain-filled call to actions (CTAs). Out of this 20-pound box of direct mail, I only found one organization that was nailing pain-focused CTAs while dozens of others were missing the mark entirely – most failing to have a CTA on the envelope at all.

You can see by the two outer envelopes below that the Salvation Army clearly understands driving response through pain and strong CTAs. Pella Windows and JCP, on the other hand, do not. These for-profit giants neglected to include anything on the outer envelopes to persuade the recipient to take the next step and open the envelope. No CTA, no compelling photograph, no pain. Zero. Zip. Nada.

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Many organizations have found that raising the level of pain surrounding a problem to the point that the inflicted one wants a solution and is willing to act on it is a viable messaging tool.

With all the pain in today’s trauma filled world, and with overfilled email boxes, getting to the pain via an envelope with a strong call to action may be the best route to new customers or donors.

The cutting-edge marketing technology company, Dukkysays, “There’s no better time to spend dollars in direct mail, especially since everyone is saturated with e-mail marketing campaigns.”

Pella’s Envelope Is Void of Pain

We are confident that Pella Window’s marketing department has tested their envelope copy strategy to the hilt, but we spent a little time playing with possible headlines… Tell us if you think these are strong:

  • Did you know windows can leak 25% of your heat during the winter? That’s a lot of heat.
  • Daddy always complained about heating the outside.
  • Might as well just leave the window open, don’t you think?

 

When we look at Pella Window’s letter, we also feel like we want more.  We would love to see some content on a replacement cost vs. return on investment calculation to demonstrate how quickly a homeowner can recoup his costs over time just through energy efficiencies throughout all seasons.

Not sure it would work, but it might be worth a test, but imagine retrieving an envelope out of your mailbox with the photograph above on it if you just got an extremely high gas bill earlier that month and the thought of new windows was in the back of your mind. What if the envelope had, “Quit making your family wear down vests and stocking caps to watch a movie in your drafty house.”  Would you open the envelope to read more?

JCP Counts CEO Clout to Earn the Open

Lucky me, I received a letter from JCP’s CEO Ron Johnson! I wondered what’s up. Opening this generic, highly digitized very personalized letter, I learn that JCP is making changes in their store to bring back the fun of shopping.  If you know me, you know I don’t enjoy shopping.

The fun of shopping, huh.  Funny, this envelope and letter aren’t very fun. In fact, they’re kind of boring.

Johnson goes on to say he doesn’t want me to have to wait for a sale or coupon so I’ll now find low prices every day, which sounds a lot like Wal-mart but wait. There’s a $10 coupon at the bottom of the letter if I get to JCP in the next few days. Isn’t that kind of a mixed message? No more coupons but here is a coupon?

And here’s another kicker, the letter from the desk of Ron Johnson is signed Ron – now not really. It’s just his typed name. No signature blue ink, cursive writing. Just a corporate looking letter, with a convoluted message and a non-personalized signature at the bottom and no pain or CTA on the outer envelope.

Come on JCP – if you’re trying to be warm, value driven, fun and shift from a couponing strategy to an everyday value you are delivering numerous conflicting messages.

Now keep in mind, they did send me this letter to my work address.  I wonder was the appeal of one more formal letter supposed to get through to me and entice me to use a $10 coupon because I absolutely had to run out in the next four days and buy something.

Add to the confusion.  I’m not a JCP shopper.  Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I walked into a JCP.  I don’t have kids, so I’m not in that “holy grail” of consumers.  I rarely use coupons.  Heck, I rarely even remember to use the gift cards I get for presents.  The bigger problem for JCP – they are spending money with a strange message to try and lure me into their store.

With all these comments, I’ll admit the marketer in me is uncomfortable sharing my anecdotal observations. I would love to see the data.  I would like to see the testing matrix. I would like to see the ROI and consumer analytics reports, but alas I get to sit back and observe my experience with a mail piece.

I guess this is what a Monday morning quarterback feels like.

Have you received anything from an organization that made you want to take action because it had a great CTA, personalized URL, or magnified some pain that drove you to take action? Let me know in comments.

 

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