Few catalog/multichannel merchants include inserts in their prospecting or retention media plans, a fact that continues to baffle those who use inserts profitably. Most catalogers use bounceback catalogs as a kind of retention insert (though most don’t think of them as inserts). Few consider the strategic value of inserts to their retention rates, not to mention prospecting media mix.
But there are countless other strategic benefits of including inserts in your prospecting. The assorted retention plans that can help you achieve overall business goals are worth looking into. Consider the strategic value of inserts for prospecting and retention separately.
Strategic Prospecting Benefits
1. Inserts are an inexpensive way to test. Both Jill Eastman-Vidal, director of third-party marketing at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, and Mike Faith, CEO and president of Headsets.com, stress this point.
Inserts cost significantly less than most other media. They allow you to test both new audiences and different prospecting offers inexpensively. Consider testing a package insert before renting a list and mailing a pricey catalog.
Multiple versions of an insert — whether a single offer, lead generator or miniature catalog — can be tested to determine which offer or approach will work best for your business. Insert printers often can collate versions for you.
2. Inserts can be an inexpensive way to acquire customers or generate leads for two-step offers. Cheryl Bagdan, senior accountant for list firm Statlistics, says that given the latest postal increase, inserts can be very cost-efficient as a prospecting vehicle.
When mailings to a given audience do well, Eastman-Vidal recommends catalogers seek out inserts in their package and, if possible, work on an exchange basis to further reduce prospecting costs.
3. Reach untapped audiences you couldn’t otherwise capture profitably. Billing statement stuffers and similar kinds of inserts enable you to reach new audiences, some of which have large prospecting volume potential. Faith suggests catalogers “be open to testing new [insert] forms; you never know when you will find something that works.”