4 Great Direct Mail Welcome Ideas

A direct mail welcome package can be one of the first few communications that your customer gets. Here’s a sampling of some I found.

Can direct mail make a red-hot customer even hotter?

That’s just one question some marketers may want to think about when acquiring a customer. They’ve paid their heard-earned money for your product or service, but why not get that new relationship off on the right foot with a solid welcome package?

There are some solid reasons for doing so. A direct mail welcome package can be one of the first few communications that your customer gets after getting an email confirmation of their order. It’s your chance to shine, to let them know that they’ve made the right decision. And it’s only polite to express your thanks, and put it in print.

So how can you say “Welcome”? I looked at a ton of mail from Who’s Mailing What! for some ideas. Here’s a sampling of what I found.

1. Make It Personal

Dell direct mailHere’s a direct mail piece I got when I bought my laptop. A simple 6”x8” 8-page booklet that has some personalization going on, and a nice image on the front panel. Inside, it welcomes me to the Dell family and recommends that I keep the booklet in a safe place in case the information it holds is ever needed.

What information? My purchase ID number is the big one. It also lists lots of tech support and customer service websites and phone numbers. Some of them came in handy when I spilled iced tea on my keyboard last summer.

2. Remind Them About Your Brand

New York Times direct mailThe New York Times likes booklets, too, mailing this one to a new subscriber. Its 24-pages include lots of copy about all of its online and print features as it helps readers along “your journey.” And, the perfed inside back cover smartly has customer service contact info in case you lose your access, or your Sunday Times doesn’t show up on your doorstep.

But the highlight to me are the images – of refugees, food, and dolphins – that appear on many of the even-numbered pages. They’re a great reminder to the reader of the quality photography that helps the Times tells its stories on paper and online.

3. Talk About Security

American Express direct mailThink of how data and identity security are constantly in the news. You need to make your new customer feel safe. So it makes sense not only to take precautions, but tell your customers what you’re doing to keep them and their information secure.

American Express onboards new cardholders with yes, another booklet. Here, it includes fraud alert protection in a rundown of features that are available in its app.

4. Take Further Action

National Audubon Society direct mailSo you’ve already thanked your customer for their purchase. Now what?

How about another purchase? This is the perfect opportunity to cross-sell or upsell other products or related services as well.

For non-profits, the direct mail welcome is a great time to really energize new donors when they’re most engaged and enthusiastic. The National Audubon Society, in its documentation, presents new members with an action plan “so that you can make the most of your ongoing membership.” Among the checked items: volunteering at an Audubon center, participating in citizen science programs, or making another donation.

You have nothing to lose by letting a new customer feel good about their decision, and spending their money with you.

By starting with a good welcome, you can help create a good experience for them, build a foundation for their future loyalty, and establish your brand at the same time.

4 Great Ways to Use a Postcard in Direct Mail (Besides Mailing One)

When I travel, I usually send a postcard or two to friends and family, reminding them of where I am. I often opt for the cheesier ones. You know the ones I’m talking about.

When I travel, I usually send a postcard or two to friends and family, reminding them of where I am. I often opt for the cheesier ones. You know the ones I’m talking about.

Maybe they have a badly outdated picture, or a city’s name emblazoned across the front.

And sometimes, I’ll scrawl a cliched: “Having a wonderful time … Wish you were here” on the back.

Anyway, while buying some new ones the other day, I thought about other ways postcards can be an effective element in many direct mail efforts. Here are a few.

1. Go Somewhere New
amexdpostcard_01This postcard was the perfed front panel of a self-mailer that American Express mailed last year. It uses a tropical scene to draw in a prospect for the company’s Gold Delta Airlines SkyMiles credit card. One of the inside panels lists the many travel benefits of getting and using the card. For example, new members can earn miles bases on their purchases. And their first checked bag is free when traveling on the airline

2. Talk With Your Network
oatpostcard_01Call it a friends and family discount, or member-get-a-member. Asking your customers to reach out to people they know to help sell your product or service can be a powerful tool.

Overseas Adventure Travel, a tour operator often reaches out to its past customers for referrals for its many trips. A recent envelope mailing included a sheet of 5 perfed jumbo postcards, each showcasing one of its destinations. The reverse side offers “3 Reasons to Travel” to that location, like Peru. For letting their loved ones know in a colorful way where they’ve been, the traveler earns rewards, plus savings for their friend.

3. Leverage Your Assets
nytpostcard_01When you create and control good, valuable content, why not let everyone know that?

This postcard features an iconic photograph of President Kennedy that originally ran in the New York Times back in 1961. It was mailed in a subscription package for the newspaper a few years ago. According to that effort’s letter, it was intended “to provide a vivid snapshot of what you will find in the Times.”

Another good example: the National Museum for Women in the Arts mailed postcards for years as part of its membership acquisition package. Each one featured a work from a woman artist that came from its collection.

4. Work for Change
ifawpostcard_01As a component of a fundraising appeal, the postcard can be an effective involvement device to advocate for change. Examples abound in Who’s Mailing What! but many of them generally build brand and not much else.

This exception to the rule was mailed by International Fund for Animal Welfare. It’s part of a campaign to stop the declining numbers of rhinos in South Africa. The front includes a stark caption to accompany a cute image. The reverse side contains a message to the country’s Minister for the Environment, asking for an end to poaching and slaughter.

The common element in all of these cases is that the postcard’s job is to inspire an action.

It is not enough to be eye-catching, or look pretty; the postcard has to make a connection — maybe several of them— to be relevant to the customer or donor.


We Accidentally (on Purpose) Sent You …

American Express (Amex) is a premium brand I’ve long admired. When they issued their first paper credit card in 1959, its annual fee was $6 — $1 higher than Diners Club (the industry leader), carefully positioning Amex as a premium product.

American Express LogoAmerican Express (Amex) is a premium brand I’ve long admired. When they issued their first paper credit card in 1959, its annual fee was $6 — $1 higher than Diners Club (the industry leader), carefully positioning itself as a premium product.

In 1980, I became a proud Amex cardholder and when they started co-branding with Delta Airlines, I quickly converted my card, collecting enough mileage points over the years to travel first class, with my entire family, to several different continents.

In early December, I called Amex to dispute a charge on my card (I should note that every phone interaction with Amex has been superior). As the call was wrapping up, the customer service rep inquired about another Amex card I carried but rarely used, and suggested that I might be more interested in a new and different product. The sales spiel included a notation that I’d get double miles for certain purchases. Now that I have kids in college with travel requirements, that was music to my ears. Sign me up!

The rep was quite clear that there was no annual fee with this new card, so I was surprised when a $95 charge appeared on my next statement. I added a call into Amex to my “to do” list, and promptly forgot about it the next day.

Yesterday, however, I received a letter from Amex apologizing for sending me the wrong card. They noted that they had already credited my account for the first year’s fee, but if I wanted to switch to the card originally promised, all I needed to do was contact them.

Of course, now I wanted to know the difference between the card I got and the card I was supposed to get, so I Googled it. And discovered that the card they sent me was even superior in mileage point collection. Instead of two-times the miles, in some instances I was getting three to four-and-a-half-times. Sorry Amex, but you won’t be able to rip this card from my fingers!

With all the automation of systems, call centers, fulfillment centers, etc. encompassing Amex operations, I started to think, “How could Amex make a mistake like this?” And, upon further reflection, perhaps it wasn’t an error, but a deliberate marketing strategy.

Sell the consumer a fee-free card, ship the wrong card, notify the consumer of the error after the fact, waive the fee and, upon feeling the benefits of those extra points building in the account, convert non-payers to payers. Is this a brilliant bait and switch move?

Thanks for the new card, Amex. And thanks for your (supposed) mistake. You’ll be enjoying my $95 next year, but in the meantime, I’ll be booking myself another (free) flight.