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.

Is Your Customer Service Killing Customer Loyalty?

As marketers, we spend a lot of time, money, energy and brain power designing and building programs that will drive inquiries, close sales or increase brand engagement. And once a sale is secured, we move into loyalty mode—lovingly nurturing that customer to buy more and buy more often in order to derive a long term revenue stream and ROI for the marketing investment. … So what the hell is wrong with the customer service folks?

As marketers, we spend a lot of time, money, energy and brain power designing and building programs that will drive inquiries, close sales or increase brand engagement.

And once a sale is secured, we move into loyalty mode, lovingly nurturing that customer to buy more and buy more often in order to derive a long term revenue stream and ROI for the marketing investment.

So what the hell is wrong with the customer service folks?

Didn’t they get the memo that says, “Our customers are those people who make sure you get your paycheck. So let’s treat them with respect, concern and understanding. Because if we do, they’ll keep buying from us again, and again and again.”?

Apparently, the customer service folks at Dell never got the memo—and shame on them, because they’ve now lost my business for life.

Granted, I run a smaller agency and my lack of future purchases will not put Dell out of business. But I think there’s a big lesson that many companies can learn from my experience, and that’s to take a moment to really examine what goes on inside these departments.

For the record, we’ve been purchasing Dell products for well over 10 years now. Laptops, towers, printers, screens … you name it. My IT guy likes the ease of ordering online and the ability to carefully customize each of our purchases for the user.

So when we recently did a little expansion by hiring a new employee, we turned once again to Dell for a new desktop PC. Little did we know it would be the last transaction we’d ever make with them—and all because of how we were treated when something went wrong with the order. Here’s a quick factual summary:

  • Friday, Aug. 24: Order placed online.
  • Monday, Aug. 27: Order ships.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 4: According to the FedEx tracking number, the order was delivered and signed for—unfortunately, FedEx delivered it to the wrong company at the wrong address!
  • Thursday, Sept. 6: FedEx reroutes package to us. It arrives and appears to have been opened and resealed. Since this is a PC, I don’t want an opened box, so we try to refuse the delivery. FedEx persists and requires us to contact their customer service to arrange a return to sender.
  • Monday, Sept 10: FedEx picks up tower.
  • Monday, Sept 10: Alert Dell; they promise to “expedite” a replacement order.
  • Friday, Sept 14: Dell informs us the PC is still “being built.”

I must interrupt the facts to say “Wha–?” When we ordered the first time, it took them 2 days to build it. But when we ordered our replacement, it’s now taking more than 5 days to build the same computer? It only gets better …

  • Monday, Sept. 17: Dells says, “Still building.”

What on earth are they building for us? We try to reach a “customer care” rep. (BTW, I HATE that term. I wish organizations would call a spade a spade— it’s plain old customer service. Or perhaps since “service” doesn’t seem to be part of the equation, that’s why they changed it. So they “care” but they cannot “service”?)

Net-net, phone numbers we are provided don’t work. (Ring, ring, ring… apparently Dell hasn’t heard of that new-fangled technology called voicemail.) Emails go unanswered, emails to the supervisor bounce back as “out of the office.” Did I mention my new employee is twiddling thumbs doing idle work as she can only get so much done on her smart phone?

  • Tuesday, Sept. 18: Dell emails us saying the order will now be “escalated” and we’ll be kept aware of the status.

Okay Dell. It’s been 25 days since I placed my order and there is still no confirmed delivery date is sight. I give up. I cancel the order and buy from a local retailer.

No apologies from Dell to try and retain my business. No offers on a future purchase. Nothing. Nada. Apparently Dell’s customer care folks forgot that those marketing millions spent on driving in leads, nurturing relationships and transacting sales have all been an investment in their job security.

Not only did Dell blow it, but I won’t even attempt to make another purchase from them—ever.

As a customer, I get infuriated just thinking about this incident. As a marketer, I cringe.

If you are responsible for marketing in your organization, do you spend any time at all investigating what goes on in “customer care”? You should—because it may be the reason you’re not making your marketing and sales goals.

How Dell Leverages Social Media Across the Company

While attending the eTail East conference in Baltimore this week,  I was pleasantly surprised at what seems to be a pattern in online retail shows this year. While the show was small, all the sessions were packed. And everyone seemed to be in generally good spirits — despite the economic situation.

While attending the eTail East conference in Baltimore this week, I was pleasantly surprised at what seems to be a pattern in online retail shows this year. While the show was small, all the sessions were packed. And everyone seemed to be in generally good spirits — despite the economic situation.

One session I attended on Aug. 5 featured Liana Frey, the director of communities and conversations at Dell. Her session, “Community 2.0 — Lessons Learned From Engaging in Conversations With Customers,” focused on the success of the Round Rock, Texas-based firm’s use of social media.

Dell’s successful use of social media has been well documented. Dell Outlet, for example, has attributed $3 million in revenue to its presence on Twitter, where the division posts its latest offers.

What’s more, Dell Outlet has almost 1 million Twitter followers and is a “recommended” presence to follow by Twitter. It also occasionally makes “Twitter-only” offers available to followers.

Dell has put a concerted effort into its social media programs, according to Frey. It started them through a small group that was part of its corporate communications department. Today, however, social media is embedded throughout the entire organization.

“We’ve changed our organizational structure so that our tech department can answer specific technical questions through Twitter, and our customer service department can answer customer service questions,” she said.

While Frey admitted there’s some risk to this approach — where someone may say something that’s inappropriate, despite the social training, and damage the brand — she added that using this approach was worth the risk.

“We had enough confidence in our employees’ expertise that we felt it was important to make them transparent,” she said.

At lunch later that day, many folks agreed with Frey’s comments. Almost all of my tablemates said that for social media to work, it has to be part of a corporation’s culture. And, most importantly, there has to be buy-in from the top of the corporate structure — the CEO or president.

Do you agree? Let me know by leaving a comment here.