Do you know how to do the new print mailers right?
Direct catalog mailers have changed. And they’re nothing like your Sears catalogs. But, first, here’s the backstory of how this post came into being…
As a marketer with tons of curiosity, I set out to find out who’s selling my information. So when I signed up for meal delivery services from Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Munchery, I misspelled my name – just one letter off – to see what would happen next.
Sure enough, I started received direct mail from a slew of relevant companies I was properly targeted for. These companies included Warby Parker, Cuyana, Amour Vert, Sézane, Away – and a brand I’d never heard of before, Lunya. It’s clear that all of these brands are buying the same customer lists from the same company!
My first impression of the catalog mailers? They look fantastic with magazine-style layouts and photography, product benefits/features and highlighted press. Of course upon closer inspection, I noticed great strategies for brands to cull from- and missteps to avoid. So let’s analyze the mailers I received from Warby Parker, Lunya and Away.
Warby Parker’s mailer looked great and it was definitely relevant. I just don’t know if this strategy is working. For direct mail marketing campaigns sent around L.A., please note no one will travel 45 minutes to an hour to go to your pop-up. Not even to use a discount. Only, maybe, if it’s an invite to a major event.
I wonder why Warby Parker doesn’t diversify where their pop-ups are held in the area. The mailer did share discount offers for online shopping too, but this defeats the goal of being able to touch and feel their products in person. Their main objective seemed to be to get me into the store… and that didn’t happen.
As always, Warby Parker featured great offers for shipping and returns. It’s a wise tactic to get new customers to shop.
Now this was an interesting mailer. It’s stunning and beautifully-made, but I’d never heard of Lunya before and they made a lot of difficult to believe claims. They sell luxury sleepwear with some special treatments in the fabrics and a specific design meant to basically transform your health and wellness as you sleep. Apparently it’s supposed to make me feel like I “cut out dairy”, I “just returned from a yoga retreat”, I “used a lifetime supply of La Mer”…
Their targeting was spot-on, pinpointing me as someone interested in luxury fashion and wellness. However, the copywriting was a turn off. Rather than just listing a few of the things we love to do, it gave a whole laundry list that just ended up being rather off-putting. It’s almost as if the people who created the brand have nothing to do with the lifestyle at all. As if the brand was founded on data alone and then brought into fruition. A press quote from Fast Company – rather than a fashion mag – only served to strengthen this suspicion.
Note: Only after doing my own research (something most potential shoppers won’t do), did I realize Lunya was launched by a real female entrepreneur. And the Fast Company article in question touts the benefits of their products, incorporating clinically-tested, FDA-approved Celliant into pima cotton blends. Though I’m still not entirely convinced. A quick skim of their Instagram account shows even some brand devotees are skeptical about the benefits, though they do love the products.
This mailer only had a $10 discount offer and no free shipping or free returns. It would be better for a company to establish trust with a low-risk offer. As for the aforementioned hype, their products may very well be awesome, but when you build up that much of a story and expectations… shoppers can only be disappointed.
Takeaway: Hone into your target demographic, but be careful about manufacturing a lifestyle. Your authentic involvement should also be crystal clear. In this instance, it was disheartening to see the wellness lifestyle presented as something totally commoditized.
Take a page from Away’s strategy to drive in-store traffic to your permanent brick-and-mortars or temporary pop-up shops. Just be a bit more discerning about distance. Away had the right idea, but they should have chosen recipients based on zip codes instead. My mailer invited me to their new store in West Hollywood (open since July). That’s at least 20-30 minutes from my home. In Los Angeles, we’re in our cars enough. Market to people in as tight a radius from your destination as possible.
I actually love Away and I’m a recent customer… which leads me into their second misstep. My mailer promoted the same luggage set I recently purchased. Now, they clearly purchased my info. from a third party company, but they still need to do their own research. If their marketing and sales teams collaborated closely, they could quickly and easily distinguish that Syama Meagher and the woman with one letter swapped out for another were one and the same. With that insight, they could have either a) skipped me on the mailing list or b) sent me some awesome follow-up marketing based on my new goods.
Away did hit the nail on the head in other ways. They offered free shipping and returns plus a “try one free for 100 days” offer. They also offered $20 off. When you’re marketing to people who have never shopped your brand, this is the way to do it. Make it as simple, hassle-free and risk-free as possible.
The direct mail campaign can be a fantastic way to market- especially today. We’re bombarded by so many marketing messages wherever we go, so campaigns need to be strategically designed to stand out. The right mailers create personal connections because they physically enter potential customers’ homes. The mail is typically boring, e-commerce orders aside, so a visually-stunning mailer will definitely be remembered. Finally, it’s expensive to grow your audience online. You can’t rely on digital campaigns alone if you want to achieve higher levels of growth. That’s why most of the brands I’ve mentioned here are either e-commerce brands or started online, but have since started to explore ways to sell and market in the physical world too.
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