Direct Mail and Marketing Tips


Premiums As Response Devices


Everyone loves a freebie, even the most simple and basic items that aren’t worth a great deal are well received when they’re free. From a consumer’s point of view, premiums build trust, create excitement and make the receiver feel valued as a potential customer. From a business point of view, they act as a great way to start a positive relationship and build brand awareness.

Lumpy Mail

When businesses send ‘lumpy mail’ with premiums like free samples or free merchandise, research shows that open rates are much higher. Even though direct mail is, of course, tangible, ‘lumpy mail’ makes it even more so. However, the cost and time involved in sending a campaign with premiums included are much higher. With this in mind, rather than focus on sending premiums as a tool to increase open rates, why not use them as a response device?

Opens vs Responses

Open rates are, of course, the first goal when it comes to any direct mail campaign. From here though, any open would be less valuable if it didn’t result in a response. Responses are your next goal, and of course more important than opens. 10,000 opens and 100 responses are far poorer than 5000 opens and 500 responses. You can see where we’re going with this…

Enough responses = a return on your investment. So focusing all of your attention on using premiums as a way to boost open rates could add a lot to the time and expense involved in sending a campaign without the desired result. Of course, you know this. But what if there was a better way, a way to almost guarantee that every receiver of a premium is a ‘warm lead’?

Here’s an Idea….

What if you made receivers call or visit your website to claim their premium? Short snappy messages such as ‘Call to Get Your X Today’ should push responses rather than opens. Open rates might well be lower because you’re losing that ‘lumpy mail’ advantage, but expenses should be less and responses higher. With this approach, you’re only incurring extra costs for those clients who are truly interested in your offer. Overall ROI could well be higher as a result of higher quality leads.

We couldn’t say without a doubt that this approach would work better than sending a premium in the initial campaign, but it makes sense to give this a try. The only real way to know what will work better for you is to test both methods in an A/B split test style approach, keeping everything else the same throughout the campaign. We recommend you start testing small quantities to find something that works for you and then turn up the dial once you have a winning formula.



About the Author

Wilson Zehr is a Direct Mail Industry Expert, Direct Marketing Specialist, and CEO of Cendix (, the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that increase sales both online and offline. He is also the founder of Zairmail (, the company responsible for many "industry firsts" in direct mail.


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