Creative Insert Ideas

If you open the next credit card statement you get in the mail, the direct-mail package will, without a doubt, contain a promotional insert.

With their limited real estate, inserts often prove to be one tough design challenge. But those who accept and master that challenge are rewarded with entree into a cost-effective channel that delivers strong ROI.

Alice Calista Cronin, creative director, core media, for agency Holsted Marketing, offered up some of her most successful creative test ideas for this miniature media:

  • Include involvement devices, such as scratch-offs, stickers and lift windows – anything that invites the recipient to touch, open, move and interact with the insert.
  • Emphasize the word “free” above everything else. In inserts – maybe even more than in other forms of direct mail – “free” is the most powerful statement you can make.
  • Place secondary emphasis on your great price. Make it seem even greater by having a price, crossing it out and writing in a lower one.
  • Highlight any endorsements or co-brandings. Inserts carry an implied endorsement from the mailer or cataloger they are riding with, but try playing this up even more by including your partner’s logo as often as it will allow.
  • Develop a “choice” offer. It goes against conventional wisdom, but Cronin has had great success with choice offers, such as “get 20% off or select a second item free.”
  • Create urgency with order deadlines. To give your insert a longer shelf-life, test vague deadlines, such as “order within the next 10 days” or “send no money now” or “order today,” against more specific ones.
  • Play with size. Test going as big as the insert program will allow – which usually brings in higher response – against a smaller effort – which may have a better backend.
  • Keep it clean and simple. The limited space of an insert doesn’t allow much room for complicated offers or graphics. Don’t confuse things by selling multiple items; just keep the emphasis on the price and one primary product image.
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Published: May 9, 2007

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