The use of your customer list and communicating your knowledge of them to them can lead to smart direct mail -- or to a Fail. This self-mailer from a Honda dealership is an example of effective use of a customer list …
… the recipient owns a 2002 Odyssey and needs regular service. So a mailpiece that references their car will get a high open rate and effective response rate.
A postcard from UnitedHealthOne leverages an insurance company’s knowledge that a family has a student in her fourth year of college to offer post-grad individual insurance:
In this case, the student is planning a fifth year of undergrad studies. UnitedHealthOne could get bonus points if it sends another postcard next year. Also, the postcard was addressed to the student’s father with a message referencing making the “mother proud.” That could be interpreted as a cultural reference rather than a literal one, so no Fail here.
So, what kind of list use would be a Fail? Referencing children’s age and behavior that are not accurate. This letter from American Express was mailed to a parent with an outer envelope teaser reading “Give a teenager something they can always carry with them.”
However, the recipient’s youngest child is a 35 year old homeowner. The body of the letter talks of teaching financial responsibility more broadly to “your loved ones”, an appropriate message for a middle-aged parent with children 15 – 21. But that was not the case here.
Here is a full-out Fail.
an Acura dealer references the recipient’s “pre-owned 2008 Acura RL”, however the recipient does not have an Acura. In fact, he never even set foot in an Acura dealership.
Learning: Ensure that data on your customer list is accurate, especially when referencing your information with customers.