Capital One: What's in my wallet? Information I did not request.

I recently received a new credit card from Capital One.  The card carrier is smartly designed to have a feel of a personalized experience.  The layout and copy are consistent with Capital One's No Hassles branding.  Benefits are clearly explained.  Impressive use of space -- in the block of under where the new card was placed there is a phone number to call with questions regarding my account.

Then why consider a Fail for Creative?  The outer envelope teaser: "The information you requested is enclosed."  I did not request information from Capital One.  The replacement card was not requested.  It was automatically sent to replace an expiring card.

On the other hand, Capital One can't paste on the outer envelope "Your new credit card is enclosed."  That would invite postal theft.  Would a better message be "Important information about your account", or perhaps no message at all?

During my tenure at Citi Cards, we proved through testing that a customer would open just about any mail that was labeled with the Citibank return address.  In offers targeting existing customers, a lack of envelope teaser often had the same or better list yield compared to those with a promotional teaser. 

Perhaps Capital One believes that for existing card customers branding alone is not enough to ensure an optimal open rate.

Learning: Consider the message on your outer envelope carefully.  If you have an active existing customer relationship, you may not need any message.  Focus on the message's appropriateness given the contents and recipient.


When a Hot List cools off and moves out of town

I wrote several days ago how several moving-related companies mailed to me after I already left town, but I did not expect this to arrive from Thomas United Transfer and Storage.

Their solo mail package deserves Fails for List and Timing. Not only did Thomas Transfer mail the moving offer several weeks late, they mailed it to my new address.
Setting that aside, this is not a bad creative package but could use some tweaks. The outer envelope includes a teaser that is relevant to the consumer – practically everyone who moves needs boxes, so why not get some free. After all, “free” is the most beautiful four-letter word in the English language. The package leads with a friendly cover letter that communicates positive features of the company. Meanwhile, the flyer is more promotional and describes the free box offers.

Some ways creative treatment could be improved in the letter:
  • Be consistent with the grammar. Some of the cover letter is written in the first person plural, while the close states, “Please call me …” even though two people signed the letter.
  • Actually include a hand signature of Dawn and Christina. Represent who those people are – the owners? Salespeople? Moving coordinators?
  • Consider more benefit statements, i.e. low-stress, piece of mind. 

At least Thomas Transfer and Storage only wasted marketing money. I wish they had reached out to me earlier so I would not have ended up with Texas Home Movers damaging and losing my goods.

Learnings: Use a hot list quickly before it cools off.  Don't address-correct a solicitation for moving supplies.  If the person moved, don't mail.


AT&T tweaks it’s upsell letter

I commented on AT&T’s customer service style upgrade letter three times. Below is another letter I received. There are not any new fails, but it is interesting to see how a solo mail package used often can be tweaked and improved. Perhaps this is an evolved Control pakage.  

The upsell this time is for only one bundle, although there is a soft reminder that AT&T would like to meet my needs if this is not the best match. There is no irrelevant mention of DirecTV. ‘Kelly’ personally signs the letter. Overall, the letter is warm, inviting, clear, and supporting. It is promotional but does not feel promotional.  Is this package the right choice for a Control?


A Hot List is hot for a reason

I recently moved across country. Twenty moving companies reached out to me with direct mail offers. Of these, 7 arrived before I made a decision which company to use, 8 arrived after I made a decision, and 5 arrived after I left Houston. Below are examples of postcards that arrived too late.

There could be a few sources these companies used to learn I was preparing to leave town. Based on my actions, I believe they included a listing on the Houston Area Realtor web site and inquiry at movers.com. I also completed a change of address form at the post office, however I do not recall the USPS sharing lists as such.

This one, although late, is interesting.  It offers the prospect an immediate benefit -- a discount at Lowe's.  This $10 off $50 coupon is the same offer that is made available through the US Postal Service's Movers Kit.  Perhaps the cost to Allied is zero, but it is an effective way to break through mailbox clutter.

Of course, the speed in which a company reaches out to you to sell is not necessarily correlated with the quality of it’s service. My furniture was shipped by Texas Home Movers, AKA Texas Home Storage. The shipment was late, and several items were damaged.

The company subbed out work to an independent trucker after telling me they wouldn't.  The trucker claimed he completely offloaded the truck at delivery, but still missed a box that was brought by a week later by his brother in-law with major damage.  6 weeks later, items are still missing and I can’t even get a claim form from the company. Needless to say, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and took other action.

Learnings: As a business, if you purchase a hot list, use it fast. As a consumer, avoid Texas Home Movers.


Was this the first failed mail?

I recently visited the National Postal Museum in Washington DC.  It includes some interesting history of the US Postal Service and a statue of Ben Franklin.  The architecture of the building is much like that of Union Station next door.  

Included was a small exhibit about the Dead Letter Office.  Many people from Europe would write to their relatives that immigrated to the USA with only city name in the address.  They didn’t realize how large the cities were, and that without a proper address, the postal service could not deliver.

Nearly a century later, the post office now requires more than address to deliver mail in a reasonable time frame.  First they required a zip code, then a zip+4, and now zip+4+2.

Learning: Whether it is for personal or marketing correspondence, know your recipient and completely address the envelope.