As part of “Mailpiece Mondays, I will review a section of what I get in the mail and comment on it. Today, I am going to tackle all of the credit card offers I’ve been getting.

Apparently my wife and I are targets for Credit Cards. Good credit; nice neighborhood; own a niche (Amazon) credit card – seems like they’ve got us pegged for someone who wants another credit card. So what determines whether I’m opening the offer (from a direct mail and from a marketing standpoint)? Well, I’m gonna tell you (with five core takeaways at the end) 

National Bank 1

The first bank that I received offers from sent me six over the span of a month. Six! I’ll give them diligence. With each mailing, the offer slightly varies, 0% APR for 15 months, 0% for 18 months with a cash reward, differing cash back rewards. Overall, this bank seems to be pulling out all of the stops. But did I open them? 

The pieces that clearly displayed the offer on the envelope, and if the offer appealed to me (“cash” is always a good motivator), I generally gave them a chance. A plain grey envelope had much less impact than a full color piece with highlighted fonts. Also, the larger mailers immediately stood out to me. It was also interesting to me that half of the offers were for a VISA card and half for MasterCard.

National Bank 2

National bank 2 showcased all of their offers in a full color envelope with branded colors and fonts. Each offer was completely different, sans one exact duplicate. To me it doesn’t make a lot of sense to send the exact same mailpiece if they didn’t open it the first time. Test, and learn. Each one of these pieces caught my eye, and I likely would open them if the offer was right, and the offer was shown through a window on the envelope. This is where variable print can really maximize your offering.

Inside was a full color, personalized letter explaining the benefits of the card. Nice touch. The forms were much shorter than the previous mailing from National Bank 1. When you are asking somebody to fill out an application by hand, it always helps to make them do as little work as possible, with prefilled fields where applicable. If I’m preselected, can’t they do some of the work for me?

Neither of these banks bothered with the salutation, which in a lot of ways might have been a smart move.  Nowadays, you can’t make any assumptions about marital status in your mailings.  Neither bank used PURL technology or QR codes to expedite the online application process. A PURL would have been nice, to help not have to navigate through bunch of forms to get the offer I was prescreened to receive.

Airline Rewards Card

We got three pieces from a major airline card. All three looked almost exactly the same, with subtl variations on the front. They flip flopped the offer to spice things up (free checked bag AND XX,000 bonus miles, and then XX,000 bonus miles AND a free checked bag), and used branded colors. They chose to use the salutation, and luckily for them, they hit it correctly. On the back of two of the pieces was a simple personalization, that really didn’t make much sense: “Greenville, enjoy a suite of cardmember benefits.” I live in Greenville, but that’s not my name… 

I was (sort of nostalgically) pleased to see the fake credit card in the self mailer. I am not entirely sure why they do this. Perhaps using near field communication, the card could sync with my phone and take me to the website where I apply. Now that’s a good use of technology.

Airline Rewards Card 2

Sadly only one mailing from the other airline rewards card. Single color envelope. Lots of information crammed onto the one page of application info. They, however, did use a personalized landing page with an easy to type URL. Unfortunately, the form was not at all prefilled and called for a personal ID code that I had to search the form to find. This mailing could have done a little better.

Retailer Card 

We received two mailers from the same retailer rewards card – exact same piece. Once again, there was a fake credit card in their for display purposes, but with no real functionality. Preprinted stock with some color. Personalization on the first line, but nothing deeper in the piece. Not a BAD mailing, per se, but really could have benefited from some of the aforementioned areas.

So, here are your five takeaways

1.  Use full color where applicable. Whether there is empirical research or not, as a consumer, I was much more likely to open the pieces that had color on the outside, and to continue reading if there was color and graphics on the inside.

2.  Make the process as easy as possible on the end user. QR codes to whisk me away to the site, PURLs to link me to pre-filled forms with a personalized experience, and the use of emerging technologies like near field communications would have added a nice element to these mailings.

3. Use personalization where possible, but be careful. I personally think a mailer could have done a better job when my wife’s mail appears as Ms. Haskell, (or even worse, Ms. Stewart, her maiden name). If you choose to personalize, use it throughout the document, not just in the title. Modern equipment can allow you to hyper personalize a piece.

4. Use intelligent inserts. If you’ve gotten me to open your credit card offer, what else would make sense beyond just a return envelope? If you know from the recipients frequent flyer card that they fly all of the time, offer a free checked bag on their next flight, but don’t necessarily offer this to every recipient. Personalize the outside of the envelope with this information so that it gets opened. There are so many examples of this phenomenon.

5.   Track the mailing.  I have no way of knowing whether these mailings were tracked, but using a combination of :

1. Dashboard-based mail tracking (to see when the piece arrived)

2. PURL or QR code technology (to see when the offer was redeemed or inquired about)

3. Remittance tracking (on an outbound scan, to know how to handle incoming mail stream and to plan for future efforts) the mailer can glean a great deal of insight for future marketing campaigns.