Testing Case Study: Greeting Cards vs. Calendar

We once had a client insist on mailing each donor a single shoelace. They called it a “premium”. It was an Alzheimer’s charity and they had some copy about how the condition can make tying your shoelace a challenge.

It bombed, big time.

That’s because not all premiums work the same. Some premiums work much better than others, and it can be difficult to know which premiums work the best without testing them against each other.

Here is an excellent example, from the 2014 Christmas season. (See image above). An overseas aid charity tested two premium-based cold mail acquisition designs.

One design included a full-size four-colour wall Calendar, which was tested against a portfolio containing 3 Greeting Cards, 2 sheets of gift wrap, and gift tags. Here are the results:

The Greeting card package was 11% more expensive, but generated a 30% higher response rate. That reduced the cost to acquire each donor by $12, a 40% reduction. It also generated 350 more new donors.

Now, if you had hired us to do your 2015 Christmas direct mail campaign, we would have shared this intelligence (and more) with you before your holiday appeal lodged this year.

But there is still plenty of time before your 2016 Tax campaign. No other agency produces premium direct mail that works as well as ours does. Other agencies have tried to best our designs, and failed many times. So get in touch with us sooner rather than later.

Case Study: Vision Australia’s response rate tripling house appeal 2015

Here’s a great example of how premium house appeals dramatically increase your second gift rates and donor retention.

Mailed in Feb, 2015, this premium house appeal included an enamelled lapel pin, a 2015 Supporter Card personalised with the donor’s name and embossed with “Thank you” in braille, and a custom designed pen in the shape of walking cane. Plus, if you donated $50 or more, you also got a Iris themed tea towel.

The package was tested against a much lower cost non-premium package. Here’s how they performed:

The premium design cost $100,000 more to mail, but it raised $154,000 more in donations. All that “stuff” made money. The net income almost doubled.

But the most important thing is that the premium package pulled a response rate almost 3 times higher. That means the second gift rate rose 3 times faster. It means retention improved 3 times faster, and it means the Lifetime Value of went up as well

Whenever you increase the response rate to a house appeal, you are increasing your second and third gift rates, your improving your retention and your making your LTV rise.

That’s why premium house appeals work better than non-premium designs.

To run this same test, just get in touch…

Why Premium Direct Mail Fundraising works so well in Australia

According to figures from Australia Post, premium charity rate direct mail is the only category of mail in which total volumes continue to rise. And for us here at Ask², 2015 marks the third year in a row in which our clients have doubled their volume of premium direct mail.

What’s driving this explosive growth is largely financial, as you can see from the chart above. Although premium direct mail often costs more per piece than non-premium direct mail, it generates a much higher response rate, and a much lower cost per donor acquired.

But that’s only half the story. The real financial benefits come when a charity combines premium direct mail acquisition with premium direct mail re-solicitation:

A premium cold mail acquisition package generates 5x more donors to re-solicit. And if you re-solicit them with a premium house appeal, the response rate is usually double that of a non-premium house appeal. Those two numbers multiply against each other and the net income per house appeal increases ten times.

Many charities in Australia have built up large numbers of premium acquired cash donors, but very few are using premiums in their house appeals. That’s a shame, because if you are using non-premium house appeals, you’re really making it much harder on yourself financially than you really need to.

Of course, the production lead-times for premium direct mail are longer, so if you’re thinking of adding premiums to your 2016 Tax Appeal, it’s best to get in touch with us now. If you start thinking about it in March, it’ll be too late.

Taronga Zoo “Ultrasound” Holiday Appeal

It was eight years ago, Christmas 2008, that we developed one of the first “premium” direct mail fundraising packages in Australia — Taronga Zoo’s “Ultrasound” Christmas Appeal 2008.

You may recall, in the middle of 2009, that the Taronga Zoo’s first baby elephant was born, turning into a huge hit with visitors and a world’s first for the Zoo.

But back in 2008, all we had was the ultrasound image, so we turned it into a direct mail premium.

And not only did it perform better than any previous holiday appeal in the Zoo’s history at the time, but it also prompted a few nervous calls from several men on the list swearing they never met “Lucy Melo” and that “the kid isn’t mine”.

Guide Dogs Victoria Donor Acquisition Survey

In just over 11 months, this pack raised over $1 million for Guide Dogs Victoria and brought 30,000 new donors on board at an average cost of just $10 per new donor.

And yesterday the Fundraising Institute of Australia awarded it Best Acquisition Package for Victoria 2016, for large organisations raising over $5 million a year.

Congratulations to Guide Dogs Victoria, and best of luck when they announce the National winner early next year!

Hold my Hand, I’ll Ride with You

This coming Tuesday, 15 December marks the one year anniversary of the Sydney Hostage Siege at the Lindt Café on 15 Dec, 2014.

On the morning after, like many Sydneysiders, I went to Martin Place to leave flowers and I was very deeply moved by the outpouring of compassion I saw from so many people, and from people of the Islamic faith in particular.

I was also inspired by the I’ll Ride With You (#illridewtihyou) campaign on Twitter that unfolded during and after the siege, and which went viral around the world. It made me very proud to live in this country.

I made a short video tribute, called Hold my hand, I’ll ride with You. Just click on the link above.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and victims of the terrible tragedy a year ago in Sydney. And like so many Australians, I truly believe that the only way to move forward is together.

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