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16 Best Practices for Insert Media Advertising

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 09:14 AM |


Insert media is the ultimate form of insider marketing. By sending your offers as part of the delivery of an already trusted merchant, prospects see your creative in the most positive possible light. Here are 16 best practices to put your marketing materials in the right packages and make the most of insert media advertising.

1. Test Small …free-standing-inserts
… but be sure to test enough to be statistically valid. Many advertisers feel they do not have the budget to embark on a successful insert media campaign. This is not true. Most advertisers do not need to distribute millions of pieces to determine if the channel can work. Minimize your risk by distributing enough to accurately read your response. Testing four programs with 25,000 in each is often better than testing one program with 100,000.

2. Test Smart
When deciding which programs to test, there are many factors that should be considered. First and foremost are the demographics of the host program. In addition, you must be aware of the total universe of the program so there is opportunity to roll out should the tests prove successful. However, don’t be lured into testing a program solely because there is ample volume of packages.

3. Test Broad
Vary your test in terms of category and audience. Testing different audiences is smarter and safer than testing multiple programs in a single category. Do not only test gardening programs, for instance. Expand your distribution to reach buyers in other categories as well. This strategy increases your odds of finding a successful category while a one-dimensional test will result in an inaccurate portrayal of the medium as a whole.

4. Test, Retest
One successful test is not enough to warrant a full roll out in any channel. Take your time with your tests and make sure the positive results are accurate before committing to a larger roll out.

5. Code
It may sound simple, but you would be surprised by how many advertisers don’t code their inserts properly. Not only should each program have its own unique code, but each month in a particular program should also have a unique code. This will yield a better understanding of the insert’s performance in a program over time.

6. Control Works
When testing new channels, or new programs within a channel, stick with what works. After a successful test and retest, then you can expand to new formats, offers, or creative.

newspaper_insert_section7. Use the Space
Don’t get lost in the package—stand out! The average maximum dimensions for a package insert program are 5-1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Use that space as best you can. Don’t get lost in a package with a 3 1/2″ x 5″ insert when you can use one twice a large and attract more attention.

8. Share Results
It is important to share your successes and failures with your list broker. The more detailed the information you share, the more effective they will be in returning qualified program recommendations to you. If a program did not work for you at $45/M it may still be successful at $30/M, but your broker will never know that unless you are open and honest about your responses. A simple “it did not work” is not enough. Be as exact as possible.

9. Multiple Reply
Give the recipient more than one way to respond to your offer. Business reply card, 800 number, URL, even mobile barcodes should be incorporated into your creative. And make those calls to action prominent.

10. Optimize for Mobile
If you choose to incorporate a mobile link in your offer, be sure your site is optimized for mobile browsing. This also sounds basic, and it is, but I still see far too many companies who do not have their sites optimized for mobile. Also, as an alternative, if your offer is two steps or an information request, consider mobile links that simply open up a reply page as opposed to your main offer page. Let customers request your catalog and enter their information before directing them to your offer.

11. Track All Responses across All Channels
You know it’s happening. Customers are getting your catalog or direct mail piece and responding or purchasing online. The same goes for insert media. Do your best to track your responses across all channels so you know just where your customers are coming from.

12. Share Your History
When developing an insert media test campaign, it is very helpful for list brokers to have an understanding of the advertiser’s history with direct mail. The more history you share, the better the recommendation. Some of the lists you have mailed might have corresponding insert programs. If a particular list has been very successful, you should test its insert program as well, or others like it. Also, some lists you thought should have worked but were marginal could prove to be successful with the lower cost of insert media.

13. Be Wary of Duplication
Ask about duplication in programs from the same program owner. Many packages, blow-ins, ride-alongs, and statement programs will reach the same recipient at different times.

14. Maintain Insert Inventory
Although not prudent when in the testing phase, once you decide to roll out this becomes good practice. Programs are always looking for advertisers to fill empty slots at the last minute. Keep a few codes on hand to take advantage of these last minute deals. You’ll be glad you did.

15. Lead Times
Be aware of the lead times when planning your campaign. Most insert media campaigns need to be enacted weeks in advance of distribution. Program availability, collation, production, and delivery all come into play when scheduling your test.

16. Seasonality
When testing a new channel, be sure to test at a time you know performs best for your offer.

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