North American airline – Case Study
When we discovered that one of our clients, a North American airline, were distributing excessive and costly brochures to all of their customers, we saw an opportunity to streamline their marketing efforts. We identified areas of the marketing chain that we could improve with the help of technology and through reducing the amount of paper used in the process.
Our client boasts a fleet of over 20 Airbus aircraft, operating flight services to Canada from the UK, and distant destinations including the Caribbean and Europe. As North American travel experts, the business provides both vacation packages and flight only options, to facilitate the needs of all travellers.
Our client’s current marketing strategy
Traditionally, our client had arranged the distribution of a bi-annual vacation catalogue. These were typically sent to customers or interested parties, in Summer and Winter. Summer editions showcased city breaks and adventure excursion, while Winter editions showcased skiing trips and snow-capped mountain escapes.
While these brochures are inspiring and laden with captivating images, the company was not aware of how well these were working or if they were converting to sales at all. Moreover, the cost of printing an extensive, glossy brochure and distributing them with no ROI tracking model in place didn’t benefit the business.
How did we help?
Reducing costs & resources
After assessing the current marketing strategy and consulting with our client, we decided that we should initially start with installing a marketing database. This would allow the business to utilise names and addresses to identify past purchase history, returning customers and the types of travel they were interested in.
Next, we decided to test a lower cost method whereby we distributed postcards, to sample group, featuring less information, a strong call to action and attractive imagery. Despite this scaled-back approach, the client received the same response from the postcards, as they did from the full brochures. Not only did the result remain the same, but the business also saw a dramatic reduction in their outgoing costs spent on printing and distribution, due to the reduced amount of resource required.
Repeat customers & one-off purchases
The marketing database allowed us to identify the correlation between past purchases and the likelihood of repeat custom. Through this, we discovered that our client saw repeat business primarily from customers only purchasing flights. This was often customers who owned second homes, travelled for business or frequently visited family and friends living in North America.
Holiday packages were often one-off purchases, for customers seeking a once in a lifetime style trip. These customers, typically, were less likely to make repeat purchases following their trip, due to the nature and cost of the holiday.
Utilising this information, we established that it was not economically sound to distribute brochures to the whole of the database and only upon the customer request. Through this, we reduced overall costs, reduced the amount printed and resources used. This method also ensured that our client was making their marketing budget work more efficiently.
Installing a database was a successful way to track and store data, to the advantage of the business. Moreover, we identified ways in which the client could integrate technology into their marketing efforts and move more activity online.
The success and interest generated from online activity proved that the previous print efforts had been inefficient and dated. Taking advantage of online marketing tracking systems, our client is now better able to understand their customers, their demographics and their purchase habits. This means that they now distribute more relevant information in the format that is preferable and most effective to the individual segments that make up their customer base.
Overall, we ensured that our client stopped investing money into activity that wasn’t generating a market return for their business. We implemented methods to better track and understand their customers behaviours and preferences, in order to serve more effective and appropriate content. We implemented a system to ensure that advertorial postcards reached interested parties to ensure that a band presence was still in place, at a lower price point, with brochures still available on request. The reduction of print demand came at a reduced income to Absolute, but ultimately provided our valued customers with a more effective strategy and sustained a more profitable business as a result.
Using Innovation To Drive ROI
Engaging with a mail order clothing company the challenge to Absolute DM was to freshen up their acquisition DM without adding to cost, whilst improving ROI if at all possible.
The business was mailing around 200,000 32 page A5 acquisition brochures, six times a year, in clear polythene with the reverse of the brochure personalised. The pack was returning an acceptable enough response rate to sustain the activity but the ROI had pretty much flat lined.
Absolute DM audited the pack for cost of manufacture and mailing, including postage, and proposed a test that involved a complete overhaul of the mail piece; with the test format running alongside the existing (control) format.
This involved creating a fully sealed, peelable outer wrap, fully personalised inside and out, camera matched to the 32 page A5 which had been pre-personalised to the reverse.
The advantages included:
- A vibrant outer wrap with more selling space and the opportunity to introduce individually specific offer messages.
- A fully peelable outer that revealed a personalised letter and offer to the inner, including a footfall voucher to retail outlets and a personal code for website offers.
- A more environmentally friendly product.
- A product with greater postal efficiencies.
The commercials were based on moving the product from Advertising Mail High Sort (the best service a wrapped or ‘Naked’ product can aspire to) to Advertising Mail Mailmark (the optimum service available) and introducing Intermediate Sustainable discounts (not available with polythene).
The combination of the two released in excess of £30.00 per thousand packs, which, when added to the original cost of manufacture created a budget that covered the costs of the new pack with an amount to spare.
The objective then became to match the response rates and create an immediate improvement in ROI.
As the pack was ‘new’, had greater interactivity, had more relevant personalisation and effectively ‘worked harder’, the response rate improved and ROI increased substantially.
This format understandably became the ‘control’ for subsequent campaigns.
Adding Value in POS and production
The Fragrance Shop – November 2016
The Fragrance Shop runs multiple retail campaigns each season, with a store estate of nearly 200 stores. Each store has a different set of print requirements, with assets running across varied creative, sizes and stock. With new stores onboarding regularly and developments in campaign assets needed ongoing it’s a challenging project for the team.
Absolute DM were brought into partnership initially to help improve on brochure and flyer assets, providing a quality improvement and process assistance that improved our output in this area. Our ongoing discussions covered the wider marketing elements, including in store print.
Over the course of some months, a detailed provider review was completed, using the skill set of Absolute alongside the requirements and research from The Fragrance Shop. Our aims to introduce better lead times, more robust production and improvements in cost efficiency were paramount alongside the aim to develop a partnership that could bring ongoing improvements.
Refining the proposals ongoing led to a managed move of our in store print and ongoing developments. In particular, we have achieved cost improvement and improvement in materials. The main element however is the level of service we’re now enjoying – we’re used to challenges in our retail production, and these are now managed rapidly and effectively.
The defining characteristics that Absolute DM brought to the project were diligence, detail, and in depth review. We’ve applied this to other areas of production at The Fragrance Shop, and had some great success with some complex jobs working in partnership with Carl and Tracey – our fragrance blotters are now the exact quality we require, have a consistency across batches, and a specification of production that’s been refined and repeated to ensure they are absorbent, printed clearly, dried effectively at a heavy weight, and delivered fit for shipping.
We continue to work closely on new areas, and appreciate the transparency and knowledge that Absolute DM bring to the team. I’d recommend anyone considering a review or an introduction to print for store or mailing to contact Absolute.