In January of 2014 Mail Shark was hired by one of the fastest growing pizza chains in the country. Our mission? To execute a direct mail menu campaign for a single store in the franchise.
This was great news! If the campaign is a success, there would be a major opportunity to provide direct mail services to the other franchise owners in the organization. We were honored to be considered for the job and felt this was the perfect opportunity for Mail Shark to prove the success of our direct mail programs.
One of the first questions we ask every new client is “How do you plan on measuring the success of your direct mail campaign”?
“We plan on counting coupons and looking at sales” was their answer.
Fortunately for us (and them), we know that counting coupons and monitoring sales alone does NOT provide the complete picture of what direct mail is actually doing for your business.
For this campaign we advised our client to place a call tracking phone number on every mail piece. This call tracking number would allow us to identify every incoming phone call to the pizzeria that was generated from this specific direct mail campaign.
- Mail Shark designed and printed (12,000) 10.5”x17” tri fold menu mailers.
- A unique call tracking phone number was printed on all menus.
- The mailing campaign spanned a total of 11 weeks.
- Menus were mailed in increments of around 2,000 pieces per week on specific weeks.
After the 11th week of sending out menu mailers, we contacted our client to see how things were going. They told us sales had been declining and that the direct mail program was not working! Something was not right.
Needless to say we were surprised to hear this. Our team had been monitoring their phone call activity. Calls to the pizzeria had been steadily increasing week over week since the beginning of the campaign.
Our team pulled report data from the call tracking software and found that our client received 686 phone calls during the 11 week mailing period. That equates to a 5.72% response rate!
686 phone calls / 12,000 mailers = 5.72% response rate
Keep mind that their 5.72% response rate did not include:
- Online orders
- Coupon redemptions
- Walk in orders
Therefore, we knew the return was even higher than 5.72%.
So why the decrease in sales? It was time for further investigation.
One of the best features of call tracking is the ability to listen to recorded phone calls. Phone call tracking provides a wealth of information such as the date, time, length of call, etc. but listening to the actual phone calls can be an “aha” moment for business owners.
We listened to the phone calls and immediately noticed two things.
- Customers were being offered coupon discounts without asking for them. Employees were literally giving away discounts for free.
- Employees answering the phone were not properly upselling the customer. This particular franchise has guidelines for upselling and employees were simply not doing it.
Are these two examples the sole reason for the decline in sales? Most likely not, but it’s a starting point for identifying operational issues.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is that if sales are down, it might not be your marketing and advertising efforts to blame. There are many elements to running a successful business. You have to understand how each element works and have systems in place to accurately track your efforts. If not, you could be making business decisions that will ultimately put you out of business for good.
A Happy Ending
To end our story, our client continues to use direct mail and their response rate from their first campaign is now approaching 10% on phone calls alone. Take a look at the graph below. Phone calls continue to roll in weeks after the mailing has been completed and the numbers continue to rise!
1092 phone calls / 12,000 mailers = 9.1% response rate!
What can we learn from this experience?
- If sales are down, it might not be your marketing efforts to blame. Investigate all areas of your business to find the answer.
- Placing call tracking phone numbers on direct mail is an important tactic to consider. Listening to phone calls can provide valuable insight on your employees and sales process.
- Counting coupons and monitoring sales alone is not an accurate gauge for the success of your direct mail efforts.
- People hold on to menu mailers well past the initial mailing cycle. This is proven by the number of phone calls generated weeks after our client’s menus had been mailed.
- Direct mail works!