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In Print

You’ve Got Mail


Have you ever wondered why 90 percent of the mail you leaf through at home is promotional material? It may seem like a random assortment of flyers and coupon books, but upon further inspection, you might notice the material is fairly personalized to your socioeconomic background and interests.

What you’re seeing is direct mail marketing — still an effective method for health clubs to reach prospective members, especially ones who might be predisposed to check your club out with the right prompting.

“One of the most important benefits [of direct mail] is it’s highly targeted,” said Cheryl Barnett, the vice president of client services at Epsilon. “If we know your best prospects are at a certain income level, in a certain age group and live a certain distance from your club, we’ll reach them with direct mail. We can target based on geography, demographics and psychographics.”

Despite today’s digitization of everything, direct mail marketing, when used correctly, can be the most reliable way to get your club’s message right into your prospects’ hands — there’s no ad blocker for the U.S. Postal Service.

And like any other advertising medium, direct mail offers the flexibility to deliver a wide variety of messages to prospective and current members.

“Mail is a very versatile medium,” said Barnett. “Mail isn’t just for the hard sell — it can actually help tell your brand’s story. Mail is ideal for announcing pre-sales, new locations and special promotions.”

But here’s the million dollar question every business asks about direct mail marketing: Does it actually work? And then there’s the follow-up question: Is direct mail marketing worth the investment?

“Direct mail can offer a great return,” said Barnett. “The cost per acquisition will vary based off the type of club, price point, age of the club and competition, but we often see 40 percent or more of new club members coming from direct mail efforts. We see even higher response rates when coupled with additional channels.”

According to Barnett, direct mail’s return on investment (ROI) is easy to see. “It’s very measurable,” she said. “We know how many prospects receive a mail piece, when they receive it, and whether they call the club, visit or become a member. All the data we collect lets us calculate a client’s ROI and helps us refine our approach next time.”

Through a six-month period of specialized direct mail campaigns, you can determine what to send to certain prospects, when to send it and what other advertising media to pair direct mail with.

“Direct mail is very effective during the high season and for ongoing lead generation as a complement to digital marketing,” added Barnett.

According to Barnett, the process of putting together a direct mail campaign is lengthy, but worth the time and effort. At Epsilon, the creative team follows a specific formula to find the right prospects for its clients.

“We start by sifting through 200 million consumer profiles,” said Barnett. “We find prospects with the right demographics and psychographics for our client, and also analyze the geography and local competitors to help determine which prospects to target.”

From that point, the specifics of the campaign are ironed out. “We construct the cadence and touch strategy for the campaign — when to send the mail, how often and with what messaging,” said Barnett. “As with any medium, we need to reach prospects with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.”

As it turns out, direct mail marketing is the same as any other advertising. You put together a campaign, measure the response and adjust it according to those numbers. And like using any other ad medium, you’ll see results when you execute your campaign correctly.

“When the campaign is in market, we constantly measure the results,” said Barnett. “We determine what’s working and what’s not. We make tweaks to the campaign, then apply those learnings to the next one. A lot goes into a direct mail campaign when it’s done right.”

Is it time to put direct mail marketing to work for you?

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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