Money Mailer's Mobile Movement1 Jul, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
The long-time household name in direct mail coupons is using the latest in mobile marketing to make retailers' registers ring.
When it comes to consumer behavior, marketers might very well remember 2009 as the year of the coupon. Americans, many months into a long economic recession, have started adjusting spending habits — and one of the clearest changes is the rise in coupon cutting.
For the third consecutive year, Americans redeemed 2.6 billion coupons in 2008. Coupon distributor Valpak saw an 8-percent rise from the previous year in use for products such as groceries, take-out food, home improvement products and specialty retail. Entertainment Publications, which publishes local coupon books and Web sites, saw a 153-percent increase in the use of coupons for daily necessities last year and a 198-percent increase in the use of coupons for "quick-serve" meals.
However, coupon collecting in the United States in 2009 is not just about taking scissors to the newspaper. Where are consumers getting their discounts? In a poll by Prospectiv, an online performance marketing company based in Wakefield, Mass., 39 percent of consumers prefer receiving coupons by direct mail; 26 percent prefer E-mail; 16 percent prefer to log on to store or manufacturer Web sites; and 14 percent prefer newspapers.
Technology, the recession, ease-of-use and greener attitudes have put paperless couponing on the rise. Up to 58 percent of consumers responding to a recent Information & Communications (ICOM) survey said their coupon use would increase if they could download a coupon from the Internet and have it automatically connected to an electronically swiped frequent shopper card. And, according to Juniper Research's new "Mobile Coupons Report," the redemption value of mobile coupons will increase by more than 30 percent by 2010.
Money Mailer Goes New School
Just about everyone in America knows of Money Mailer. If the name doesn't sound familiar, think about opening your mailbox and getting an envelope full of coupons for your local dry cleaner, take-out restaurants, car wash, etc. Sound familiar now? The Garden Grove, Calif.-based company is 30 years old, but just because it is grounded in traditional direct mail, discounting its direct response methods as "old-school" would be very hasty. In fact, this innovative team of marketers has taken a shared mail envelope company and turned it into a mobile success.
In January, the Big City Burrito franchise (BCB) in Denver began dropping direct mail pieces printed with SMS codes. A customer can text in that code to a given number and receive coupons that are redeemedable at BCB. A customer also opts-in by text to receive weekly reminders of BCB speicals andl discount offers in real-time.
Now made up of 260 franchised divisions in 32 states, Money Mailer still focuses on selling advertisements for its envelope on the local level. About a year ago, the company also started selling ads nationally. The idea to go national began five years ago, when Money Mailer wanted to extend solution offerings to other spaces in the DR market.
But perhaps the most dramatic change for Money Mailer began in 2007, when Steven Gray was hired as chief operating officer. He joined with the task of taking Money Mailer's existing infrastructure and making it into a definitive direct response company. The company shifted its focus toward analytics and an expansion into all channels in the marketing space.
"The goal was to get local, plus regional, plus national advertisers working in all channels of DR marketing," says Gray. "I redefined Money Mailer as a direct marketing company with a separate entity that could focus on national advertising."
In addition, Gray was tasked with integrating direct marketing through shared mail, one-to-one and interactive solutions. "Amongst the interactive, we realized in many of the channels we were not leveraging the natural extension of the coupon reach."
In addition, 2007 also became the year that Money Mailer introduced the idea of mobile couponing. The initial task was for Money Mailer, led by Gray, to sell the proposition of shared mail and mobile working together to the company's long-standing clients. The way it works is that a consumer receives a coupon in the mail with an SMS short code printed on it. Then, the customer can text back the code for a discount offer, received via mobile, to be redeemed at a store's location. The customer can also, at that time, opt in for future offers.
When Money Mailer began grouping the mobile coupon ads in with other shared mail ads, the company quickly discovered that a shared envelope with a mobile offer had a 3-to-1 opt in rate, a three-fold improvement from most typical direct mail offers.
"That's where integration comes in," explained Gray. "Mobile can make real-time communication with customers to drive the traffic that advertisers are looking for. It's amazing what mobile can do for local mom-and-pop stores."
Already, Money Mailer has more than 400 local advertisers, including several franchises, using this integrated solution. Each of these franchised stores has to be sold on Money Mailer's mobile couponing individually — while still being endorsed by corporate. Gray says the results speak for themselves, and the local level branches are often quick to embrace it.