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  Special Information  /  Reinforcing Mailings

Utilizing automated prerecorded calls to reinforce a mailing response.

Or, how to increase the response rate of your
mail-back requests and lower overall campaign cost.

Political mail is essential to most campaigns, but getting it read is quite another matter.

A national study in 2000 showed that 43% of all political mail gets thrown straight into the trash without ever being looked at. The remaining pieces are read for an average of only 4.3 seconds each.

We completed a project in Southern Nevada in 2003 that used reinforcing calls for political mailings – one that had a mail-back response requested.

This was set-up for a controlled test by splitting the mailing list roughly in half and using auto dial reinforcing calls for only one part of the list.

The mail pieces were coded as to which set was mailed with or without reinforcing calls, and the returned mail pieces were recorded accordingly.

Response rates for typical political mailings in this region – for those requesting a pre-paid return mail response, are in the range of 3-5%, but are frequently much less.


The Project:

Consisted of 16,000 mail pieces for a County Commissioner race in Clark County, Nevada.

The outgoing mail piece was a tri-fold with a perforated tear-off, pre-paid postage, mail-back questionnaire.

About 9000 of the mail piece recipients were also sent a short automated prerecorded message from the candidate, at about the same time or slightly earlier than when they were to receive the mailing, stating very simply that “a mail piece was on the way and would you please take the time to respond”.

The Nevada campaign received back:

811 total responses out of the total of 16k mailed, or, a 5.1% overall response rate.

621 responses were from the 9k call set of reinforced mailing (a 6.9% response rate) 

190 responses were from the 7k typical mailing set (a 2.7% response rate).

The automated call reinforced mail pieces resulted in well over three times (327%) the response (77% vs. 23% of the total responses).

The results are certainly significant, and typical – for using reinforcing calls.

Assuming a nominal cost of 35 cents each for 16k tri-fold mailers with a prepaid tear-off mail-back piece, and using cost of 6 cents each for the 9k long distance calls, this total project cost was approximately $6,140.00.

This project’s cost per mailed back response was ($6140.00 / 811) =  $7.57 each.

At the above 2.7 % response rate (not using reinforcing calls), a 16k mailing would cost a campaign $5,400.00, and elicited about 434 replies = $12.44 for each response.

If a campaign used reinforcing calls for the entire 16k list it would cost a total of $6560.00, and have resulted in approximately 1100 replies = or $5.96 for each response.

And, from another viewpoint:

At this project’s response rate of 2.7% (by not using reinforced calls), it would have taken an additional mailing of 22,880 pieces (at 35 cents each = $8,008.00 to achieve what the simple application of 9,000 autodialed calls did for only $540.00.

This is a cost saving difference of $7,468.00 - were there actually that many more voters to mail to and if the campaign actually had the additional money to do it.

The average pledge amount for responses in each segment was about the same.

Based on this and many other similar projects we have done over the years, we have found that voters and consumers alike will read a piece of mail and respond at a much higher rate when it is given the extra “human or personal touch” (that a candidate’s prerecorded phone message can provide). It helps to breath “personality” into the mail piece.

Makes no difference if you are asking for a mail-back, a call back to your inbound 800#, the directions to your web site, or simply requesting that the addressee pay particular attention to your mail piece, you will find that reinforcing calls of this nature can be very effective.

Our special thanks to the political consultant on this project for allowing us to outline the material above:

Dave Thomas
Policy Communications
Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (702) 228-6208
Email: davidwins@worldnet.att.net


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