Targeting Inactive Customers With Postcards

You probably know that a prospect needs to see your business name an average of seven or eight times before they trust you enough to buy. When you consider the high cost of advertising and the lifetime value of a customer, it makes sense to try to recapture your inactive customers (people who have not purchased from you in the last six months to two years).

Postcards can be an inexpensive means of accomplishing this goal. However, to make your campaign effective, you need the following: (1) a good list, (2) strong offers,(3)an eye-catching creative, (4) repeated mailings, and (5) measurable results (in that order).

Begin with your list. Take at look at each inactive customer. Do they live far away and come to your store once or did they buy from you many times? How much have they spent with you? How long has it been since you have seen them? This can sometimes give you a better idea of who these customers are.

Now, you need to find out why they stopped doing business with you. Was it a problem with your product? Service? Price? What would it take to get them back in the door? Telephone surveys are probably the best way to obtain this knowledge. Since most customers don’t complain (they just leave), negative customer feedback is a gift. If you truly believe that and it comes across to your customers, you can probably conduct these calls yourself. However, to ensure the most honest answers from your customers, it’s best to use a third party.

Once your list is cleaned up (you know who to remove and have gotten some useful feedback on what would motivate the rest), you’re ready to create your offers. Remember, inactive customers are very hard to motivate and will not respond as often as your loyal customers. With that in mind, make your coupon or offer aggressive. Spending a little money here is a wise investment: many will not respond and those that do have the potential to become regular customers in the future. Don’t waste your money on the postcards if you’re only going to offer a 10% discount. If possible, pick a coupon that will appeal to a lot of people and gets them back a couple of times. For example, a car dealer may offer: buy one oil change, get the next one free. A free service, a substantial discount (like 20% off), or an added value to a purchase work well. Relating the discount to your product or service gets you the more bang for your buck than a gift certificate to another store.

To keep your piece from going in the trash, make sure it’s eye-catching. Bright colors, bold the offer or use large size font, use an unusual picture, an odd shape, or a clever statement to get attention. Make sure both sides of the postcard are compelling.

Plan to mail once a month for at least three months in a row. If Christmas time is where you make your money, schedule an October, November, and December campaign. People need enough time to respond. You may even want to increase the discount you’re offering for non-responders.

Finally, make sure your results can be measured. A discount code for your website, a coupon that must be brought in to be redeemed, or asking customers what prompted their purchase when they come in are examples. You may even want to split your mailing into two groups and test different wording or incentives. Tracking the results, will help determine what works and where you should spend your money next time.