December 13, 2006
Thanks to the Internet, coupons practically offer a brand-new world to marketers in terms of leveraging the traditional offer via online while delivering savings-minded customers into brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Discover how a health-product manufacturer combined coupons, the Internet, a sampling program, direct mail and DRTV to get trucks zipping out of their warehouse. Not to mention how they motivated retail partners -- tidily synched up with the coupons -- to push the goods and create double-brand loyalty.
Brilliant multichannel strategies, tactics and creative samples ...
“We have to strategically find ways to drive customers into stores because we are not an ecommerce site,” says Sheryl Biesman, Internet Marketing Manager for Nature Made Wellness Advisor, a division of Pharmavite. “We need to bring them back to our Web site with a reward or an enticement in order to engage them and then encourage them back into retail.”
Before this year, Biesman’s team carried out a multichannel strategy limited to a Web site mention in print advertisements and retailers’ circulars. However, they wanted to step up the game and bring in completely new customers rather than attract repeats.
Television commercials are an efficient way to draw attention, but could Biesman tie them to her online and offline initiatives? Plus, how could she keep track of customers who were spreading out to 75 retail partners?
Biesman used a pair of ad campaigns to drive home the benefits of Nature Made’s products and to make the Web site and brand part of the consumers’ neighborhood shopping experience.
Step #1. DRTV campaigns, micro-sites and coupons
First, they put together seven DRTV commercials last spring -- six highlighted a single product while one touted the brand overall. To accompany the 2-minute-long commercials, Nature Made launched micro-sites for each product to best serve prospects and track response.
An in-house team developed all seven spots. Viewers were encouraged to visit the Nature Made Web site or call a toll-free number to receive up to four coupons amounting to $10. Interested consumers could print the coupons from their computers or choose to receive them via postal mail.
Those who responded to the ads were also able to sign up for a rewards program at http://www.NatureMade.TV, with a chance to earn more coupons after building up points. In addition, $1 coupons were emailed as follow-ups on a regular basis to keep the audience active with the brand.
The home page of the Web site also featured a big banner ad that read, “Did you see the Nature Made TV commercial? Click Here to request your coupons.” Clicking the link let viewers replay the commercial and sign up to get their coupons.
Step #2. Postal mail/email combo
In May, Biesman’s team mailed 15,000 samples of the company’s multivitamin (a two-week supply) not only to drive awareness, but also to measure the reach that the product had already achieved with older women, their chief demographic.
Recipients of the samples received a follow-up “Thank You” HTML email within a week and were invited to take a survey discussing what types of vitamins/supplements they currently used and what they knew about Nature Made’s products. In particular, since the firm specialized in “letter” vitamins (A, B, C, etc.), Biesman was interested in knowing whether people were aware of their multivitamin offering.
The list was generated from a slew of banner ads at health- and food-based sites, such as http://www.AllRecipes.com, that promoted the free-sample offer. Of course, the coupons were mentioned in the mailing as well.
“One of the great things about this type of [campaign] is that a person has to go through a fair amount of effort to get the sample,” Biesman says. “They have to give up their information to us, and there’s the issue of privacy for some to get beyond. So, it’s encouraging to market to people who you really feel have an interest in your products.”
Step #3. Bring rewards efforts to the local store level
While spreading the word this year, Biesman’s team also collaborated with retail partners to set up online methods of localizing coupons. Viewers who signed up were asked to select their favorite drug store or supermarket chain from a drop-down menu of 75 brands.
Cobranded by Nature Made and a preferred retailer such as Kroger, Walgreen’s or Rite Aide, both logos appeared on the printed coupons. The preferred retailer could be revised in the customer profile at any time.
Biesman’s team tracked the coupons to tally SKUs of each product type sold, allowing the advertising and product development staffs real-time market analysis. In addition, customers were asked if they wanted to receive sales alerts from retailers and were told that they could participate in a rewards program to achieve even more savings.
They also set up micro-sites, such as http://walgreens.naturemade.com/, to highlight the joint feature. Biesman worked with retail sales reps to coordinate Nature Made’s email alerts with specials that the preferred retailers ran. For each of the 75 retailers, the company created an opt-in consumer file.
“The idea behind it is to create double-brand loyalty,” Biesman explains. “And the relationships help educate consumers about the entire product category, which is often riddled by confusion among consumers.”
Even though DRTV leads are costlier than online advertising, Biesman is convinced of the program’s effectiveness. The spots drove coupon requests to heights unseen, and six of the seven campaigns have already been slated airtime for 2007.
“If we look at the percentage of people responding to our DRTV spots who are new to the database, it’s extremely encouraging,” she says. “That was one of the big goals we set out to accomplish.”
Of the coupon requests generated by DRTV, 52% were made at the company’s Web sites while the rest were via the toll-free number.
The free samples surveys taught Biesman a handful of useful points about their audience. Of the consumers who responded, 94% said they were using another multivitamin, and 77% didn’t know Nature Made had a competing product.
More importantly, 72% said they tried all two-weeks worth of Nature Made’s multivitamin, and 78% said they planned to or had already purchased the product. Word of mouth was good, too, since the same percentage indicated they were considering recommending the multivitamin to a friend or family member.
Biesman describes the overall success of the sampling mailing as two-fold: “We were able to get the word out with the free sample and also learn about how we needed to better market the multivitamin in the future.”
Nature Made’s efforts to tie coupons and online to their store partners is drawing rave reviews from the stores and consumers alike. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about how much customers appreciate the emailed retail alerts and online coupons,” Biesman says. “It gives our sales reps something extremely exciting to talk about with the retailers in their meetings. Our online relationships also give stores an extra incentive to move our products.”
Useful links related to this article:
Creative samples from Nature Made’s initiative:
Respond 2 Communications Inc., the agency Nature Made used for the DRTV portion of the campaign:
Silverpop, which managed the email lists and email program for Nature Made: