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Pouring on the pressure with late renewal notices.

Some years back The Kiplinger Washington Letter had a conversion/renewal series for an introductory trial offer that ran to 14 pieces, including about eight post-expire, before response dropped below one percent and it became uneconomic to send another notice.

Kiplinger even had a form letter to send to customers who complained about the barrage, explaining that response to the first notice was 23 percent of the final total and that if they sent only one or two notices they would have to raise the price of the newsletter to make up for the lost revenues.

Before the change from McCall's to Rosie, the magazine provided an excellent example of the strong late renewal which really attempts to pour on the pressure as the expiration date approaches.

Thirty days between notices is not set in stone. Four pieces arrive in just about two months at the end of the term. All are mailed in #7 3/4 window envelopes and, interestingly, even at this point in the series all are still mailed standard rate-even at the "at expire" date. Here's a description of the four notices:

#1. A double-window kraft envelope with "Date Renewal Certificate" teaser and a window showing:


Inside: A combination letter/ Renewal Certificate (with certificate border) and a "deadline date" of Feb. 25, requesting a response. The offer hasn't changed since the opening of the series... an attractive rate for both one and two years. The P.S. brings in the guarantee (for unfulfilled issues).

#2. A triple-window yellow envelope in faux telegram ("Tele-Dispatch") format. The second window shows a live first-class stamp (the other pieces include prepaid BREs), and the third window shows "Expires March 2001." The telegram-format text begins:

"Your name is among those soon to be dropped from the list of McCall's Subscribers, but...."

And the copy does its best to imply that the subscriber is eligible for the low renewal rates only while continuing on the active rolls. The response devise section does bring in the "58 percent saving over newsstand price" that was not featured in #1.

#3. A white double-window envelope with bold Final Renewal Notice teaser. The offer remains the same except, for the first time, a credit card option is added to the "check enclosed" and "bill me" payment options. The letter copy asks for a "decision," even if it's "cancel," and establishes another "deadline date" of March 22.

Perhaps only people in the business will have the reaction of "Is this really the 'final notice'?"

#4. And it wasn't. Another white envelope with an oversize window and Renewal Notice teaser. The additional feature is a "Yes/No" sticker option, visible through the window, and the letter inside is headlined:

Suzie Subscriber ... I Need Your "Yes" or "No" Renewal Instructions

The offer doesn't change, but they do add, for the first time, a "No" box ("Do Not Renew My Subscription At This Time")- and yet another new deadline, four weeks after the previous one.

The letter begins:

"The final issue of your current McCall's subscription has already been mailed to you so I need your renewal instructions now."

This raises a difficult question. Renewal marketing philosophy holds that with the copy you should attempt to "retain" the subscriber as long as possible... don't tell them it's over. On the other hand, there is the group who will renew only when they realize they won't get another issue. You want them to recognize this point when it arrives. This sentence could have been bold, or even envelope teaser.

It's difficult to maintain the momentum of a renewal series. Publishers get frustrated; they've written "Don't Miss a Single Issue" and "We Know You're Busy" several different ways, and often the renewal series tends to peter out just about at expire. Don't let it.

Allie Ash, who was a CPA in a former life before becoming publisher of Personal Finance and Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street, says that nothing you can do in newsletter management brings in more dollars to the bottom line than raising your overall renewal rate five percent.

When I was at the newsletter association, post-expire efforts brought in a fraction over 4.5 percent of our total overall renewals.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jun 30, 2001
Previous Article:Deciding what to insert with the sales letter in your DM package.
Next Article:Flattery will get you everywhere.

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