3 Lessons Learned About Direct Mail for Restaurants

Do something once, and everything is new and unfamiliar. Do it many times, and you start to see patterns. We have tested many quick service restaurant (QSR) promotional mailers, using our Mailbox methodology. Our research revealed three key lessons:

  1. If they open it, they will keep it. Getting it opened is the challenge;
  2. Price should be front and center, because it appeals to people;
  3. People keep things they find relevant, and toss those they don’t.

Let’s unpack these lessons about direct mail for restaurants.

If they open it, they will keep it

Our testing shows that there is considerable variation in the open rate, amongst the QSR direct mail offers we have tested. But there is not much variation in keep rates, once the piece is selected to be opened. This makes it clear that the challenge is in breaking through the clutter.

“Remember, we’re living in the attention economy,” said Kevin Roberts then CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi. “You are bombarded with messages left, right and center. Wherever you go, you’re surrounded by brands and media. You’ve got about three seconds to connect with a consumer emotionally and then to interest her.”

One of the ways to interest people in QSR offers is price.

Price should be front and center, because people like it

We find that people often single out the price as something they like because it suggests the mailer is valuable. Asked what they liked about a recent McTaster’s piece people made comments such as “Seeing on the cover that there is a large amount of savings inside makes me anticipate seeing what deals are inside” and “[I like] the value proposition. It catches my eyes right away.” Price is also a reason to keep a piece. For that same McTaster’s piece, among those who keep it, four in five said it was because “it offers great deals.”

People keep things they find relevant, and toss those they don’t

If a piece is not offering value—either literal or metaphorical—it won’t be kept. This is where the diagnostics in Mailbox are invaluable. We capture feedback on both content and creative elements, and this allows marketers to fine-tune their offers, to ensure that they become relevant and therefore sticky.

Uncovering how communications perform

Our Mailbox solution is a virtual experience. It simulates real-world interaction and consideration by uncovering how communications perform, with a detailed evaluation of the value proposition, messaging and communication.

Participants complete an online virtual exercise of sorting and stacking mail as they would at home. They can open each piece, review all pages (front/back), evaluate each piece and choose to keep or discard. We enhance the mail sort experience with a quantitative evaluation of each offer and a qualitative virtual highlighter–mirroring a traditional red pen/green pen exercise. Capturing feedback on both content and creative elements, consumers review the creative included in the mail-sort exercise and indicate specific likes, followed by specific dislikes; providing reasons for why they highlighted what they did.

Mailbox reveals which materials work best and worst, and why. But it also delivers insights into what can be done to improve them.

Learn more about Mailbox in the video below , or download our e-book Tumultuous Times: a quick service restaurant insight menu for surviving and thriving.