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What I’ve Discovered About the Discover it Direct Mail Marketing Strategy

• Author: , Management Supervisor

What I’ve Discovered About the Discover it Direct Mail Marketing Strategy

Over the last few quarters, we’ve been keeping our eyes on Discover’s direct mail strategy for the Discover it product(s). My personal intrigue began when I received a DM package with a pink outer envelope. Assuming that the envelope was pink in an attempt to appeal to me as a female, I somewhat dismissed the package in that moment.

But when I looked back at the package a few days later (this is, after all, what we do as DM nerds), I realized the package was pink for a different reason. To be exact, the color of the OE wasn’t pink. It was Rose Quartz, one of the 2016 colors of the year, as explained to me via letter copy. “Brilliant,” I thought. “Discover is taking a culturally relevant color and testing it in DM.”

Discover explains use of Rose Quartz in direct mail package

Since receiving that package, I’ve started reviewing all Discover it packages that I (and any of my co-workers) receive in the mail. And in terms of volume, it’s been a lot. In fact, in Q4 2016 (according to Competiscan), the second most frequently observed individual product in the mail was the Discover it cashback card.

In reviewing the card’s acquisition DM, here is what I’ve observed:

Product offer targeting
Discover manages to take a basic, yet competitive, cashback product and tailor it based on audience segmentation. When Discover targets me, I get offers for the Discover it Cashback Match card with 5% cash back in rotating categories. When it targets an 18-year-old soon-to-be college student, they offer the Discover it Chrome version of the product that offers 2% cash back in restaurants and gas stations, $20 cash back for each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher and a wealth of credit building features.

And Discover does it using the same DM package format and tactics:

  • #10 package
  • core value prop on back of OE
  • slit and nest letter and buckslip
  • chart that demonstrates competitive advantages

DM packages from Discover it

Format testing
Discover also tests multiple formats for the same product. For the Cashback Match product offering alone, we’ve seen dozens of formats and format variations in the mail. The brand is clearly trying to optimize its acquisition rates and is in an aggressive test and learn mode (also evident in their mail volume).

Here are a few examples (expanded package images below):

  • three distinct, yet similar, Cashback Match packages
  • all “pink” (rose quartz)
  • mix of #10 and invitation size
  • variations on package contents
  • all loaded with best practices

OE for direct mail from Discover it

Cashback Match Package “A”

  • #10 OE
  • long letterform with detached buckslip, slit and nested
  • requisite chart with competitive advantages

Discover it DM includes long letter with buckslip

Cashback Match Package “B”

  • #10 OE
  • 2-page letter
  • slit and nested buckslip featuring “The Buzz,” a sampling of 4.5/5-star customer ratings

Discover it acquisition package with customer testimonials

Cashback Match Package “C”

  • invitation-size package
  • folded “brochure”
  • card-stock heft
  • dynamic personalization
  • chart with competitive advantages

acquisition direct mail from Discover it

Creative (and format) testing
This package is for the same Cashback Match product but with a different creative approach:

  • ~6×9 size
  • pocket folder with letter and insert
  • use of customer testimonial and disclosure of average 4.8 out of 5 rating by over 200,000 cardmembers
  • lifestyle photography (a deviation from the majority of text-dominated Discover it packages)

Discover it direct mail with testimonials and lifestyle photography

The best part
In all of its direct marketing, Discover’s tone of voice makes for an enjoyable read. The tone is simple and casual, and Discover manages to communicate parity features and benefits in an approachable, interesting way. For example,

  • “Fee relief” is used as consumer-friendly language to communicate bank-speak for no annual fee, no overlimit fees, no foreign transaction fees, etc.
  • “We’re relentless on security” is used as the lead-in to standard fraud monitoring features.
  • “Compare and decide for yourself” is used as a headline for the card’s competitive comparison charts, a call-to-action that involves the reader vs. simply declaring that the product is superior to its competitors.

Discover has a killer acquisition mail strategy. It tests offers, formats, colors, charts, Johnson boxes, copy and hard-working vs. more creative approaches. You name it; Discover tests it. That leads me to believe the brand may even be doing diagnostic/multivariate testing in which the simplest of changes can potentially have great impact.

As a direct marketer, I obviously have a professional interest in keeping my finger on the pulse of what Discover is doing. Now I have found I also have a personal interest – should I call it a hobby? – in staying on top of what new strategies and tactics the brand is testing, and I am eager to see how the approach to marketing the Discover it product evolves over time.


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