CoolSavings Begins Offline Direct Mailings

Online incentives marketer CoolSavings is delivering its first direct mail campaign as the company revs up its cross-media efforts.

The company previously rented out the postal addresses of its members who had opted-in to receiving third-party offers. But this week, Chicago-based CoolSavings will deliver the first campaign featuring its own branding with its own roster of advertisers.

The 100,000-piece co-op mailing, targeting mothers in the 25- to 40-year-old range, features advertisers including Disney , Grolier, Olan Mills, and Oreck. Direct mail list manager and production house Response Media is handling the pieces’ development.

The mailings will go only to opted-in members of CoolSavings.com, which distributes online coupons and special offers.

To encourage recipients to open the mailings, the drop will be preceded and followed by reminder emails, and the pieces are designed to resemble the company’s purple Web site (and feature the company’s piggybank mascot/logo, which has starred in CoolSavings’ past television advertising).

“Direct mail is a proven marketing tool that can be dramatically more effective when integrated with online marketing,” said CoolSavings President and Chief Executive Matt Moog. “There is tremendous value in melding both worlds to create marketing initiatives that cross boundaries and reach consumers with the most effective tool at the right time.”

CoolSavings said about 9 million of its 20 million online users have opted in to receiving mailings.

The company’s direct mail program also is designed to enable CoolSavings to track offline response rates. The follow-up email sent to recipients of the mailing will include a survey, asking whether they actually opened the piece and responded to any of its offers.

CoolSavings also said it was working with its advertisers — who placed unique URLs and 800 numbers in their ads — to glean and analyze redemption data.

Ideally, CoolSavings advertisers also will be eager to buy-in to follow-up online and offline campaigns.

“Historically, advertisers have been restricted to one-shot promotions,” said Herb Torgersen, vice president of management services at Response Media. “With the CoolSavings Co-Op they can establish a continuous dialogue with potential customers through the combination of postal and electronic mail.”

The move comes as the online ad industry is looking for ways to better sell its services — and in many cases, that’s by positioning itself as a complement to traditional media and marketing. DoubleClick, for instance, has introduced a number of tools out of its Abacus offline co-op database division, designed to help clients track shoppers’ online and offline activity.

E-centives, a CoolSavings rival, has been making cross-media moves of its own. Earlier this year, it acquired technology from BrightStreet, which issues online coupons redeemable in offline stores. Such an offering, executives at the firm have said, could form the crux of a closed-loop, multi-channel marketing and reporting loop.

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