Unlocking the Power of Package Inserts with Fairing's Attribution Technology

by Eric Smith, Incremental Media

Today's guest post comes from Eric Smith, SVP of Growth at Incremental Media.

Let's take a trip down memory lane to 2019. Post-purchase surveys were still in their infancy, far from the ubiquitous tools they are today. My company, Incremental Media, began working with a slew of DTC brands, focusing on package inserts. For the uninitiated, these are printed offers from other brands that you find inside a package you've received.

Historically, package inserts were a channel aimed at an older demographic—those 55 and up. These campaigns often drove customers to call a 1-800 number, resulting in surprisingly high direct attribution. But then, DTC brands, ever-hungry for new channels, started exploring the world of inserts.

As the largest buyer of package inserts in the U.S., we thought we had it all figured out. But something wasn't adding up. Our core programs weren't delivering the results we expected.

Then, after much brainstorming, it clicked. We knew that many people ignored our promo codes, URLs, or QR codes. But without a matchback capability like direct mail, how could we capture the halo effect? How could we prove that our inserts were driving more conversions than just those people using the promo codes?

Enter Fairing.

Fairing is our go-to post-purchase survey tool for the brands we work with. The biggest challenge for package inserts—and all offline marketing, for that matter—has always been attribution. Fairing has revolutionized our campaigns by providing clear, actionable attribution data—simply from asking customers how they heard about the brand at the point of purchase. Suddenly, "failing" campaigns were smashing their CPA/ROAS goals.

The Fairing Effect: More Than Just Promo Codes

Imagine you're a brand selling dog food, health supplements, or a food subscription service. Your package insert might look similar to the fictitious example below for Incremental Media. Some people use the code "IM" or scan the QR code, but many don't. They research the brand, decide to make a purchase, and then convert. Once they do, they encounter the "How did you hear about us?" question. We recommend including "Flyer In Package" as one of the options—it's straightforward and easy for customers to understand.

Incremental Media Direct Mail Example

On average, for every person who uses our promo code or scans our QR code, two more say they heard about us from the "Flyer In Package." That's a 3x multiplier, although it can vary depending on the brand and their sales strategies. Real-World Impact: A Case Study

Let's look at an anonymous example of a subscription brand we've worked with. Without the multiplier effect from Fairing's post-purchase survey, the campaign missed its CPA goal. But with it, the campaign exceeded goals in some cases by nearly 50%.

CPA Goals with Fairing Data

The Data Speaks Volumes

The evidence is irrefutable. If you're engaged in offline marketing and aren't leveraging post-purchase surveys, you're essentially flying blind. You risk misjudging potentially successful campaigns as failures. The resurgence in the popularity of inserts, a topic I recently discussed with Marketing Brew, is no coincidence. As the digital landscape becomes increasingly competitive and privacy updates make social channels less reliable, brands are on the hunt for new avenues. And with the surge in eCommerce, the opportunities for package inserts have never been greater.

Why Inserts Are a Game-Changer

Let's talk numbers. Sending a piece of direct mail can cost a staggering $500-600 CPM. In contrast, package inserts typically fall in the $50-60 CPM range. That's a monumental cost-saving, and you still have the flexibility to target your audience contextually. The achilles' heel of package inserts has always been attribution, but those days are over. Now, we make it a point to ask brands if they have a post-purchase survey in place. Without it, we're back to square one, struggling to prove the value of package inserts.

The Uncharted Territory

While we've made significant strides, there's still work to be done. We believe that many responses categorized under "Other" and "Mail" in post-purchase surveys actually relate to inserts. These can take various forms—be it blow-ins, ride-alongs, or billing statements. We're collaborating with Fairing and our brand partners to include secondary questions that can offer more nuanced data. While no survey can capture every format perfectly, having concrete data that shows people chose "Flyer In Package" is a monumental step forward.

The Final Takeaway

In summary, if you're running offline marketing campaigns without the ability for matchback, post-purchase surveys are your lifeline. They provide the data you need to prove that your channel isn't just driving conversions—it's driving incremental conversions. You're reaching new audiences, not just the same people you'd reach through other marketing channels.

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