Playing Offense with Format Rotation 

Author: Steve Schoenborn, Account Executive


Everyone has a favorite season and for me, it’s fall. I enjoy the cooler weather (especially after enduring a hot summer), the comfort of jeans and a sweatshirt, the changing colors, golf, and especially the long-awaited football season. Now you might be thinking, “what does football have to do with direct mail format rotation?”

When it comes to football, do you ever get frustrated with your favorite football team’s offense because you feel like the plays they run are too predictable? When the plays are the same time and time again, the defense knows what’s coming, and when that occurs your team’s chance of winning is greatly diminished. The same occurs when format fatigue sets in for a mail piece.

What is Format Fatigue?

When marketers send the same piece of mail to consumers, again and again, format fatigue sets in. Once a consumer has seen the same mail piece multiple times in less than a 6-month period, they most likely don’t even open it. They’ve seen it before, know what to expect, and they no longer give it attention. This can be avoided when marketers build up their offensive strategy with format rotation.

What is Format Rotation?

For marketers that mail frequently to the same audience, developing and rotating a stable of control formats is critical to reducing package/format fatigue. Although it’s difficult to pin down specific industry statistics, we all know that format fatigue is real and measurable. As a result, we typically recommend a testing process to develop multiple effective controls that, at minimum, vary in some physical fashion. For example, a strong rotation for a monthly DM program could include a #10 package, a 6 x 9 package, a folded self-mailer, and a monarch-sized package.

Methods of Format Rotation

As mentioned above, the physical size of a mail piece is one way to switch up the format design. Other options include alternating imagery, messaging, as well as switching from a branded design to blind or a sophisticated design vs. promotional. Rotating the controls from one mailing to the next will help keep your audience’s attention and entice them to interact with your direct mail. Changing the look and feel of the content is also recommended. You can change the layout of the content by moving the sidebar, changing the look and/or location of the offer and changing the call to action, etc.

Marketers don’t have to call trick plays to be successful, but sometimes you need to mix in a reverse or a play action pass or a screen pass to keep the defense honest. Just be smart, follow testing best practices to establish a solid rotation of controls, and keep your audience on their toes.

If you’re looking for help in developing and/or expanding your rotation of controls, the Nahan team is here to help. Reach out today!

Pillars of Direct Mail

Author: Mike Dietz, Sr. Creative Director

I have been developing direct mail for more than 20 years. That’s right, before the digital age changed the way marketers connected with their customers.  To some, direct mail seems like an ancient marketing tool that should have gone out of style like pay phones. So why is it still such a critical channel for so many successful marketers today? The answer is simple…it works.

Creating direct mail campaigns in 2021 is dramatically different then creating them in 2000, but there are two pillars that remain the same and are the cornerstones to successful campaigns.

Get noticed.

The first pillar is the ability to create a physical piece that will stand out in the pile of mail that we encounter each day when we return from the mailbox.  We want to create a mail piece that makes it to the next round of scrutiny and not one that takes an express trip to the recycling bin never to be opened.

I want you to think about your personal process of sorting mail, what causes you to keep or to toss? How do you perceive size and weight? How do you interact with flashy promotional packages compared to simple plain envelopes with very little information on them? Unfortunately, there isn’t a black and white answer when it comes to selecting a creative approach. There are proven tactics that aid in the development of a successful mail piece, but each project provides their own set of unique factors. Brand recognition, audience, offer, budget and competitive pressure all contribute to the creative strategy that help shape the final product.

Convince me.

The second pillar is the challenge of motivating someone to engage.  To read or at least scan the contents of package and spark a desire that the product or service will save them money, create a sense of security or make their life easier.

Offer, benefits, and understanding the barriers that influence the consumers decision making process, make up the core considerations of messaging and positioning. These factors are driven by data and what we know about our audience. Much like the challenge of getting a mail piece opened, there is no magic answer. There are proven best practices that can be followed to establish a solid platform that you can build from.

Harder than you think.

Direct mail creation is hard. To be successful, the piece needs to capture the consumer’s attention in a short period of time. The wonderful thing about this channel is that everything is measurable. The other amazing thing about direct mail is that it will never be perfect. Ongoing testing is the lifeblood in developing consistent and healthy programs. Understanding what is working (and not working) is critical. Testing insights need to be strategically leveraged to improve controls or develop innovative creative challengers.

Experience Matters.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when you take on a direct mail project.  Life in the world of direct mail is never boring; each day brings new challenges and new puzzles to solve. I haven’t even mentioned production or postal requirements. I will save that for another blog.

Three Benefits of Working for Nahan


Author: Nick Hammitt, Marketing Intern

Nahan is an award winning company with amazing opportunities for its current and future employees. If you are considering joining the team at Nahan, I’d like to tell you about three benefits of working here. From the first time I walked into the building to interview, I could feel the family-like atmosphere. As I walked around the facility, every single person I came in contact with said hello to me. That truly mattered to me when making the decision to work for Nahan. 

Here are three benefits that I see in working for Nahan:

1. Leadership That Values Their Employees

Nahan has over 350 employees and we are ranked as one of the top 20 largest employers in St. Cloud, MN. We are thriving and are constantly looking for new team members. One of Nahan’s most valued traits is our ability to maintain a small company feel, while being a robust and growing company. It is a priority of Nahan’s leaders to be accessible to employees and the needs of our customers, and be willing to step in at any point to make decisions and to support the team. It’s part of the reason we’ve been able to be so successful over the years.

Our leadership makes sure to acknowledge the employees and their milestones. Whenever we have anniversaries and employee events, the leadership is here celebrating with the team. That is quite a good feeling to see that Nahan employees are recognized and valued for what they do.

 2. Values

Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard a lot about Nahan Values. These values were established by our owners and our leadership team. Here at Nahan we live by these values. When we recognize our team members, we always associate the recognition with upholding at least one of these values:

N = Never Stop Being the Best

A = Always Treat Others with Dignity and Respect

H = Honesty and Integrity

A = Amaze Our Internal and External Customers

N = Now is the Time

3. Culture

The last, but most important benefit I see in working at Nahan, is our culture. Culture is important to the owners at Nahan and it’s important to the employees as well. These employees have seen each other through milestones, growing families, successes, and challenging times as well. When we asked our employees to share their favorite part about working for Nahan. The resounding majority of our team said “the people” and since I’ve been here, I’d definitely agree.

Employees come for the work but stay for the culture. I had recently pulled a statistic and 28% of Nahan’s employees have worked here for more than twenty years! It’s incredible to see statistics like that and seeing the culture first hand, I believe it.

Learn more about Nahan’s culture and current job openings.


The Value of Triggered Direct Mail


Author: Sean Wambold, VP Client Solutions

What are trigger mailings?

How many times have you bought something online, looked up what a monthly loan payment would be or gotten an insurance quote, only to get follow-up offers in the mail? Or moved to a new home and received furniture offers? This happens every day and is known as trigger mail. Trigger mailings are “triggered” by an event – your behavior – and are the most effective type of direct mail campaign. Response is typically 40-70% higher than a typical mailing.

Trigger mailings produce superior results

Marketers that work with data know that prospect and customer behavior – whether it’s a credit inquiry, purchase or a life event, our interest in a product or service – is more relevant than our household income or which zip code we live in. But as marketers, we also know that consumer attention is fleeting – just because we’re looking at switching auto insurance because we received a rate increase – doesn’t mean we’ll still be interested a month from now.  The best trigger programs reach us quickly with personalized offers while the interest level is still high.

But how do you build an effective trigger mail program? Nahan’s solution is in combining both fresh and highly targeted trigger data and an efficient production process that reaches prospects quickly, with the right creative and messaging.

Trigger data sourcing

The two main trigger data categories are Credit and Invitation to Apply (ITA) data. Credit triggers typically come from the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Trans-Union and Equifax, and include auto, credit card, mortgage, personal loan, home equity, retail, and insurance inquiries.

ITA data is non-credit based, comes from many sources, and is driven by lifecycle events like age, marriage, employment, home purchase, moving or shopping. There are approximately 38MM to 65MM credit inquiries a month. ITA data ranges from 10-20MM monthly occurrences. Trigger data can also be web-based, such as cart abandoners or visitors to a website, captured via software or IP address.

Trigger data costs more than the usual compiled demographic data and non-triggered credit data. This is because of its credit bureau or multiple data sourcing and the extra work involved in capturing it daily, linking/deduping from multiple sources, cleaning it, and then delivering it for mailing, all within 24 hours. However, our clients usually find that the added benefit of far higher trigger response (+40-70%) greatly outweighs the additional cost. In some cases, it may be worth testing first class postage against standard class in terms of total ROI.

Nahan’s trigger data: faster, fresher, and more accurate

Nahan provides highly targeted triggered data via its credit data agent partners, who can also supply ITA lifecycle data. A credit data agent consolidates data from the 3 credit bureaus, providing real-time, deduped, and cleaned trigger data, delivered to Nahan for production within 24 hours. The “freshness” of this data means superior response results. Credit data agents have the ability to access all credit-active consumers, identifying the “best” address and info for an individual across the 3 credit bureaus. Because they source from 3 bureaus, they find 15-30% more net triggered data than is available from a single bureau.

Data can also be ranked and prioritized by the use of sophisticated predictive models during the 24-hour data processing period. These models leverage thousands of credit and non-credit data points, which dramatically increases the amount of available predictive data. Machine learning algorithms enable us to evaluate and sift through the data to find the right combination of data elements for the best model performance. Model performance continually improves as updated campaign results are added to the data.

Nahan’s trigger production: fast, flexible and nimble

One of Nahan’s capabilities that I’ve been the most impressed with is the agility of our platform and how well it can support the execution of high-performance trigger mailings. With our dedicated triggers team, we can provide flexibility and nimbleness unmatched by competitors. We convert the complex programming process into a simple, automated lights-out program.

Timing is everything and partnering with a solutions provider that delivers a quality product provides a major advantage. At Nahan, our 48-hour turn-around time, from receiving data to first mail-drop, sets us apart in our speed-to-market. Our experts can leverage the data to create a personalized direct mail piece based on the consumer’s behavior that arrives in-home as fast as 5-7 days after the event. We can also time triggers to an integrated mobile digital program.

What matters – the results

Analysis conducted across client products and industries has proven a Nahan trigger response lift ranging from 40-70% over traditional direct mail credit data programs. Analysis also indicates that it is crucial to reach recipients within 7 to 10 days after the behavior event. Nahan triggers average 7 days from event to in-home when first-class postage is used. After that, response begins to drop off. First class mail usually out-performs standard class mail on a cost-adjusted basis.

Nahan’s trigger programs are perfectly timed and managed to interact with prospects at the right time with the right offer. They work because they quickly and effectively identify and reach prospects that have expressed a need through their behavior. We understand that our clients’ offers are not the only ones out there and recognize that a program that brings together high-quality data, superior production, and speed to market is crucial for marketing success.