Newsletters vs. statement inserts: New study proves differences in effectiveness

FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, FIRST Marketing Company has promoted the use of newsletters as the cornerstone of an effective customer communications program. We strive to provide objective research showing the value of newsletters as a non-intrusive tool that achieves high readership and response. To that end, we instituted a national Newsletter Readership Study program in 1991.

Open to all First Marketing clients, this ongoing study evaluates the effectiveness of individual newsletter programs and also tracks the overall effectiveness of the medium, both within specific industries and in general.

Recently, we embarked on a new study in conjunction with one of our financial services clients, a large credit card issuer. The objective: to compare the effectiveness of a targeted, ongoing newsletter program to that of statement inserts.

How the study was conducted
The test group consisted of 100,000 active Visa cardmembers who received three consecutive newsletter issues -- and no other inserts -- with their monthly billing statements in October, November and December of last year. During that same three-month period, a control group of 20,000 active cardmembers received the regularly scheduled single-message statement inserts instead of the newsletter issues.

In January, the card issuer drew random samples of 1,500 "newsletter recipients" and 1,500 "insert recipients" to participate in a readership survey. The survey questionnaire was developed in conjunction with Sparks and Associates, an independent market research company. The card issuer's marketing and research departments reviewed and approved the questionnaire and methodology.

In February, the targeted survey participants received a four-page questionnaire with a $1 bill as a response incentive and a postage-paid return envelope. Newsletter recipients also received a copy of the December newsletter (page one only), while insert recipients received a sample insert from their December statements for aided recall.

Retail Banking
Managed Care