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Nufarm Americas

Direct mail and private URLs yield 5.6% response rate

Nufarm, a leading manufacturer of crop protection products, urgently needed to connect with winter wheat farmers in the American Midwest. The company previously used conventional direct mail when reaching out to prospects. While successful in terms of overall response, these traditional campaigns relied on response via Business Reply Mail (BRM), which took too long for Nufarm’s current needs.

With only two sales representatives to cover over 1,500 farmers, and winter wheat planting season approaching, Nufarm needed to speed up its summer marketing campaign, target sales efforts on prospects most likely to buy, and tighten the connection between marketing and sales.

(Download the two page PDF success story)

Challenge

The campaign had four objectives:

  1. Tell winter wheat farmers about the Nufarm Seed Treatment Portfolio and other Nufarm products
  2. Identify those using Nufarm products
  3. Identify those willing to meet with a Nufarm sales rep
  4. Launch the campaign in 2 weeks and generate sales leads quickly

Mail piece design was provided by Elle Alexander Design of Raleigh, NC. Microsite design, hosting, printing, mailing and response management was handled by Laser Image Printing & Marketing.

Strategy

Nufarm used a list of 1,527 mid-western wheat farmers compiled from multiple sources.

Using the line, “Invest 5 minutes, receive $50,” Elle Alexander and Laser Image designed mail pieces and personalized web microsites.  The mailers invited farmers to visit their microsites for more information and to learn how to obtain their gift card. Farmers accessed microsites by entering into their browsers’ personal URLs (pURLs), which were uniquely printed on each mail piece.

Farmers were offered a Nufarm hat for visiting their personalized web page, and a $50 gift card for meeting with a Nufarm sales representative. Personalization was employed throughout the design of both the mail pieces and the microsites to increase the level of engagement.

Campaign strategy relied on the planners’ belief that micro-sites would offer a faster response mechanism than BRM. Campaign planners also thought the microsites would deliver better branding and more product information than a BRM card could.

Nufarm’s primary goal was to set pre-qualified sales appointments for their field reps. “Nufarm wanted to identify farmers interested in seed treatments, to let their sales reps allocate their time more effectively,” explains Sherry Mitchell, marketing director at Laser Image Printing & Marketing. “The Treat Seed Right campaign integrated direct mail with microsites to help them do this.”

Campaign

The first of three mailings was a folded 4 x 6-inch full-color postcard bearing the headline “Great seed starts with Nufarm. Treat it right with Nufarm seed solutions,” with the farmer’s name on the outside. Inside the recipient found his pURL, a listing of several Nufarm seed treatment products, and the offer for the $50 gift card.

A second and a third mailing were sent to non-responders. These were also 4 x 6-inch full-color postcards, with wheat farming and agricultural images. The farmer’s first name appeared on the front and on the gift card offer, Nufarm product listing and the personalized URL were on the back. To increase urgency, the second card bore the message, “[Farmer’s name], your seed is waiting,” while the third told farmers that “This golden [wheat reference] won’t last.”

Farmers visiting their personalized microsites first saw a brief Flash video with Nufarm branding and images similar to those on the mailers. This quickly shifted to a survey page where they were asked five questions that categorized them in terms of their interest in seed treatment, and asked for contact information so a Nufarm sales representative could schedule a meeting.

Mailings went out in three waves between July 5 and August 31, 2010. Each mailing was smaller than the one before it as responders were removed from the list. Total cost of the campaign was $6,500 plus postage and graphic design.

Results

5.6 percent of the farmers receiving the mailing visited their personalized landing page. 4.5 percent answered the survey questions and asked to meet with a Nufarm sales rep. Actual sales results and order quantities are not available for this publication.

A response of 5.6% is almost triple the best-expected result of most non-personalized direct mail campaigns. The 4.5% survey response rate led to over 60 pre-qualified sales calls on the most motivated segment of the list.

Conventional direct mail lacks fast, simple response mechanisms and a way to learn more about customer needs. The Treat Seed Right campaign provided immediate information about respondents, even those who didn’t meet with a Nufarm sales rep. This provided Nufarm marketing executives with valuable information for use in future campaigns.

“All but a few of the farmers on the list were new prospects, not Nufarm customers, so the information we collected can be used to qualify them for both immediate lead generation and other campaigns,” says Mitchell. “This is a very positive outcome, one that would be hard to achieve outside of an integrated, cross-media campaign.”

“We were pleased with the level of interaction, real-time tracking, and customization this project provided,” notes Brian Rund, director of branding and marketing services at Nufarm Americas, “We were able to show a direct link from marketing communications to sales, and demonstrated an impressive return on investment.”

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Mike Dickinson, Account Manager and Estimator
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