An Unkind Cut?
“The only thing we altered was giving them an additional response mechanism,” she says. “What we’re finding when we talk to people is they’re passing our newsletters on. So I think people didn’t like the idea that they were cutting out this coupon, and if they wanted to pass the newsletter on to somebody it would have this big hole in it.”
Another problem with the cut-out reply was that a lot of donors — not wanting to cut away part of the newsletter but wanting to donate to ACA — would mail a check in the enclosed BRE without including the trackable reply device.
“We had a lot of unknown donations that were coming in,” Ravenscroft says.
Since the initial test, ACA has worked to lower the cost of the insert. The second time the newsletter with the floating reply dropped, it went to 91,000 people and cost the organization less than $2,000.
Testing, take two
When Ravenscroft arrived at ACA, the organization was sending — and had been for nearly 10 years — as its cold-acquisition package a plain gray No. 10 envelope with the Alley Cat Allies logo and return address in blue on its face. The envelope flap on the back featured “Thank you for your help!” copy in blue, and below the flap was a box with an ACA testimonial from allpets.com magazine. Thinking the package rather bland, especially in terms of what she saw other animal-welfare organizations such as the Humane Society, the ASPCA and PETA mailing, Ravenscroft suggested testing a redesigned, more visually appealing package.
“Everybody seems to have bumped their appeals to include color and to be more dynamic and engaging, at least visually when it first hits the mail, so we thought we would test that,” she says. “Alley Cat Allies was in a position where we wanted to kind of beef up our image, and we thought maybe this is a place where we can do it; we can make ourselves look like the other organizations that we’re in competition for funds against.”