Going (Less) Wild
Tweaks along the way
“A zoo is a living, growing thing,” Esposito says. What this means in terms of direct mail is an ever-changing, ever-updated direct-mail control.
“We’re continually updating it with the events that are coming up, any new animal births, new exhibits that open,” she says. “We’re also trying new premiums.”
The zoo has tested its current “Plush Zoo Animal” offer against two free tickets on the zoo’s safari shuttle, but the stuffed animal has won out as the premium of choice; it plans to test the zoo animal against a T-shirt in the near future. The zoo also has tested the inclusion of a four-color premium insert, which beat packages that didn’t contain it.
Similarly, on the reply device, the prices for membership levels — Couple, Family, Keepers’ Club and other — are crossed out and replaced by the $10-off discounted price. According to Zahrly, the zoo tested the flat $10-off rate versus a 10 percent-off offer, and flat discount was the winner — even though 10 percent off is a greater value for the higher levels.
“It’s more tangible to see the $10 off with the strike through,” she explains, adding that the zoo is considering testing a $15-off offer.
A zoo of challenges
Changing the mailing and trying new things is important for the zoo not only because it’s “a living, growing thing,” but also because of the competition the L.A. Zoo faces.
“We’re competing against the San Diego Zoo and also in this market when you think about where people are going to go with their family entertainment dollars, we have Disneyland and Universal Studios, and we have so much here,” Esposito says.
Another challenge the zoo faces is the amount of time it takes to construct a new exhibit, which makes it difficult to promote in direct mail.