rachel bell's direct mail campaign
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rachel bell's viral direct mail case study

I spearheaded the strategy, design, copy and execution of a direct mail campaign that Flip sent out at the end of February 2020. This breakdown of my process is long, but its length serves a purpose—it illustrates my commitment to making my ideas a reality, my determination to learn any new skills that I need to bring an idea to life, how I creatively problem-solve, and how effective my ideas are when put into action.

What we needed to accomplish with this campaign:

Get new users posting quality listings in Williamsburg apartments, specifically in buildings that don't have doormen but have virtual doormen - keypads where you can look up a unit number and buzz the resident to gain access. Buildings that offer entry access this way work best with our tech. We needed to accomplish this while keeping cost relatively low and staying true to our brand voice with advertising content that is funny, piques the recipients interest, and is worth talking about.

What I came up with:

A Monopoly-themed direct mail campaign. If you recall from the last time you played the board game, Monopoly chance cards always list an event happening that forces some kind of change. Flip serves people who are going through a change in life that leads them to needing to get out of their lease. The Monopoly property cards, or title deeds, offered an opportunity to add local flair, letting the recipient know that the content was truly meant for them.

How I accomplished this:

After researching how other companies send direct mail ads, I quickly learned that it wasn't feasible for us in this campaign. We needed to target too specific a cohort of people, and direct mail companies often have outdated names associated with addresses. I get mail for a previous tenant named Michael Perez every week, and no matter how interesting to me the ad looks, I discard it because it's not mine. I knew I needed to do whatever I could to maximize our open and conversion rates for these ads. I used a script to scrape StreetEasy listings for unit numbers in buildings with virtual doormen in our target area in Williamsburg. On my lunch break, I walked a few blocks and collected more unit numbers, since StreetEasy data isn't always complete. I collected 1000 units.

I wrote 60 different copy suggestions for Monopoly Chance cards to be included in the mail campaign and created an anonymous survey for my coworkers to rank which they thought were the best, since I myself am not completely representative of the demographic that would be receiving the mail.

Once a top seven was chosen, I designed the front and backs of the cards and a larger 5 x 7 property card to include in the envelope (seen at the top of this page). I didn't have the names of the people living in these units, and I know that I personally am unlikely to open mail addressed simply to 'Current Resident'. I sent myself and three of my employees letters addressed to their apartments but without any name above the address to see if they were delivered. They all were.

I ordered 1000 wedding invitation envelopes and some metallic pens. I stayed late each night for a week to hand address each envelope in cursive. I predicted that if the mail looked like an invitation to an event, with a handwritten address, recipients would open them regardless of if their name was on the envelope or not.

I worked with our graphic designer to design a custom landing page for the campaign that would still align with our brand but also make it clear to the user that it was made specifically for them, the recipient of the mail. I created UTMs to track the campaign's performance.

How it has performed:

One week after the envelopes were all delivered, Flip had gained 27 new users. Three people had listed their apartments on Flip as a result of the campaign. Direct mail is notorious for having low ROI - this campaign, because of my thoughtful strategy and implementation, is on track to far outperform the average.