Luring lapsed customers back – a priority for all brands – is harder than ever during the cost-of-living crisis.
But British pay-TV operator Sky has adopted an “always on” mail approach, continuously generating fresh, surprising, and interactive creative, which has brought it significant success time and again. This long-term, well-crafted strategy has also made it the latest winner in our “Trailblazing Mail” series, run by Campaign in partnership with Marketreach.
“We know there are always going to be customers joining, leaving, or considering leaving us. Which is why it pays to take an ‘always on’ approach to our work. And we’ve had great success with DM that’s contextually relevant to what’s happening in the world at a particular time” says Kirsty Coldman, customer marketing lead at Sky.
“We know that by coinciding our comms to be timely and relevant, it leads to higher levels of customer engagement,” adds Sky marketing manager Becky Castano. “Planned, proactive, and ongoing DM campaigns are way more effective than sending a series of reactive one-offs.”
The approach is to work with stakeholders to identify key dates in the calendar – like Valentine’s Day or the start of the football or Formula 1 season and other major events – that are likely to be most relevant and generate the greatest interest and response.
The brief to the through-the-line creative department at Sky Creative is then to come up with ideas. The best are selected; not just on the strength of the ideas but also on how well they could work together as part of a suite.
“As long as we keep the creative fresh, surprising and interactive, people will engage and respond to it,” says Amy Mills, Sky Creative’s producer. “The ongoing success of our campaigns proves it.”
A powerful demonstration of this approach is Sky’s recent King’s Coronation-themed mailing.
Back in June 2021, as Covid-19 restrictions were easing, Sky spotted a tactical marketing opportunity in the lifting of limits on weddings. It created a wedding invite-style mailer for ex-customers that became one of its simplest and most cost-effective mail campaigns ever.
An invitation to any sort of event has a sense of specialness and value – as did this. The element of surprise, meanwhile, achieved real stand-out and prompted engagement.
Sky Creative built on this further with a King’s Coronation mail pack earlier this year.
The King’s mailer consisted of a personally addressed gold envelope containing a gold-bordered invitation, again personalised, requesting attendance at “a celebration of glorious entertainment” to take place at a familiar venue: the recipient’s own home.
Also detailed was “a majestic discount” to “graciously” welcome back ex-customers “into the immersive Kingdom of Sky Signature and Netflix”. Recipients were invited to “sink into the sublime comfort of your cushioned throne and feast on the latest shows fit for royalty”.
Dress code and order of events were outlined using the same wit and tone.
“Some deliberate restraint with the design and brevity with copy helped give the King’s Coronation pack some real stand-out - particularly when a lot of companies try to fill every piece of white space with words and pictures,” says Nigel Edginton-Amor, Sky Creative’s creative director, copy. “If you want to deliver a message people will take notice of, you don’t always have to shout.”
While it was crucial when developing the pack to ensure the design and copy exuded a royal look and feel, it was also key to strike the right balance between that royal feel and the connection with Sky so as not to overload the recipient with Sky branding.
The solution was a “Trojan horse” approach with Sky branding only revealed once the invitation was opened.
The same was true of content. Instead of using the mailer to communicate information about Sky products and services in detail, the piece encouraged recipients to “RSVP” by calling a phone number to find out more. This call-to-action also made it more likely that people would convert.
Also important was to ensure the mailer complied with Sky’s commitment as a business to be net carbon zero by 2030. All direct mail ideas are reviewed with this in mind, ensuring paper stock, ink and any print finishing comply, while also meeting Sky’s high production quality standards.
Sky’s preferred paper manufacturers and print suppliers are selected according to their environmental credentials too.
When Sky’s King’s Coronation mailer was sent to 350,000 customers earlier this year, the results were more than twice as good as its usual, standard mailings.
“By combining authenticity, personalisation, and timeliness, our King’s Coronation mailing was able to achieve a 105% better performance compared to our standard business-as-usual DM campaign,” says Andrea Locatelli, Sky Creative’s creative director, through-the-line.
“It proves the power of a simple but well executed and beautifully crafted idea,” notes Edginton-Amor. “And the effectiveness of using mail in fresh, surprising, and interactive ways over the long-term”.