Personalization & Premiums Go Up in Publishing

Everyone recognizes that magazine publishers have gone the way of the voucher the last few years, as magalogs and other acquisition packages are rare sights in the mailstream, unfortunately. However, that doesn’t mean that magazine publishers are standing pat when trying to win subscribers through the mail.

Delving into the largest archive of direct mail and zeroing in on magazine publishing reveals two very dominant trends. Personalization is the usage of the prospect’s name throughout the package, and can often go further, such as variable imagery. Premiums are those gifts promised to potential subscribers once they sign up.

Both tactics have always been evident in magazine publishing mail, and that was the case in 2011. But in 2012, both surged unexpectedly, as measured in Who’s Mailing What!

In 2011, 36 percent of magazine publishing mail was personalized, but that figure jumped to 43 percent in 2012 (a 20 percent increase). Also, in 2011, premium usage was at 38 percent but went up to 42 percent in 2012 (11 percent increase).

Let’s look at the New Yorker magazine, as an example. In January 2013, it used both tactics (personalization and premiums). Look at the campaign details, courtesy of the searchable direct mail collection from Who’s Mailing What!

As you can see, the offer was 25 issues for $25. And it personalized the effort in the following ways.

To sweeten the deal, the New Yorker also gave the freemium of a bookmark and then promised the premium of a “weekender bag.” See the buckslip promoting this premium.

Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of Direct Marketing IQ, which operates the searchable database of direct mail and email campaigns called Who’s Mailing What! He can be reached at

Publish date: June 27, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT