Awards case study: Why Avios' decision to sprinkle a little magic on its direct mail led to a 58% response rate

Purple Agency worked with a professional magician to conjure up a campaign centred on a piece of theatre that combined the physical and the virtual to target senior marketers for Avios

How do you get jaded senior marketing and loyalty directors to be truly amazed by your direct mail campaign and importantly engaged in a digital journey of discovery? You sprinkle a little pixie dust - and abracadabra - you get a response rate of 58%. Magic? It certainly is. But there’s no trickery in what the Purple Agency achieved for its client when it set about promoting Avios’ new card linking technology.

The Pick a Card campaign - using a sealed Perspex box and a personalised classic online card trick - quite simply delivered spellbinding results. You’ll be asking yourself: how did they do that?

About Avios

Avios, originally founded in 1988 as Air Miles, is a leading international travel rewards company, turning everyday spending into travel and leisure rewards. Avios has over 7.7 million members worldwide.

Strategy

Card linking – using a designated credit card to automatically collect reward points – is new to the UK and a new feature of the Avios travel loyalty scheme, Avios wanted to use it to engage new prospects – and generate new leads for its partner programme.

Card linking enables Avios members to collect Avios, using the credit card of their choice, and who says 'pick a card, any card'? A magician.

The direct mail campaign was aimed at 100 'cold' c-suite marketing and loyalty contacts at some of Britain’s biggest retail brands – all with a turnover in excess of £100 million. The tier two audience extended the campaign, through digital direct marketing channels to a further 575 contacts from within these organisations. Each prospect presented a £1 million plus sales opportunity. This was their first contact from Avios, so it had to create impact and get them to engage with a digital journey telling the Avios partner story - and generate sales leads.

These people get many sales approaches by direct mail and other channels, so what was created had to stand out and circumvent the numerous gatekeepers.

The mechanic had to deliver an experience that reflected the 'delight' felt by collectors when they convert their everyday spending into free and discounted holidays, flights and other experiences using Avios. In short, it would take real direct mail innovation and a little bit of magic to captivate and amaze this high end marketing audience and, having gained their attention, get them to act.

Direct mail was the primary activation. Working with a professional magician, Purple set about conjuring up a campaign centred on a piece of theatre that combined the physical and the virtual – leaving recipients asking themselves 'how did they do that?'.

Based on the insight that we are all curious and emotional engagement promotes greater affinity with a proposition, Purple developed a mechanic based on a classic ‘mind reading’ card trick. In this, the magician asks someone to secretly choose a card. They are then asked to make a number of switches, while the magician also removes a number of the cards – in this case symbols representing elements of the Avios proposition. At the end of this process the magician correctly identifies the card, appearing to have read their mind. The challenge was how to translate this piece of magic into an engaging physical mailing piece and integrate it with an online digital experience.

To achieve this, each of the top 100 leads were sent a bespoke, personalised direct mail piece consisting of a locked, transparent Perspex box. The outer was designed to ‘fall open’ in a dramatic reveal of the box inside. To gain access to the box, which they could see contained a mysterious blister pack; each recipient was invited to visit their own personalised URL. No other message was enclosed. The direct mail had to achieve two things. Get their attention, and get them to act – which it achieved spectacularly well.

Their URL took them to a video where they were greeted personally by the magician and invited to experience a little magic. Having participated in the card trick, the magician accurately identified the card they had chosen, delivering a moment of delight and surprise. He then gave them the code to their box and invited them to open it. As the coup de grace, inside the blister pack was a single playing card – the one they had just chosen online, along with a specially designed deck of playing cards, each containing a key Avios partner message. A true blend of: direct mail theatre, art and experience that got the Avios message across, and gained traction with the target audience.

Pick a card image

Objectives of the campaign

To launch Avios’s card linking technology - get the target audience to engage with the Avios proposition - and create a moment of delight. And in doing this, generate leads for Avios.

The target audience

Hard to win over, c-suite and director level marketing and loyalty contacts from some of the biggest names in high street retail brands.

Media, channels or techniques used

Primary engagement via direct mail supported by email and LinkedIn digital campaigns to target tier 2 decision-makers.

Timescales of the campaign

Client brief received April 2018. Direct mail landed November 2018

Results

Of 97 boxes delivered, 56 recipients activated their personalised URL and engaged in the digital journey - a cold direct mail direct response rate of 58%.

So enthralled were the audience that 38% of the URLs were visited more than once, as recipients shared the magical experience with colleagues.

The activities delivered 34 qualified leads, 10 face-to-face meetings, and three proposals with a combined value over £1 million.

“'Thank you for sending me a lovely magic experience box. It was quite exciting and I loved playing along the journey. I’m sure a lot of thought and work went into creating it, so good job on that'. That testimonial came from the international head of CRM and loyalty at a major high street retailer. Received the day the campaign landed, and totally unsolicited, it shows that this was a campaign that really did bring a little bit of magic to the desks of recipients, just as we’d intended it to do. It not only engaged their hearts but also their minds. It got across the important point that by picking a card - any credit card in this case - Avios has the power to delight and enhance the way retailers reward their customers every time they shop. We’re still following up the warm leads, but it’s clear that we have more than achieved the results we wanted, and that the Pick a Card campaign has cast a spell on everyone it’s touched."

Oliver Gryg, senior manager loyalty and commercial strategy, Avios

B2B Marketing Awards 2018 – winners

This submission won the award for Best corporate decision-maker-targeted campaign at the B2B Marketing Awards 2018. 'Pick a card' for Avios by Purple Agency.

Read all the winning case studies

International B2B Marketing Awards 2018