Insert Media 101: A guide to how Shopify brands can leverage package inserts in their marketing mix
There are more packages than ever before. This opens up a unique marketing opportunity for Shopify brands to drive sales in an unconventional way.
Almost every day I speak with a marketer who says the same thing. “We were having success on search and social but recently performance has fallen off for XYZ reason.”
If you are one of those marketers, you are definitely not alone. It’s a challenging time to be a marketer in 2023. The playbook of the 2010’s isn’t the playbook of the 2020’s, and many brands are in a testing phase to figure out the new formula. Brands are hungry for new channels, and they are testing everything from Tiktok to Pinterest to package inserts.
“Wait… what are package inserts?”
At a basic level, inserts are ads inserted into different vehicles, the most common of which are packages. You know when you’ve opened up a package and seen offers from other brands inside? Well, there’s a decent chance those inserts came from us at Incremental Media.
There’s two main approaches Shopify brands can take with inserts:
- They can advertise their brand in hyper-relevant packages with other brands.
- They can make money by putting inserts in their packages.
#2 requires some meaningful scale, usually a minimum of 25k packages per month, but if you are at that threshold you can generate significant revenue and help offset shipping costs through inserts.
Is my Shopify brand right for package inserts?
If this sounds intriguing for your brand, the next question might be: How do I know if I should consider a channel like inserts? Historically, inserts work best for two types of Shopify brands:
- Higher AOV Products – $100+ is ideal but the more expensive the better...
- Higher LTV Products – Supplement brands, food subscription companies, and beauty companies to name a few categories.
Essentially, brands that know a $10 CPA isn’t realistic for their product but a $50 - $100 CPA would be a huge win. The reason why this is important is because inserts give you a large amount of space to tell your story, so you can get into detail on your differentiators, a founder story, testimonials, and more. Lower cost, more impulse purchases typically don’t need all that space.
Another good signal to consider inserts is if you’ve seen traction with direct mail, since inserts are essentially a much cheaper version of direct mail.
Targeting buyers with package inserts
Inserts may not have the data targeting capabilities of digital channels but they do have more targeting than they get credit for. Let’s use an example. You are the Head of Marketing at Healthie Meals, a food subscription box for healthy consumers, and you want to test inserts.
You probably won’t be allowed in the package insert programs of companies like HelloFresh, who would view Healthie Meals as competitive, but there are many vitamin programs, women’s apparel programs, and wine programs you can consider instead. Plus you can narrow down your list of insert options by picking the programs whose average age, male/female breakout, and other audience specifics fit your target consumer.
In other words, you can’t target on the individual level but you can partner with specific insert programs that make sense for your brand.
Proving inserts drove new customer acquisition
Insert marketers do attribution in two main ways:
- Promo Codes, Vanity URLs, and/or QR Codes: This will give you the basic direct attribution you need to show consumers are converting.
- Post-Purchase Surveys: This is critical so, if someone doesn’t use the offer you provide on the piece, you still know consumers are seeing your ad in a package and then converting. Many of our Shopify brands use companies like Fairing that are reasonably priced and provide an immense amount of value, not just about inserts but about all marketing channels. If you don’t have a post-purchase survey, companies like mine can help provide benchmarks based on your product category and industry.
As long as you do the two approaches above, you’ll get the attribution you need to prove the channel was successful.
Recap: How Shopify brands can leverage package inserts in their marketing mix
Inserts can become a meaningful part of your marketing mix. We have many brands who spend seven figures a year in the channel. The key is doing it right. There are dozens of decisions when it comes to inserts that could make or break the campaign. When it comes to niche channels like inserts, it’s best to go to the select few companies that are experts in it. They will save you money, time, and increase your chance of success.
Plus, inserts are even more relevant today because the consumers who are getting inserts are the ones still buying products so, even in tough economic times, they have disposable income.
Every one of your competitors is already in all the typical channels. Don’t you want to differentiate your brand and do something unique?
This is a guest post from Eric Smith, VP of Emerging Media at Incremental Media. They buy more package inserts than anyone in the US, plus they specialize in other niche, scalable channels like shared mail and podcasts. Contact Eric to learn more.
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
OrderlyEmails is our go-to tool for transactional emails. It helps us level up our brands’ email aesthetics with customizable, quick-to-implement Shopify templates.
Lately, I’ve been really interested in Smile.io’s loyalty platform. Their UX is fantastic for teams with low bandwidth!
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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Portfolio is a hub for analytics across multiple Shopify stores. The perfect tool for agencies.
See an aggregate view of all your data for all your stores in one place.
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More about the project
Here at Tydo, we try to highlight DTC founders who run their business in various ways. And, that's because there's no "right" way to run a DTC brand.
This project illustrates exactly that. Whether it's how a founder supports their team or how they talk about mental health in the workplace, every founder has a different approach. How do they discover these different approaches? One way: reading. Discover the greatest books that have changed the way 15+ founders think about or operate their business.
You can also listen to these book picks on Spotify or Anchor.fm.