I first discovered my love for numbers after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. In fact my entire life I never enjoyed the fictional works that most of my peers were into. After reading this book I was hooked. I began grabbing any book that focused on developing theories based on studies and numbers which led me to my subscription to the Freakonomics podcast.

Recently they featured a story called Big Returns from Small Thinking which focused on using psychology to encourage people to make particular decisions. After listening to this episode I was geared up and ready to apply the Nudge Unit philosophy towards one of my client’s marketing and I had the perfect project. We had recently produced a mailing campaign for a Farmers Insurance Agent. This first mailing had a 1.21% response rate, which is around .21% higher than the average response for prospect marketing. Due to the success of the first mailing, the client wanted to send a second follow-up mailing.

Because we were re-mailing to the same people, we wanted to  alter the mailpiece to improve response. We made some major structural changes to the mailpiece which included altering the piece’s size and we made minor alterations to the copy with the addition of the following line:

“We have had many associations get back with us and they are well on their way to savings but you have yet to give us a call.”

This form of writing enforces something psychologists call “social norms.”

In this case we created a norm, which is stating that many associations are calling our client but the current association who received the particular piece has yet to call, making them outside of the perceived norm. My theory was that this would encourage more associations to contact our client for their services.

The Results:


The second mailing, complete with the new line, showed a 143% increase in response. The 2.95% is nearly triple the average response for prospect marketing. This dramatic increase can lead to large returns with a strong conversion strategy. Tackling your marketing strategies by making changes can seem daunting, but with our knowledge about human behavior expanding every year it is important to make informed marketing decisions that can yield strong response and large returns.

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