Want proof that a combination of multi-channel marketing and personalization works? Take a look at the campaign produced by Regency Business Solutions for Paragon Commercial Bank. Working through AccuLink, Regency developed a three-stage, multi-channel campaign to help the bank promote its residential mortgages program.
As a commercial bank, Paragon’s rates are somewhat higher than traditional banks, but not limited by government regulations. This enables it to streamline the lending process and attract a more affluent clientele willing to pay a little more for a better lending experience.
“Paragon is used to dealing with businesses and private money where they can make jumbo loans [over $430,000] without meeting certain government criteria,” says Liz Herrera, creative marketing manager for Regency Office Products / Regency ROI. “This gives its customers lots of benefits in terms of closing costs and greatly reduces the hassle factor, a big deal to busy business owners.”
Paragon’s goal was to gain new mortgage loans (both second homes and new purchases), as well as refinances.
After several meetings with the client, Regency ROI recommended that to reach these customers, Paragon develop a three-part variable-data direct mail campaign combined with a personalized web page (PURL) and white paper. It then worked with AccuLink as its “behind the scenes” advisor to supply the infrastructure, production, and fulfillment services to execute the project.
The variable-data mailers would emphasize the streamlined service offered by Paragon (“Quick and Easy Second Home Loans!”) and feature a PURL where the recipient could provide their email address, answer a few questions, and download a free white paper. The second and third mailings went to non-responders and “sweetened the pot” with a free give-away contest.
The bank started with a purchased list of 5,000 names. Names were selected based on specific criteria in the Raleigh metropolitan area. For the second mailing, Paragon added its current clients to the list. For the third mailing, Paragon added its stockholders.
The first mailer was a four-color 11×17 sheet that folded down to a 5 ½ x 11 (like an oversized postcard). It was wafer-sealed and opened to a three-panel brochure. To grab attention, the mailer was high-gloss, UV coated—something recipients would notice in their mailbox. To encourage them to open it, the envelope contained a bulleted list emphasizing key benefits of using a commercial bank, including 30-day loan closings and hassle-free documentation.
Once the mailer was opened, the text spoke to the specific needs of this target audience and pitched Paragon’s in-house, niche lending program specializing in executive loans. The text was personalized by the recipient’s name and included a personalized URL that used as its incentive the white paper offer.
The white paper, “Financing in Today’s Market,” was written by Herrera’s team at Regency, and talked about why it is so difficult to get loans in today’s banking environment, even for those with excellent credit and income, and how Paragon could help.
PURL questions included address and name (matching respondents to the initial list), email, phone, and place for optional comments. There was a place to indicate whether they were interested in a loan for a business, second home, home refinance, or condo.
The second mailing was an Intelimailer™, which is a proprietary form of mailer produced by AccuLink. With the Intelimailer™, the envelope and inside letter are all printed in at one time, then the letter is folded down into an envelope in a single process. As with the first mailing, the Intelimailer™ was personalized by name and included a personalized URL.
The third mailing was an invitation-style A7 envelope with full-color static brochures insert and personalized note with personalized URL. Paragon also included the chance for respondents to win a golf package or a Keurig Brewer with six-month supply of beverages.
All of the mailings were done over a three-month period. The second mailing went out four weeks after the first, and due to the very high response, the third mailing was not sent until two months later.
Paragon was able to determine ROI by matching names of respondents back to the initial lists. Other response metrics were not available because of the number of tweaks the client made to the campaign over time.
The results speak for themselves. The campaign attracted high-quality leads that turned into borrowers and exceeded the bank’s goal by over 400%. The campaign also led to numerous referrals for both its residential loan program and commercial accounts, the opening of new checking accounts and equity lines, and even stock purchases…a nice bonus to the 1,432% ROI.
“Surprisingly, a lot of the prospects skipped visiting the PURL website, instead calling or emailing directly from the mailers,” says Herrera. “The best part was most of them were highly-qualified leads and Paragon was able to approve most of the loans. This saved considerable time for the mortgage broker, who was able to focus her efforts on leads that came to fruition. She was swamped for three months. We actually delayed the second mailing to give her time to catch up.”
An additional bonus has been the increased awareness of the range of services offered by the bank. “Paragon had current customers calling, saying, ‘I’ve been a client with you for years, but I didn’t know you had a residential mortgage program,” Herrera says.
The program was so successful that Paragon requested a fourth mailing for their branch in Charlotte, for which a new list was bought and included the clients from that area. It performed the same. “ROI was based on all costs, including their cost of doing business (the interest they pay on the money loaned, handling, etc.), so the ROI would actually be much higher if just the costs of the campaign had been included,” says Herrera.
Surprisingly, a lot of the prospects skipped visiting the PURL website, instead calling or emailing directly from the mailers. The best part was most of them were highly-qualified leads and Paragon was able to approve most of the loans. This saved considerable time for the mortgage broker, who was able to focus her efforts on leads that came to fruition. She was swamped for three months. We actually delayed the second mailing to give her time to catch up.
What made the program so successful? Lindsay Gray, president of AccuLink, points to three factors:
Gray also pointed to the cooperative effort between client, distributor, and print manufacturer. “Pete Redondo [director of sales at Regency] and Liz Herrera worked very hard on their end to understand from the beginning what our capabilities were both in the design aspects as well as the soft technological services,” he explains. “It really is a partnership, and distributors need to listen to their manufacturing partners (as they did) so that campaigns are executed in a timely manner. I was impressed with the Regency team both from their copywriting and design input but also in their flexibility and willingness to work with our production schedule and advice.”
Pete Redondo [director of sales at Regency] and Liz Herrera worked very hard on their end to understand from the beginning what our capabilities were both in the design aspects as well as the soft technological services. It really is a partnership, and distributors need to listen to their manufacturing partners (as they did) so that campaigns are executed in a timely manner.
What should distributors take from the success of this project? According to Gray, it’s to know your goals, know the recipient base, and plan carefully.
“When distributors call me, they often start off with the request for the price for, say, 10,000 postcards,” he says. “I respond by asking, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ I like to use the example of being at a cocktail party. As you are milling around, would you ask every person you met the same questions? Of course not. Other than Super Bowl ads, how many marketers put a single ad out there to make a sale? What’s the chance of getting someone’s attention with one mailing? This is something Regency and Paragon understood.”
Gray also points to the success of the channel chosen by Paragon to carry its message—print. “Direct mail is one of the most viewed advertising medium since you are guaranteed to get a look,” he says. “There is no other medium that provides that.”