How to create package inserts that work

Posted by Pam Neely on Feb 9th, 2017

So you’ve got your next order nearly all packed up. You’ve checked the packing list. You’ve made sure the order won’t get damaged on its way… and now you’re about to seal up the box.

Wait!

Where’s the package insert?

Don’t forget it. You’ve got an opportunity here to earn more sales, nab a new customer or even clear some old inventory.

All it takes is a simple slip of paper.

Package inserts don’t have to be anything more than a note. Many Etsy sellers send a simple, handwritten thank you note with every order.

Or a printed business card with a coupon code. Like this:

Thank You Insert 10percent off

But that’s just the beginning of what you could do.

I know - you’ve got enough to do already. You just want to get this package out the door. Is messing around with a package insert going to be worth it?

In a word: Yes.

Here’s why:

Package inserts get noticed.

We’ve written about how special the unboxing moment is for shoppers. Including a package insert in the box means your message is part of that magic moment. Package inserts – especially nice ones – get read. Maybe it’s because they remind us of the gift cards that come along with presents.

It costs little to nothing to deliver the package insert.

You’re already shipping the box. It’s unlikely that the few extra grams of weight from the package insert are going to cost you any more.

Package inserts can be made for pennies each.

If you’re a micro-business, you could just handwrite your package inserts. Use nice stationery paper or any interesting craft paper.

Package inserts can be customized.

Personalization is one of the biggest trends in ecommerce right now. Witness how many Etsy stores offer personalized goods. Package inserts are a fantastic way to personalize a message, or to send an offer targeted to a particular customer group.

Package inserts convert.

The average conversion rate for package insert marketing programs is .35%. It can range from .15 to 1%, but .35% is average. And that’s for acquisition – for inserts sent to someone who doesn’t know your company. If package inserts work that well for acquiring customers, they could get double that conversion rate (or better) from your existing customers.

How well your package inserts convert depends on a lot of things, of course. But one of the best ways to draw attention to them is to make them interesting in the first place.

Package inserts: One size does not fit all

Spending the time to create a handwritten note is great. But if your business is too busy to write a note for every order, consider printing.

You can have inserts printed as if they were business cards or as if they were postcards. Both formats are affordable – like $20 (including shipping) for 500 business cards. Or $30 for 500 postcards.

Want to stand out a little more? Use a format that might get used again. Like a bookmark. Nice quality bookmarks might cost a little more to make (or take a little more time to make) but if they’re nice, they’re likely to get saved and used. That means more “impressions” for your insert. Adding a nice quote to the bookmark, and toning your branding down can help, too.

Another option is a gift tag. You can buy nice custom-made gift tags on Etsy. Or you could make your own. Or you could just punch a hole in the corner of a business card. Voila – your business card has become a gift tag.

Thank you for your order

You can still personalize printed inserts, of course. Consider leaving the salutation empty on the printed versions. Then just write in each customer’s name before you drop the insert into the box. Got even three seconds more time for that insert? Sign your name to the card.

Using more than one package insert

Sometimes it’s nice to vary the package inserts, too. You could even A/B split test your package inserts to see which offers tend to do best. Or you might want to include a specific package insert for large orders, for instance. Or a different package insert for first-time orders.

If you have a standard package insert, and only use an alternative insert once in awhile, consider getting the standard one printed. Then handwrite the one you use less often.

Or print your own inserts at home. There’s plenty of stylish paper that would stand out and can work in a standard printer. Just avoid most handmade papers with home printers… they can really mess up the insides of your printer.

Of course, you could also customize your package inserts with stamps or stickers, too. There’s more than one way to get a message inside a box!

custom-packaging-sutton-place-designs

So now you’ve got ideas for possible formats for your package inserts. So now, what should yours say? You could…

Offer free shipping on their next order.
Free shipping is one of the all-time best offers. It might not feel like the most creative option, but it’s proven to work.

Offer a discount on their next order.
Either percent off or dollars off.

Ask for the customer to leave feedback about their order.
Research has shown that the more reviews a product has, the faster it sells. So getting people to leave feedback can be a great way to increase sales.

Offer a list of special sales items.
Got some inventory you want to move, but don’t have enough of it to offer it to everyone? Make up a couple of flyers and put them in the boxes of people who bought related items. This gives them a special deal and lets you free up some space.

Offer a discount they can share with a friend.
Make it just one friend, and give your existing customer a benefit, too. Like “Know someone who would like [Your Online Shop]? Here’s a coupon for them to get 20% off their first order. When they use it, we’ll send you a coupon for 10% off your next order, too.”

Offer samples.
We’ve written about product samples in the past. These are technically package inserts, so you might want to consider adding a few samples, too.

Or just give them an interesting little gift. This Etsy store has a printed business card to use as a thank you note. On its own, it’s nice… but not noteworthy. But when they add the cute little customized paperclip with a rose? Then they’ve given the customer a gift.

customized-paperclip

Gifts like this are even better if they’re associated with your business. If this seller created faux fabric flowers, then this little paper clip gift would have added meaning.

Ask them to share about their purchase on social media.
This type of user-generated content is great for business. If you ask nicely, you can use these social shares in your marketing, too.

For instance, you can re-share any posts from customers. Or you can add a little “as seen on social media” section to your website or your email updates.

At Sticker Mule, we include an insert in every purchase that is signed by the staff member that worked on the order. On the other side we ask if they'll share a photo or video on Instagram and mention @stickermule. We see hundreds of photos and videos every week and often repost them on our Instagram feed.

Sticker Mule Cheers Insert Card

Go big league: Try a package insert program (or create your own)

Catalog companies have been using package inserts for decades. They’re one of the oldest and most effective marketing tactics around. That’s why these retailers use their own package inserts… but also why there are package insert swap programs, too.

Yep – you can pay to have your package insert put into another company’s packages. Usually this sort of swap only happens with big companies, so the swaps are bought by the thousands.

But you could possibly set up a smaller swap, too.

You’d need to find a company that is complementary to yours, but not a competitor. They could be larger or smaller than you. If you were on a tight marketing budget, you could just swap inserts if the company ships about as many packages as you.

Or if you had a little budget, you could pay about $20 to $30 per thousand to get your packages inserted into another company’s boxes.

If you can work out a deal with even a couple of complementary companies, your package insert program could become a reliable way to find new customers, too.

One thing to remember as you test this new marketing channel: Track how often the customers you get through package inserts re-order. In other words, track what the lifetime value of your customers is, based on the different marketing channels you get them through.

Who knows… maybe your package insert customers tend to order six times each, making their lifetime value well over $200. If they re-order that much, you might be able to afford $37.14 to get them in the first place.

Also track each package insert partner separately. Some sellers may end up being better partners for you than others.

Conclusion

Package inserts are an easy way to increase loyalty and attract new customers. They work even for small online crafters and shops because they’re so affordable. All you need is a few seconds and a pen and paper.

Back to you

Are you including a package insert or a thank you note with your orders? If you are, what does it say? Is there a particular offer that seems to work best?

Leave a comment and let us know. Or even better – take a photo of your package insert. Show us what it looks like on our Facebook page.

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