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Case Study: US Navy Deploys Direct Mail to Target Women
Date: June, 2013 --
In this Fresh Data Case Study, we’ll detail how the US
Navy selected direct mail as its weapon of choice to target young women and
generate interest in a career amongst their ranks. This case study will further
detail how direct mail initiatives were combined with customized online and
social media programs to effectively target this demographic. Finally we’ll
share some numbers in order to quantify the success of this strategy. This case
study was assembled by Data Services, Inc. in cooperation with our friends at the
When young women in American secondary schools approach
their last year, they begin to wrestle with next steps. Not many consider a
career in the military forces, let alone the U.S. Navy. There are numerous
misperceptions of Navy service and life. “It’s a man’s job.” Or, “they only
have nursing and admin assistant jobs”. That was the challenge faced by a
marketing team whose resources were greatly reduced due to decreased military
The objectives were to
transform those perceptions of the Navy among women in the target age group and
to generate leads for recruiters. One of the challenges in this was the
understanding that the target audience, young women completing high school or
recently graduated, consume a wide variety of media when seeking information.
The Navy had to make some
“unexplored waters” kind of media choices. After preliminary research, the plan
focused on two different direct mail creative efforts, two different email promotions,
more targeted content on the “brand” website, Navy.com/women, and a Facebook
fan page named Women (re)Defined. The
latter is still “sailing” and worth visiting.
The campaign started after
the summer break as high school seniors began preparations for the SAT exams
(Standardized Test for College Admission). These scores are critical factors in
students’ choices for the future. Colleges, universities, many prospective
employers, and the Navy, take these into account in judging applicants.
The Navy knew what the ideal
candidate “looked like”. They didn’t want every high school senior that
applied, but were really seeking young women who were looking for work that
would challenge them in an important and interesting way. There are plenty of
choices in the Navy, whose work force reflects the American people in gender
and diversity. The desirable candidate would want to make a difference in the
world and she would be seeking a challenging career that will hold her
interest. She must be used to testing her physical capabilities while remaining
comfortable with traditional feminine qualities. She would believe that
stereotypes are meaningless or to be defied. The size of this target population
was estimated at 1 million, about half of the female population of 18 year olds
at the time.
Creative & Strategy:
The creative concept
underlying all work was set: Strong and active women with the desire to make a
better world and to work in an exciting and challenging environment will find
many opportunities to do just that in the Navy.
The campaign had a budget
“between $500,000 and $1,000,000” and was constructed to provide prospects a
number of different channels through which they could learn more, and perhaps
experience the Navy a bit. Certainly the Navy does not lack for images to bring
to life those themes of contribution, excitement and challenge!
Direct mail featured female
sailors as leaders, focusing on the Navy as a place of opportunity for women
who seek meaningful careers. The two versions also tested how recipients
reacted to social media referrals within the pieces, providing insight into
more targeted use. In addition, there were conventional response mechanisms, an
800 number, and a BRC for more literature. A QR code led to a landing page
featuring videos of female sailors.
Social media (as noted)
included Facebook which tied into the Navy.com/women website.
Email was used as a follow-up to the direct
mail and reinforced the earlier messages. Two different versions were used, a
short and a long form, to measure how and whether readers sought more
information from the resources promoted.
The website Navy.com/women
was updated and broadened to show women in training, underscore benefits,
present real women at work, and provide live chat and lead capture tools to
Leads enabled recruiters to
fulfill 100% of their FY 11 goal and gave them a strong start to meeting the
FY12 goal. The direct mail piece engaged readers directly and engaged across
all channels where the integrated content through those channels delivered
prospects extremely effectively.
This is really a lesson in
the power of direct mail to engage the recipient and empower, in this case, her
to react/respond by providing multiple response channels. The letter was the
first point of contact. Interestingly, 49% of the leads responded with the
time-honored BRC, while only15% answered through the website. Perhaps it was
its novelty for this younger audience!
And critical to the success was the cohesiveness of the message across
all media - meaningful and satisfying careers are available in the Navy
Immediately following the
mailing the Women (re)Defined Facebook
page received 509 likes and page views increased 11%. Traffic and likes have
continued from there and in early 2012 there were over 24,000 likes, an 82%
increase from FY2010.
Last, but not least, Cross
Media Recruitment-the U.S. Navy received a medal of its own when it was awarded
a DMA 2012 Echo Silver award.
No doubt part of the victory
was due to some good address hygiene. So make sure Data Services gets your
data, and addresses, ship-shape, before your next campaign sails.