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The use of insert activity in direct marketing is often underestimated compared to direct mail or email; this is primarily due to the limited targeting that is available within the medium. However with the impending GDPR and additional regulations outlined in PECR, this in fact becomes its strength. In this era, insert marketing can be perceived as a more ambient form of communication which requires a considered and positive interaction from the recipient. Coupled with this is the additional scope for generating brand awareness and integrating/complimenting above the line communications.

Inserts can and should form a part of any direct marketer’s arsenal.


1.     Integrate with other media channels wherever possible and present a consistent story. Inserts generate awareness and will support the performance of other communication channels

2.     Create a balance of both mainstream press publications (low cost, high distribution) and niche specialised publications (high cost low distribution) to optimise performance and overall campaign cost

3.     Use learning from other sources - i.e. if customer base profiling shows a particular specialist interest make sure that is catered to - can a creative variant be run to fit in line with the publication?

4.     Evaluate performance on all variants where available: where a publication has Newsstand and Subscription copies ensure coding is separate for both. Newsstand should have a cheaper CPT but Subscription will have higher deliverability and less wastage. Look at regional targeting – for mainstream press and in store magazines regional selections are often available – this again can be coded to track and refine publication performance.

5.     Consider what is currently going on the news or wider coverage – response to campaigns can be heavily influenced by the stance and content of their carrier publications. Can content be taken advantage of to reinforce the insert messaging?

6.     Make sure that creative specification, both format and weight, is taken into consideration when placing options, different publication will have different rules regarding “carried spec” and cost per gram over certain weight limit

7.     Print contingency to take advantage of short terms insert offers and respond to changes in press or wider media coverage


1.     Be put off by a lower response rate when compared to other communication types, inserts are less targeted than some other communication types but can also create uplift in performance across the overall campaign

2.     Take new customer % at face value, new customer % may be lower than other direct marketing communication types but lapsed customers may be reactivated that otherwise haven’t responded to warm communications

3.     Be afraid to test pack specifications to maximise performance, does a leaflet format convey the required information or will a heavier pack which includes a Business Reply Envelope promote higher response, all specifications will have pros & cons but this needs to be validated