by Katie "Bah! Humbug!" Paine
As I deleted my 100th electronic Christmas card, all I felt was annoyance -- rather than merry or joyous or whatever it was supposed to make me feel. A good 50% of these mostly cold and soulless emails were from PR firms I’d never heard of. I assume they got my name from Klout or Cision or Vocus or any of the other list peddlers that bring as much joy and relevance to the season as Jacob Marley did. Which got me thinking...
Does anyone measure the effectiveness of these silly things?
The ROI of the Corporate Holiday Card: Making Your Season Blight
I posed the question on Twitter and the answer was a definitive "no." Xmas emails are perceived as a cheap way for companies to “touch” people on their mailing list. I did discover that the ROI calculation for them is inherently flawed: Because most of these cards are created in-house, the time spent to create them is viewed as basically free, (probably because the employee(s) have nothing better to do in the month before the holidays).
A more accurate ROI calculation is probably something like this:
20 hours of designer time @ $50 per hour = $1000
5 hours of editing, proofing and copy review @$50 per hour = $250
Cost to email to 5000 names @ $0.03 per name = $150
Total Investment: $1400
Assuming a 6% click-thru rate, that's 300 clicks, for a cost-per-click-thru of $4.60. Which isn’t too bad.
But what is the value of a click-thru? Since there is no call to action, and god knows it would be in terrible taste to say, “Merry Christmas, now click here to set up a demo!” it is difficult to calculate any real return. So the ROI is essentially $0 at best, but probably somewhere between -$1400 and the value of your reputation.
Now let's look at a more personalized approach.
KDPaine & Partners' Holiday Cards
For years, my company KDPaine & Partners has sent out a holiday card featuring an image of our offices. I actually have almost all of them framed in my hallway. Bill Paarlberg -- yes, the Bill Paarlberg, the editor of The Measurement Standard -- does the artwork, and we write a bit of copy that relates to both the card itself and the year we’ve had. In prior years we would also include a piece of locally-made pottery and a recipe for something that could go into the pottery. One year it was chowder for a chowder mug, the next year it was salsa in a taco dish.
Now, I don't expect the whole world to love our holiday cards. And, yes, there's a bit of self promotion in the concept. But the point here is that these cards have some thought and personality in them, and they express feelings in a unique, creative, and heartfelt fashion.
Over the years, we probably spent $35,000 on the cards and pottery. Invariably, after they go out, I hear directly back from clients and prospects who say, “Thanks for the card, and I was meaning to get in touch...” And, return-wise, I know they've yielded at least $200,000 in new business.
ROI = 471%
Value of a better relationship with customers: Priceless
This year, I was contemplating the absence of calendars in my mailbox, and asked Twitter and Facebook where they’d all gone. The general response was that, with electronic calendars being ubiquitous, companies have decided that they weren’t worth it. Which in my mind leaves a huge gaping blank space just waiting for me to fill it up with my logo and message. Especially when I got this response from Jim Fetig, (one of the planet’s ultimate Measurement Mavens, and someone who has been getting my Christmas cards for at least 13 years):
“How 'bout a KD Paine and Partners' Measurement Calendar? I'd read my daily best practice with gusto.”
Now, I'm not sure I can come up with 365 days of measurement thoughts, but 12 month's worth certainly seems doable. Let's look at the ROI:
Cost of artwork and design: $1000
Cost to print 100 calendars: $1000
Total investment: $2000
Cost of keeping Jim Fetig happy (given that he’s been our client for 14 years) = Priceless.
And so, my big question here is: In an age when the personalized touch is increasingly preferred -- where we shop local, eat local, and invest locally -- why is it that the majority of organizations take a mass-market approach to communicating sentiments that should be the most personal of all?
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements.