A survey question asking readers to opine as to whether a gift offer would motivate them to subscribe troubled me. That’s no way to determine direct marketing strategy. So, I emailed them. Yeah, like they care what I think.
I sent the email to the link they provide for “feedback or concerns.” It bounced back as “undeliverable.”
Not that my effort in writing it was wasted. My unasked-for advice might be useful to others doing market research, so I have pasted it below. If you know anyone at Scientific American whom you think might be interested, please send him or her a link to this post.
My would-be advice to Scientific American
May I make an observation about your survey questions regarding gift offers?
Any direct response pro — which I happen to be — will tell you never to ask such a thing in a survey. People don't know and cannot accurately predict what will motivate them to purchase. The valid way to find out if a gift offer works is to test it in the real world and count the replies.
That said, I can already tell you the answer, because our industry has been testing gift offers nonstop for over 100 years. The answer is an unqualified YES. Gift offers always increase sales.
Perhaps I should qualify that. The right gift offers always increase sales. Which is the right one? Again, don't ask your subscribers. Test various gifts and see which one emerges as the winner. Then, take that winner and "roll it out" to the rest of your market. Based on my experience, I'm betting that offering an item like a calculator, Starbucks gift card or duffle bag will outperform offering literature. But I've been wrong. Which is why I always test.
In short, I recommend a more scientific approach. Which would seem to make sense, given who you are.
I love the publication. Please keep up the great work.