Free gifts can increase the size and weight of the letters that you send as direct mail to both existing customers and potential customers. Though they're free for the recipient, they cost money to manufacture and may increase the price that you pay for postage. So, what are the benefits?
Marketing materials such as leaflets may catch someone's attention if they're relevant, but people can never resist the temptation to open something that seems more bulky. Free gifts don't have to be expensive - pens and keyrings are great choices - but they can improve direct mail open rates.
We all love getting gifts in the mail. Recipients know a marketing tactic when they see one, and they're under no illusion that they're the only person that's received a gift from your business or organisation, yet receiving a gift in the mail can still be a positive emotional experience. Gifts, however small, make people feel valued. When we receive free gifts, even if they're generic marketing products, our innate response is to react as though someone's sent something just for us.
If you send a branded gift, it may be used in public or passed around between people. A pen might find its way into an office, whilst a branded air freshener will be on display in a car. Branded gifts get your business noticed by more people than just the recipient, and will keep your brand in the mind of the user every time the gift catches their eye.
In many industries, free gifts are used to encourage brand loyalty. People that receive free gifts can feel like they owe something back, and may return the favour by using a specific brand's product or service. Likewise, brand loyalty can be encouraged by those aforementioned positive emotions.
If a company has sent you a gift that has made you feel happy then you're more likely to think of that company in terms of positive traits. As a result, you'll be more likely to choose that company over any competitors that you don't see in a particularly positive light.
Baby product companies in particular use this form of marketing, as new parents don't yet have brand experience and can easily be swayed by a free gift such as a book, a stuffed toy or an item of clothing for their baby. Yet, direct mail with a free gift can benefit all types of businesses and charities.