The true measure of success of any direct mail campaign is its response rate, but how do you know that what you’re doing couldn’t be improved? Not only is a mailing an effective broadcast method to your database, but it has an inbuilt feedback system that allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of its communication. The strength of direct mail lies in the ability to make slight or even large changes to your mailer at a whim, or as part of a greater strategy to discover what works best.
We will cover four different ways to assess the capabilities of your campaigns and hence increase your Return on Investment.
1. A/B Testing
You would’ve heard these words used often, but what’s the A to Z on A/B? With two sample sets and a different approach for each—either the headline, the offer, the artwork, or combination of all three—you can analyse which is the best way to talk to your audience. You work on the assumption that small changes can have an overall effect on the campaign, and thus, alter the outcome of its results. For example, in a recent mailer, the response rate increased four times just by printing the offer on the envelope.
A/B testing is perfect if you’re planning on sustaining your campaign, or if you are experimenting with different approaches to refining your engagement with your customers in order to deduce how best to relate to them. With a reputable response method in place, you will soon learn what your audience responds to best, and garner a greater understanding of them, and thereby offer them an appropriate product at the best time.
A/B isn’t about superficial or contextual changes, it can also be a significant change in the message, meaning two differing approaches for various sections of your database. One such example is by changing the focus of your campaign —either technical or lifestyle — to see which resonates the most with your demographic. A technical-focused campaign relies on the solid facts to close the sale. You might take this line if your product’s strongest selling point is its technological advancement in the marketplace. Whereas, a lifestyle-focused campaign is likely to stir an emotional benefit lead response from your audience — reserve these for when your buyer might react on impulse rather than making a considered purchase.
One example is a recent campaign. The database was split and we tried both a technical and lifestyle approach, as our client was uncertain, which would pull more responses. We found that the technical approach outstripped lifestyle two to one. Customers were impressed by what the technical and engineered improvements to their machine as well as, its price point, and benefits. While the lifestyle focus showed how it was going to make life easier. In this instance it was the solid engineering that customers were more responsive to.
3. 90/10 Splits
While most of us think of A/B testing as an even 50/50 split of the database, 90/10. 80/20 or 70/30 testing are lower risk ways of testing a new idea or different approach. While the majority of your database will receive the principal communication, a small portion will allow you to experiment with a select group. For example, use it to provide an alternate offer, extend or decrease your deadline, or try out your new corporate branding to gauge their response. It’s a small idea with big potential, so ask your direct marketing professional to advise.
4. Testing Data
You know a lot about your customers or prospects, so it’s worth putting this knowledge to good use. Test your data before implementing it to understand what kind of reach and response you’ll receive well before going to print. Run a small sample against previous sales records and determine what kind of trends your campaign will follow. Did they purchase at a particular time? What was the period before a repeat sale? How long did they take to jump into action? These are assumptions you can turn into facts, and extend your knowledge of your customers purchase behaviour as well as solidifying your data, making it easier and more detailed for growing your data base through acquisition.
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