Testing Your Direct Mail Piece for A Successful Response

Testing Your Direct Mail Piece for A Successful Response

In this digital age of big data and affordable technologies available to analyze all that data, everyone is talking about testing, testing, testing. Gone are the days when a Creative Director yielded the power of just knowing what consumers want and executing that vision.  Though as a designer I long for those days of gut feelings and creative inspiration from years of experience, it would be a crime not to take advantage of all the testing and analytical abilities available today.


Testing should be done on each and every marketing piece you send out.  Test your list, test your creative, test your offer, and even test your call to action.  However, you can do all the testing in the world but if it doesn’t show you how to improve your marketing performance what good is it.  Actually testing and then analyzing the data is the best way to improve your return on investment (ROI).  Below are just a few ways to get you started on the testing and analytics circle of success.


Test your List

Your list is a great place to begin testing, though when most people talk about testing they are looking at mailings of 100,000 or more. If you are only mailing out 5,000-10,000 pieces it may seem a little overwhelming to try to scale down the process. However it is very possible to test smaller lists and if done correctly it can prove to be the most valuable way of testing.


One of the simplest ways to test a smaller list is to start off with two rented lists that use your current customer demographics and attributes to compile the lists.  Each list should have a different source code in order to distinguish which list your respondents are coming from when they respond to your offer. Use this process to show which list responded well enough to use again as the control. You can vary this by using your current customer list as a control list and mailing to that list along with a rented list of similar demographics and attributes.


Test Different Offers

Larger organizations would test multiple things at a time, however for smaller mailings it makes more economical sense to test one thing at a time.  With that in mind, once you have a producing list to work with, begin doing A/B tests on your offer.  Come up with two offers.  You can use the article Special Offer to get you started on offer variation. Once you have two that you believe would be of value for your customers send it out to your mailing list.  Start off with the basic offers first and then try more creative offers after you have some solid data of responses.  Once you have a good offer that is giving you a consistent response rate, move on to testing your mail piece type.


Test Different Types of Mailings

Understand first that all mailing types don’t work for all industries.  A snap pack or business letter may work great for insurance companies and banks but would not be the best option for a local pizza shop or a retail store.  While keeping everything else the same, test several mailing types and measure which works better.  If you normally mail out a 4 x 6 postcard try an oversized 6 x 11 postcard or a bi-fold brochure.  Maybe a letter in a envelope will get through the gatekeeper.


Test Different Creatives

This is where testing really gets fun for me because I am a designer at heart and it’s the visual part of the project.  Don’t get bogged down on the creative because the most important part of the direct mail process is the offer and the list.  If you’re not sending to the right people with the right offer it doesn’t matter how good your creative is; people aren’t going to respond.  When I talk about creative, I am including both copy and design under this umbrella.  Again, test one thing at a time and do A/B testing.  You can test headlines, benefit copy, layout and color but a good starting point is always an easy to scan, clean, crisp design that will stand out against other mail in the mailbox.


The approach above will allow you to systematically produce a stronger and stronger control piece over time.  You should not only keep detailed reports on how you fine-tuned your list, mail type, offer and creative but also keep track of the number of pieces, the overall responses, how they responded, what was the response percentage, what income these responses generated, as well as cost per response, and the lifetime value of the respondent among other things.


Need help testing and analyzing your direct mail piece? Give us a call at 561-393-4722 and one of our friendly direct mail experts will be happy to help.

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