Where Do You Start? Teaching Direct Marketing to College Students

What’s the best approach to engage college kids in understanding direct marketing? Principles first; metrics second? Or Metrics first; principles second?

What’s the best approach to engage college kids in understanding direct marketing? Principles first; metrics second? Or Metrics first; principles second?

I remember sitting in the parlor of a Catholic parish rectory in North Jersey while my wife was participating in a wedding rehearsal. The Mets game was on TV. The brother of a parish priest who was visiting from Ireland asked me to explain baseball. Explain baseball?!?! Where do you start?

Despite all of the professional speaking and training I’ve done in direct response marketing, the first time I taught a college course devoted entirely to it was last spring. I started with the fundamental concepts of media, offer, and creative. I had them write about each of these concepts from their own experience. We went over the various targeting opportunities marketers have online and offline. And at the end, we covered measurement and metrics.

At the end of the course, I asked the students to tell me what worked, what didn’t, and what should be changed. The most insightful comment was from a student who said:

“I wish you had covered all that measurement content at the beginning of the course. It made me realize why all that other stuff was important, and how it fit into the big picture.”

HELP!

Now, as I embark on teaching a course dedicated to Direct Response Marketing at Rutgers School of Business Camden, I’m looking for advice about how to sequence things.

Last year, when I bemoaned the lack of an appropriate up-to-date textbook for this discipline in this column, Dave Marold and Harvey  Markowitz stepped up and recommended the Fourth Edition of “Direct, Digital, and Data-Driven Marketing,” by Lisa Spiller. (Thanks for that Dave and Harvey; I’m using that book in the Fall).

What Do You Think?

Now I see the benefit of stressing measurement early. Even though I told the students every class that the coolest thing about direct marketing is that you can measure it, apparently the mechanical reality of measuring something like search engine keywords was not real for them. So:

  • Do I incorporate some form of measurement into every lesson?
  • Do I introduce a comprehensive measurement unit early in the course? (Spiller’s book does that early on, in Chapter 4).
  • Or, do I go full-on “math course” at the beginning, and thin a 40-student class down to 20 students after two weeks? (Just kidding).

Opinions welcome. (Actually, encouraged.)

In Direct Mail, More Is Less: How Oversaturation Kills ROI

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

Yes, we are saying that more mail pieces actually get you less as far as results go with direct mail. Don’t be fooled by the notion that more choices, more text and more offers are better. That does not hold up to reality. It is harder for your prospects and customers to make a choice, understand more text and pick from multiple offers than if you stick with one or two.

With two, they can make a comparison. Once you move past two, you get confusion. Confused people do not buy. Your ROI will reflect your “too many choices” with poor results. Not sure if I am right? Let’s look at some key ways people process your mail pieces.

  • Decision Processing — Good decisions are processed in three steps, on avaerage. The steps are: know the importance of your goals, consider your options to meet them and pick the winning option. Knowing this, you can help them make decisions faster by providing them with the benefits of your product or service to them in your copy. The more options you offer, the harder it is for people to make decisions. When decision-making is hard, people tend to just not do it. Your mail pieces should make it easy for them to decide to buy from you.
  • Intake — As people are looking over your copy, they skim as they read. Many tests have shown that what resonates with them is the last item read; make sure your strongest copy is last, in order to convince them that it is in their best interest to buy from you. The more positive spin you put on the benefits, the better people feel about your product or service and the more eager they are to buy.
  • Past Experience — All decisions we make are based on past experiences, but your prospects and customers can be influenced by other people’s experiences, too. That is why testimonials about your product or service are very important. Your customers and prospects can relate to others’ experiences and want to get that experience for themselves.
  • Familiar — People buy from companies that they are familiar with, so your company branding is important and must be carried through all your marketing channels. They need to be able to recognize you to help them decide to buy from you.

Take the confusion out of your direct mail pieces in order to increase your response rates. Your prospects and customers are inundated with marketing messages all day long in various forms. In order for your mail pieces to resonate, you need to grab attention with your design and then wow them with concise, easy-to-read copy. Focus on how great their life is going to be by using your product or service. Then make it a limited time offer so they respond quicker. Finally, make it easy for them to buy from you.

Stay away from multiple offers per mailer; target the right people with the right offer. You can still have multiple offers in your campaign; just send different offers to different people. When you are not sure what offer will work best, do an A/B test so half of the people get one offer and the other half get the other offer. You can then analyze your results to see which offer worked better. There are enough difficult choices in the world, make buying from you an easy choice and you will see your results increase. In your marketing, you cannot be everything to everyone. You need to be something to someone. Focus on the someones. Are you ready to get started?

5 Ways Direct Mail Can Give You a Marketing Advantage

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

Direct mail has consistently performed well for many years, providing the results marketers need. However, not all direct mail is the same. There are things you can do to gain an advantage over your competitors. Are your results as good as they could be? Let’s check out the segments you can focus on to use direct mail to its full advantage.

  1. Pursue The first way to take full advantage of direct mail is to go after the right people. This will depend on what your offer is, as well as if you are going after prospects or customers. There is a difference in the way you target these two groups. Use your data to segment people into like categories. Sending to the right people makes all the difference and can save you money by not sending pieces to people who are not interested.
  2. Clarity — Next, you need to make sure that your messaging and offer are very clear. If not, you are going to miss out on the people who misunderstood what you were trying to say. Keep your wording simple and stay away from acronyms; in the texting age, your acronym could mean something very different.
  3. Succinct — Your copy needs to get right to the point. Make it easy and fast to read. You can use bullets, bolding and other text highlights to get your most important information to stand out. The less reading required, the more people will scan your piece.
  4. Interest — Does your mail piece generate interest? Your images and messaging need to call people to your piece to look closer at what you have to offer. The more interest people have in your mail piece, the more likely they are to buy.
  5. Cohesion — Do your marketing channels work together? Can customers and prospects flow easily from your direct mail piece to your website or other online platform? When they can, you will get better response rates.

When you have all five segments done correctly, you will see an increase in response. Don’t let your competitors win. Use direct mail to your advantage and get ahead of them. You will need to block out time to get your best mail pieces conceptualized and created. Do not rush the process, or you risk your results. As they say, Rome was not built in a day — and neither are your direct mail pieces.

One of the best features about direct mail is that it arrives in the mailbox and is a physical piece. No other marketing channel is physical in this way. In order to draw interest to your mail piece, you can add features to enhance the sensory experience for your customers and prospects. There are many features you can add, such as textures, foil, embossing, debossing, die cuts, special folds and more. Most of these features are not very expensive but can boost your direct mail advantage. You can also add scent for a multi-sensory experience. Get creative and allow your prospects and customers to have fun.

Boring direct mail will not get you the results you want. You need to find ways to enhance your mail pieces to increase prospect and customer engagement. The better you are able to do this using the five segments above, the bigger your direct mail advantage will be. Are you ready to get started?

How to Improve Your Direct Mail

We are in challenging marketing times. Every dollar spent matters, and in direct mail there are a lot of dollars spent. They are worth it when you are getting good results, but many times that is not the case. The problem is not with the direct mail channel, but rather with your mail campaign.

sales emailWe are in challenging marketing times. Every dollar spent matters, and in direct mail there are a lot of dollars spent. They are worth it when you are getting good results, but many times that is not the case. The problem is not with the direct mail channel, but rather with your mail campaign. So what really matters in 2018 to make your direct mail campaigns a success? Let’s take a look.

What matters? These seven elements:

  1. Time — The time you spend to create your mail pieces; audience and message make all the difference. Many times timelines are cut short so steps are rushed through and not carefully thought out. This can cause a bunch of problems that can either cost you more money or responses, either way you lose out. Purposely block out time dedicated to making the best mail campaigns possible.
  2. Myopia — Many times the problem with a mail campaign is the wrong focus. Your messaging list and design all need to work together to drive response. When your team cannot see the forest through the trees they are creating messaging that is not going to appeal to your audience. This will cost you responses. Focus on the benefits to your audience, this means you need to know them well, not just assume that you do.
  3. Innovation — Today’s direct mail needs to stand out. What worked yesterday will not work tomorrow. Have you tried to innovate your mail pieces to stand out? There are many tools you can use from technology to folds or special coatings. You want to integrate with your messaging, so you need to carefully consider what will enhance your message and drive response.
  4. Inspiration — Many times inspiration is lacking in mail campaigns. From lackluster design to poorly worded copy. You cannot inspire response without a great mail piece. Sending the mail piece to all the right contacts does not matter if your message does not resonate and your design does not generate interest. Your piece just became trash. Consider testing your design and copy with a couple of key customers who are willing to give you feedback. What they say may surprise you.
  5. Adaptability — As your customers change you change your products and services, but are you changing your mail campaigns? You need to adapt to what your prospects and customers want and need. Very targeted messaging can help you generate a better response rate. Beyond messaging though, you need to adapt your design, too. Change is a good thing and can lead to more responses.
  6. Brand — Many times a mail piece does not perform well because of a conflict between your messaging and your brand. Who your company is and what it stands for needs to mesh with your design and messaging on your direct mail pieces. When there is a conflict in the mind of your prospect or customer, they are not going to buy from you.
  7. Degeneration — Overtime a direct mail campaign can degenerate if it’s continually done the same way. Constant vigilance to changes in your audience, your product and the culture in general need to drive changes in your direct mail. The world is changing at a faster and faster pace, you need to change, too. Declining response is a big indicator that your campaign is degenerating. Start your process all over again to refresh creative design, copy and your list segmentation.

Your direct mail results can and should be better. Each of these seven elements can directly affect your results. Take a good look at what you have been doing along with your team to see if there are changes you can make to improve your results. Sometimes the smallest change can make all the difference in how your audience perceives your offer. Remember to track your results as you make changes to see what is working and where you can improve. In 2018, you can have the best direct mail results you have ever had if you make a real effort to do so. Are you ready to get started?

4 Ways to Triple Your Digital Marketing Results

Digital marketing is direct marketing. If you follow these four principles, you’ll triple your digital communications results — and it doesn’t cost you a penny more.

What metrics do you use to define digital marketing success today? Clicks? Traffic? Followers? Leads? Sales? ROI? Notice what these metrics have in common. They all require some action on the part of the target, whether it’s a prospect or a customer. And how do you motivate an action? You use direct response communications. It’s as simple as that. Digital marketing is direct marketing. So why are we still seeing suboptimal digital communications in display, email, SEM, wherever. It’s a tragedy. If you follow these four principles, you’ll triple your digital communications results — and it doesn’t cost you a penny more.

Direct response communications are structured specifically to motivate an immediate response, which is why they are perfect for digital marketing communications. The structure relies on four elements.

1. Add an Offer

The offer is the key motivator that overcome inertia and stimulates response. A strong offer can improve response rates by 300 percent. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with discounts or deals. In fact, in B2B, the most powerful offer is authoritative, educational information, packaged up in a report, a case study, a chart, a video — something that answers a question or solves a business problem. Make the offer the center of your messaging. Explain why they can’t live without it.

2. Make a Strong Call to Action

The CTA is, in sales terminology, the “close,” where a rep asks for the order. “Click here.” “Download now.” Make it prominent, and make it persuasive. No more bland “More information” buttons. Here’s a handy checklist of 75 CTA options to inspire you.

3. Prepare a Dedicated Landing Page

This is where the real close takes place. Use the landing page to resell the offer, and capture the prospect’s information. Design the form to be filled out easily, asking for as little data as possible. If you already know some of the target’s data elements, as is likely with email communications, then prepopulate the webform. Whatever you do, don’t drive the respondent to your home page.

4. Test and Improve

Continuous split testing is so easy in digital channels, you have no excuse not to take advantage. Test your audience segments, your offers, headlines, calls to action, design — everything. And keep testing, for continuous improvement. As Jan Brandt, the digital marketing pioneer who launched AOL practically single handedly, used to say: “Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.”

After these four, there are plenty of other effective direct response principles you can apply. Improve your audience targeting. Use a friendly, personal tone. Add a sense of urgency. Focus on benefits, over features. I could go on. But you’ll get 90 percent of the way there with the Big Four principles above. Then sit back and watch your digital marketing response rates soar.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

The Christmas Marketing That Worked on Me, and Why

It was the weekend before Christmas, and all through the house, not a wallet had opened, we hadn’t even gone out. … So, some direct marketing shopping was in order, but from who? Here are a couple pieces of marketing that worked on me this holiday season.

It was the weekend before Christmas, and all through the house, not a wallet had opened, we hadn’t even gone out. …

So, some direct marketing shopping was in order, but from who?

Here are a couple pieces of marketing that worked on me this holiday season, and one bit of retargeting that caught the attention of my wife.

ThinkGeek

It probably won’t surprise you that I have some geeks in my life. So I’m on the ThinkGeek email list (along with at least one other TM editor, spot their Schrodinger’s Cat mug).

I wasn’t planning on ordering anything from ThinkGeek this year, but I had some unfilled gift boxes, and this email came.

"Snuggle up with 30% off your order and ThinkGeek's coziest threds"? Don't mind if I do!
“Snuggle up with 30% off your order and ThinkGeek’s coziest threds”? Don’t mind if I do.

Why it worked: There’s a Harry Potter fan on my list, and that person happens to have been looking for a comforter. So X-mas marked the spot in the top-right corner with the Harry Potter House Comforter. In addition, the percent-off offers across the top are aggressive and hooked me in. In fact, I added a second gift for the same person just to get to the next discount level.

A Christmas Faux Pas: ThinkGeek did a good job with everything here, and got my gift in the mail the day after I ordered it (a Sunday, no less). However, they also made a little bit of a rookie mistake: The day after I ordered it, I got an email with the quilt on sale for about 20 percent less.

I’m not too upset over it, since it’s Christmas and the buying experience has been very good so far. But there was a moment there where I felt like a rube. I’m not sure what the best way is to make sure you don’t mail new deals to recent buyers, but as the buyer here, I feel like that’s a good way to undermine your good first impression.

Fairytale Brownies

I don’t only know geeks. I also know some ramblers. I’ve got family in a few states across the U.S. who we send gifts to.

An Overlooked, Timeless and Profitable DM Strategy

An often overlooked strategy to create significant profitability is a well-planned and executed friend-get-a-friend campaign. When I was the marketing manager for the Sesame Street Book Club in the 1980s, it was the most profitable initiative we did. The dilemma is that you have to have a good base of customers before …

An often overlooked strategy to create significant profitability is a well-planned and executed friend-get-a-friend campaign. When I was the marketing manager for the Sesame Street Book Club in the 1980s, it was the most profitable initiative we did. The dilemma is that you have to have a good base of customers before you can create a friend-get-a-friend program.

The direct marketing division at Western Publishing was a small piece of a $300 million corporate company driven by retail book sales of Little Golden Books. I’ll always remember sitting in a meeting with the CEO, who admitted he didn’t know a lot about direct marketing, studying the profit numbers and exclaiming “let’s do more friend-get-a-friend!”

It’s just that you have to have customers before you can get their friends to become customers.

Back in the 80s, we mailed millions of Baby Boomer households with children an offer of the Book Club. We also used magazine ads, inserts, and other media to acquire new customers. Those efforts were often at an initial loss, but profit was made up by persistency (or retention) of buyers over time.

But it was the lowly ride-a-long insert inside the monthly product shipment that brought in the most profitable new book club members.

Today, with the cost of direct mail, many marketers are looking at less expensive (but not always more effective) channels. Any of us in this business for any period of time knows that it’s ultimately the cost of the newly acquired customer, and the customer’s long-term value, that determine where you should invest money to acquire new customers.

So if you’re an established marketer, there are some specific ways to grow your business with your customers as your sellers. By the way, if you’re a start-up, I’ll offer a different set of suggestions in a future column.

  1. Your offer is very important. Sure, you can put a flyer in your outgoing product shipment suggesting that your customer pass it along to a friend. But you might have to do more. Back when I managed the Sesame Street Book Club, we assumed a significant reason a parent would give our flyer to a friend was because they wanted a friend to buy their own subscription instead of lending their child’s book. Might you be in a situation where your customers don’t want to physically share your product?
  1. “Pay” your customer with your product, or credits toward purchase when they refer friends to you. But don’t make this complicated.
  1. In today’s digital environment, since you surely have email addresses of your customers, you can cost-efficiently reach them with email to ask for a referral, but make sure you’re clear about what’s in it for your customer to refer their friends.
  1. Social media is another massive opportunity for friend-get-a-friend. Assuming you have a Facebook page, pay to sponsor posts to “friends of friends who have liked your page.” This is where you need to create a great intro in the social media post, and a strong landing page on your website to close sales.
  1. Encourage reviews, and importantly, allow your customers to share their reviews on social media. Yes, this feels like a mine field. If you get a bad review, your customer easily spreads the word. Monitor all comments and let this your opportunity to make good on the problem, and turnaround a poor review from someone who could become a rabid fan.

Before you launch into a friend-get-a-friend strategy, you need to understand what your customers already like about you. Ask them what it would take for them to refer their friends to you. Then build your program (or modify an existing one) around what will excite your customers enough to send highly profitable business your way.

(My new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” is available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” )

3 Reasons GIFs Have a Place in Your Marketing

We’ve all seen the GIFs of yesteryear: Flashing letters. Hokey cartoons. The dancing baby. Today, these are distractions and lack a certain classiness. Kind of like using WordArt. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use an animated GIF, it just means you need to use them in a more sophisticated way and with an appropriate animation.

Okay, before we start, is it tomato or tomahto? Potato or potahto. Is it GIF or JIF? The creator of the format called Graphics Interchange Format, Steve Wilhite, says “jif” like the peanut butter. I’ve always said GIF with a hard “g.” The battle over how it’s pronounced is documented very well in a NY Times article “Battle Over ‘GIF’ Pronunciation Erupts” … but I’ll still say GIF.

The GIF format created in 1987 was popular due to its wide support across browsers and email clients. And in the early days, the animated GIF was one of the primary ways to add movement to a Web page.

We’ve all seen them. Flashing letters. Hokey cartoons. The dancing baby. Today, these are distractions and lack a certain classiness. Kind of like using WordArt.

7 Up SpotDrudge Siren Dancing Baby gifEmail me mailbox openUnder construction gifMy advice: Don’t do this today. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use an animated GIF, it just means you need to use them in a more sophisticated way and with an appropriate animation. An animation that will enhance your message, not distract from it. Here are three reasons to consider the use of an animated GIF in your marketing messages:

1. Instructions/Training

Macaw demonstration gifIn this example, software company Macaw uses this GIF to demonstrate one of the features in its software. This is an excellent way to show a feature without forcing someone to watch a video or have to scroll through three to four static pictures. It quickly shows functionality.

You can use this type of animated GIF in an e-newsletter, too. Imagine showing a feature for a new version of software as Sprout Social has done below. It’s a case where the animation enhances the message.

Sprout Social gif2. Subtle Sense of Reality

Headscape homepage gifHeadscape, a digital media company in the UK, has a very subtle animation on its home page featuring an office scene (I highly suggest checking the site out via the link, since the image above is static and not animated … we weren’t able to capture the GIF). Notice the subtle movements of the pen and the person sipping coffee. I find these wonderful surprises.

Taking this one step further, you can create a cinemagraph, an animated GIF usually made from high-end photographs. The next two examples show how you can enhance a photo with either dramatic movement in the case of the Tokyo GIF or the more subtle Taxi Reflection. In both cases the animation enhances the viewing experience in an elegant way.

Tokyo cinemagraph
Cinemagraph courtesy of reddit user eatrob
Taxi cab window cinemagraph
Cinemagraph courtesy of Ann Street Studio. This studio produces wonderfully subtle cinemagraphs.

3. Enhance an Offer

You can use animated GIFs in fun ways to enhance an offer. The GIF can physically highlight the offer or simply bring attention to it.

8 Simple-Yet-Brilliant Copy and Creative Tips That Make a Huge Difference

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook.

Hey hey hey, happy March, people of the marketing sphere! The month has been great for me so far. Among other things (cut my Comcast bill in half, SCORE!) just last week I got to spend my day at the annual Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference. Did you get to check it out? It was live on March 10, but is available on demand in its entirety starting today, so I’d highly recommend heading over there if you couldn’t make it!

Target Marketing snagged some seriously top-notch speakers (VP of Marketing at Cirque du Soleil, for one, daaang) to share their expertise on a whole slew of helpful and fascinating topics like marketing-first companies, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and of course — copy and design.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Copywriter/Copy Coach Pat Friesen speak on several copy-centered webinars in the last few years, so I knew I needed to make time for her session: Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook. Pat, along with President and Chief Creative Officer of DM Creative Group Patrick Fultz, went through some of their tried-and-true design and copy tips to boost conversion and sales.

All the content presented at the show was fantastic, but since this is a copy/creative blog I thought I’d just speed through some of the key takeaways from Pat2‘s copy/creative session. (Hope they won’t mind I just deemed them Pat2.)

  • Specificity makes a difference! “Save $478.88 each year” has much more credibility and impact than “save money” or even “save hundreds of dollars.”
  • Numerals appear more impressive at a glance than numbers spelled out. Tip: Include decimals in money amounts for an extra kick:Ten thousand” vs. “$10,000” vs. “$10,000.00.”
  • Reverse type considerations! This requires the visual they gave, check it out:

reversetype

  • When it comes to photo captions, “features describe, benefits sell.” “Sewn stars and stripes” doesn’t mean as much to a reader as “Sewn stars and stripes look classic and add durability”.
  • Better CTAs stress immediate satisfaction (“Get it now,” “Download now,” “See it in action”) and are clear about what the action is (“Sign up” vs. “Submit”).
  • A/B test your CTAs! Don’t underestimate the difference every element can make, from button copy to text color to button color and shape.
  • Use an email pre-header. When viewing an email with no pre-header in the preview pane, a reader will see something like “To view this email in a browser …” etc. Instead, include a pre-header that briefly elaborates on the subject line or gives a hint what the email is about! They’ll be much more inclined to open and read.
  • Place offer above the fold. A great offer, like “Receive a free _______ for signing up,” should be in the upper half of your email; shrink or eliminate graphics if necessary to pull the offer up.

This is just a quick n’ dirty rundown of what was a fantastic session, I actually had to limit myself to eight so I wouldn’t just post the entire session transcript. Definitely carve out 40 minutes, register and check it out. Once you sign up, you’ll instantly have access to the rest of the show’s sessions and content on demand too, from now until June. It’s all can’t-miss material.

I will see all your shining faces back here in April. À Bientôt!

Direct Mail: Why A/B Test?

This is a very common question our clients ask, especially the smaller ones. They need to know if they should be A/B testing. The easy answer is “yes.”

This is a very common question that our clients ask, especially the smaller ones. They need to know if an A/B test is something they should do. The easy answer is “yes,” because it allows you to try out different offers to see which ones work best.

Stressed, anxious person biting finger nails.If you don’t know what is working, how can you increase your ROI? Not to mention that, when you are using only one offer, what if it’s a bad one? What money are you leaving on the table by not A/B testing? Usually, the main reason people don’t want to test is because they think it will be complicated. That really is not the issue. You can create a very simple test and still gather valuable insight to apply to future direct mail projects.

Here are some ways to test your next direct mail campaign:

  • Simple test: In this test, everything about the mail pieces are exactly the same except for one element, which is usually the offer, but really you can test anything you want. You then take your mail list and split it in half, so half your list goes to one version and the other half to the second version. After you get all your responses back, it should be easy to tell which version had a better response. If you don’t have the time to collect your responses, talk to your mail provider, they can help you.
  • Control Group test: In this test, you will use a piece that you have mailed before and one test piece. You can use entirely different pieces. Decide what it is you want to test — usually design, color and images are tested in a control setting. You will split your list in half and see which one gets the better response. This works great if you are considering a new format and want to see how well it is received.
  • Complex test: In this test, you will be testing at multiple levels. This takes a lot of planning and strategy. You can test so many things — such as breaking your list of people up into like groups based on purchase history or demographics, and then creating multiple versions for each group to see what works best with each one. You can also test types of response methods from mobile texts, phone numbers, URL’s, QR Codes, reply cards and more.

One of the great results with testing is what you learn each time. It is extremely important to add this information to your database so you have it available for future testing. The more you know about your prospects and customers, the better your direct mail offers will be. Basically, A/B testing is a waste of time if you are not tracking your results. So let’s look at ways to do that.

Here are some ways to track direct mail results:

  • Unique phone number: Create a special phone number for each campaign.
  • Unique URL: Create a special landing page URL for each campaign.
  • Unique coupon code: Create a special code for people to use at purchase for each campaign.
  • Unique short code: Create a special texting short code for each campaign.

Now that you have tracking information, you can analyze it to create reports. You want to know which version had the best response, the most spend, who responded to what, and so on. The most important thing to know is what your ROI was on each version. Some things we do cost more money than others, so knowing if spending more gets you more money is vital otherwise you could just be wasting your money.

Have you tried testing? What has worked best for you?