Marketers, How Valid Is Your Test? Hint: It’s Not About the Sample Size

The validity of a test is not tied to the size of the sample itself, but rather to the number of responses that you get from that sample. Choose sample sizes based on your expected response rate, not from tradition, your gut or convenience.

A client I worked with years ago kept fastidious records of test results that involved offers, lists, and creative executions. At the outset of our relationship, the client shared the results of these direct mail campaigns and the corresponding decisions that were made based on those results. The usual response rates were in the 0.3 to 0.5% range, and the test sample sizes were always 25,000. If a particular test cell got 130 responses (0.52%), it was deemed to have beaten a test cell that received 110 responses (0.44%). Make sense? Intuitively, yes. Statistically, no.

In fact, those two cells are statistically equal. With a sample size of 25,000 a 0.5% response rate, your results can vary by as much as 14.7% at a 90% confidence level. That means that there was a 90% chance that the results from that test could have been as much 0.55% or as little as 0.43%, making our test cell results of 110 responses (0.44%) and 130 responses (0.52%) statistically equal. I had to gently encourage the client to consider retesting at larger sample sizes.

There are statistical formulas for calculating sample size, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that with 250 responses, you can be 90% confident that your results will vary no more than +10%. This rule of thumb is valid in any medium online or offline. For example, if you test 25,000 emails and you get a 1% response rate, that’s 250 responses. Similarly, if you buy 250,000 impressions for an online ad and you get a 0.1% response rate, you get 250 responses. That means you can be 90% confident that (all things held equal) you will get between 0.9% and 1.1% in the email rollout,  and between 0.009% and 0.01%, with a continuation of the same ad in the same media. (Older editions of Ed Nash’sDirect Marketing — Strategy, Planning, Execution contain charts that you can reference at different sample sizes and response rates).

A smaller number of responses will result in a reduced confidence level or increased variance. For example, with a test size of 10,000 emails and a 1% response rate (100 responses), your variance at a 90% confidence level would be 16%, rather than 10%. That means you can be 90% confident that you’ll get between 0.84% and 1.16% response rate  with all things being held equal. Any response within that range could have been the result of variation within the sample.

Marketers are not alone in using their gut rather than statistics to determine sample sizes. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman confesses in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow“:

“Like many research psychologists, I had routinely chosen samples that were too small and had often obtained results that made no sense … the odd results were actually artifacts of my research method. My mistake, was particularly embarrassing because I taught statistics and knew how to compute the sample size that would reduce the risk to an acceptable level. But I had never chosen a sample size by computation. Like my colleagues, I had trusted tradition and my intuition in planning my experiments and had never thought seriously about the issue.”

The most important takeaway here is that the validity of a test is not tied to the size of the sample itself, but rather to the number of responses that you get from that sample. Choose sample sizes based on your expected response rate, not from tradition, your gut or convenience.

7 Interactive Direct Mail Marketing Ideas

Direct mail marketing can be fun! The more interactive it is, the better your results are going to be. With all the marketing messages people see each day; you need to make your mail stand out. How are you doing that now?

Direct mail marketing can be fun! The more interactive it is, the better your results are going to be. With all the marketing messages people see each day; you need to make your mail stand out. How are you doing that now?

Getting your customers and prospects excited about your mail creation is the key to driving better response rates. There are several ways to do this; the one that is right for you will depend on your goals, your message and your audience.

7 Direct Mail Marketing Ideas to Make Your Mailings Fun and Interactive

  1. Consider 3D Mail: There are so many choices for dimensional mail. These can be expensive for postage as most are considered parcels; however, the response rates for this type of mail are significantly higher. They are well worth the postage costs.
  2. Use Cut-Outs: Create cut outs that, when put together, create fun objects: such as paper airplanes, buildings, dolls and so on. Make sure to send instructions on how to assemble your design. You can also create a special hashtag for social media sharing.
  3. Print a 3D Image: Create 3D art for the recipient to enjoy. This is a fun throwback technology. Make sure to send glasses, too.
  4. Try PopUps: These are fun and surprising for people to interact with. The recipient pulls out the piece and it pops from a flat form into a 3D one. This is usually accomplished through the use of tuck tabs and rubber bands.
  5. What About Scratch-Off or Scratch-and-Sniff? This can really be a fun one when doing contests; people like to scratch off and see what is beneath. The fun twist is when you have scratch and sniff, which works really well for floral, food, perfume or anything that smells good. It’s probably not a good idea to have them scratch a bad smell.
  6. Incorporate Augmented Reality: Bring your mailer to life with the technology of Augmented Reality (AR). This is a really great way to showcase how interactive direct mail can be. It is super cool and fun to play with. If you think this is too expensive, you are wrong. Check out Layar or HP Reveal.
  7. Think About Video: You can add video to your mailers! These have actual screens embedded into the mailers. They can launch content when the mailer is opened or when a button is pushed. These are on the more expensive side, but if you are selling a high-end item and want to really showcase it, this can be a great choice!

These ideas can spice up your mail campaigns and get your customers excited to see your mail pieces. Get creative and have fun, but remember that there are many postal regulations. So before you create your desired format, check with a mail service provider. You will want to avoid paying extra postage. What interactive and fun mail pieces have you seen or created?

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?

Marketing Success Metrics: Response or Dollars?

It’s tempting to ask about whether marketing success metrics should be response rates or money. But you don’t need to ask marketers what they want. Basically, they want everything.

It’s tempting to ask about whether marketing success metrics should be response rates or money. But you don’t need to ask marketers what they want. Basically, they want everything.

They want big spenders who also visit frequently, purchasing flagship products repeatedly. For a long time (some say “lifetime”). Without any complaint. Paying full price, without redeeming too many discount offers. And while at it, minimal product returns, too.

Unfortunately, such customers are as rare as a knight in white armor. Because, just to start off, responsiveness to promotions is often inversely related to purchase value. In other words, for many retailers, big spenders do not shop often, and frequent shoppers are often small item buyers, or worse, bargain-seekers. They may just stop coming if you cut off fat discount deals. Such dichotomy is quite common for many types of retailers.

That is why a seasoned consultants and analysts ask what brand leaders “really” want the most in marketing success metrics. If you have a choice, what is more important to you? Expanding the customer base or increasing the customer value? Of course, both are very important goals — and marketing success metrics. But what is the first priority for “you,” for now?

Asking that question upfront is a good defensive tactic for the consultant, because marketers tend to complain about the response rate when the value target is met, and complain about the revenue size when goals for click and response rates are achieved. Like I said earlier, they want “everything, all the time.”

So, what does a conscientious analyst do in a situation like this? Simple. Set up multiple targets and follow multiple marketing success metrics. Never hedge your bet on just one thing. In fact, marketers must follow this tactic as well, because even CMOs must answer to CEOs eventually. If we “know” that such key marketing success metrics are often inversely correlated, why not cover all bases?

Case in point: I’ve seen many not-so-great campaign results where marketers and analysts just targeted the “best of the best” segment — i.e., the white rhinoceros that I described in the beginning — in modeled or rule-based targeting. If you do that, the value may be realized, but the response rate will go down, leading to disappointing overall revenue volume. So what if the average customer value went up by 20%, when only a small group of people responded to the promotion?

A while back, I was involved in a case where “a” targeting model for a luxury car accessory retailer tanked badly. Actually, I shouldn’t even say that the model didn’t work, because it performed exactly the way the user intended. Basically, the reason why the campaign based on that model didn’t work was the account manager at the time followed the client’s instructions too literally.

The luxury car accessory retailer carried various lines of products — from a luxury car cover costing over $1,000 to small accessories priced under $200. The client ordered the account manager to go after the high-value target, saying things like “who cares about those small-timers?” The resultant model worked exactly that way, achieving great dollar-per-transaction value, but failing at generating meaningful responses. During the back-end analysis, we’ve found that the marketer indeed had very different segments within the customer base, and going only after the big spenders should not have been the strategy at all. The brand needed a few more targets and models to generate meaningful results on all fronts.

When you go after any type “look-alikes,” do not just go after the ideal targets in your head. Always look at the customer profile reports to see if you have dual, or multiple universes in your base. A dead giveaway? Look at the disparity among the customer values. If your flagship product is much more expensive than an “average” transaction or customer value in your own database, well, that means most of your customers are NOT going for the most expensive option.

If you just target the biggest spenders, you will be ignoring the majority of small buyers whose profile may be vastly different from the whales. Worse yet, if you target the “average” of those two dichotomous targets, then you will be shooting at phantom targets. Unfortunately, in the world of data and analytics, there is no such thing as an “average customer,” and going after phantom targets is not much different from shooting blanks.

On the reporting front — when chasing after often elusive targets — one must be careful not to get locked into a few popular measurements in the organization. Again, I recommend looking at the results in every possible way to construct the story of “what really happened.”

For instance:

  • Response Rate/Conversion Rate: Total conversions over total contacted. Much like open and click-through rate, but I’d keep the original denominator — not just those who opened and clicked — to provide a reality check for everyone. Often, the “real” response rate (or conversion rate) would be far below 1% when divided by the total mail volume (or contact volume). Nonetheless, very basic and important metrics. Always try to go there, and do not stop at opens and clicks.
  • Average Transaction Value: If someone converted, what is the value of the transaction? If you collect these figures over time on an individual level, you will also obtain Average Value per Customer, which in turn is the backbone of the Lifetime Value calculation. You will also be able to see the effect of subsequent purchases down the line, in this competitive world where most responders are one-time buyers (refer to “Wrestling the One-Time Buyer Syndrome”).
  • Revenue Per 1,000 Contacts: Revenue divided by total contacts multiplied by 1,000. This is my favorite, as this figure captures both responsiveness and the transaction value at the same time. From here, one can calculate net margin of campaign on an individual level, if the acquisition or promotion cost is available at that level (though in real life, I would settle for campaig- level ROI any time).

These are just three basic figures covering responsiveness and value, and marketers may gain important intelligence if they look at these figures by, but not limited to, the following elements:

  • Channel/Media
  • Campaign
  • Source of the contact list
  • Segment/Selection Rule/Model Score Group (i.e., How is the target selected)
  • Offer and Creative (hopefully someone categorized an endless series of these)
  • Wave (if there are multiple waves or drops within a campaign)
  • Other campaign details such as seasonality, day of the week, daypart, etc.

In the ultimate quest to find “what really works,” it is prudent to look at these metrics on multiple levels. For instance, you may find that these key metrics behave differently in different channels, and combinations of offers and other factors may trigger responsiveness and value in previously unforeseen manners.

No one would know all of the answers before tests, but after a few iterations, marketers will learn what the key segments within the target are, and how they should deal with them discriminately going forward. That is what we commonly refer to as a scientific approach, and the first step is to recognize that:

  • There may be multiple pockets of distinct buyers,
  • Not one type of metrics will tell us the whole story, and
  • We are not supposed to batch and blast to a one-dimensional target with a uniform message.

I am not at all saying that all of the popular metrics for digital marketing are irrelevant; but remember that open and clicks are just directional indicators toward conversion. And the value of the customers must be examined in multiple ways, even after the conversion. Because there are so many ways to define success — and failure — and each should be a lesson for future improvements on targeting and messaging.

It may be out of fashion to say this old term in this century, but that is what “closed-loop” marketing is all about, regardless of the popular promotion channels of the day.

The names of metrics may have changed over time, but the measurement of success has always been about engagement level and the money that it brings.

Turn the Funnel Upside Down for Better ROI Planning

Many conventional marketers depict the progression from prospect to buyer as a funnel starting with impressions at the top and working down through the sales cycle to responses, leads, qualified leads and finally buyers. This approach tells a top-to-bottom chronological story of the promotion process.

Many conventional marketers depict the progression from prospect to buyer as a funnel starting with impressions at the top and working down through the sales cycle to responses, leads, qualified leads and finally buyers. This approach tells a top-to-bottom chronological story of the promotion process.

Better ROI chart
Credit: Chuck McLeester

But turning the funnel upside down provides a much more useful approach to planning ROI. It has its roots in the fundamental principles of direct response: customer lifetime value (LTV) and allowable acquisition cost (AAC).

Better ROI chart 2
Credit: Chuck McLeester

You can start out at the top of the upside-down funnel using your customer lifetime value, or if you’re interested in getting a specific return on a short-term promotion, you can use the value of a one-time transaction. Either way, you’re starting with the value of a customer — be it short-term or long-term.

Once you determine a revenue point to work with, set a target ROI and calculate your AAC (allowable acquisition cost). For this illustration, let’s assume that the transaction is worth $200 and our target ROI at 2:1. This results in an AAC of $100; that is, the amount we can spend to get the transaction.

AAC chart by Chuck McLeesterAs you move to the lower portions of the upside-down funnel, you apply assumptions about the conversion rates at each stage. You may have some historical data on which to base these assumptions, but if you don’t apply industry standards or make educated guesstimates. Ultimately, you’ll learn what the actual rates are in a well-constructed test scenario. For example, if you assume that 30 percent of all qualified leads will convert to buyers, then the allowable cost per qualified lead is $30.

Qualified lead formula for better ROI
Credit: Chuck McLeester

Similarly, you can calculate the allowable cost per lead, cost per response and cost per impression all the way to the base of the upside-down funnel. So if you estimate that two-thirds of your leads will be qualified, your allowable cost per lead is $20, and so on.

Allowable cost/lead formula for better ROI
Credit: Chuck McLeester

 As you reach the bottom of the upside-down funnel, you can determine the required response rates from each medium under consideration. You can either make an assumption about the percentage of clicks, calls or responses that will turn into leads, or you can go straight to calculating the number of leads you need from each medium based on the media cost as shown here.

Final graphic for better ROI
Credit: Chuck McLeester
  1. Divide the cost of the media by the allowable lead cost to determine the number of leads required from each medium
  2. Divide the number of leads required by the circulation or number of impressions associated with that medium

For example,

Final formula for better ROI
Credit: Chuck McLeester

 (These calculations can also be done on a CPM basis).

Then, do a gut-check. Is that response rate realistic? Don’t know? Test it. A carefully controlled small test will quantify your assumptions at each point of the upside-down funnel.

How Are Your Direct Mail Response Rates?

There are so many marketing channel options now it can be hard to decide where you should invest to get the most bang for your buck. According to the DMA’s 2017 “Response Rate Report,” direct mail continues to provide the best response rate. The cost per acquisition rate is higher than other channels, but it is worth it.

direct mail
Creative Commons license. | Credit: Pixabay by Alexas_Fotos

There are so many marketing channel options now it can be hard to decide where you should invest to get the most bang for your buck. According to the DMA’s 2017 “Response Rate Report,” direct mail continues to provide the best response rate. The cost per acquisition rate is higher than other channels, but it is worth it.

Keep in mind that the best marketing is done through multiple channels, so make sure you are able to track each channel’s results. Use the ones that work best for you.

Almost all business types currently use direct mail and benefit from it. So, let’s get into the details the DMA found in its report of what they are doing that is working.

  • Postcards — A house file had a 5.7 percent response rate with an ROI of 29 percent and prospect file had a 3.4 percent response rate with an ROI of 23 percent.
  • Letter Sized Envelopes — A house file had a 4.37 percent response rate with an ROI of 29 percent and prospect file had a 2.5 percent response rate with an ROI of 23 percent.
  • Flat Sized Envelopes — A house file had a 6.6 percent response rate with an ROI of 37 percent and prospect file had a 4.9 percent response rate with an ROI of 30 percent.

They do not track rates for self-mailers or booklets, I am not sure why. The two most common uses for direct mail are direct sale and lead generation, and no matter the use, a flat size envelope wins. So how are companies tracking their direct mail results?

  1. Online 61 percent of companies are tracking online with the use of PURLs, landing pages and more.
  2. Phone  53 percent of companies track phone calls to either a call center or designated location.
  3. Code or Coupon  42 percent of companies use coupons or codes to track.

They also use, at much smaller rates, matchback, linked sales transactions, list coding and others. There is no right or wrong way to track, do what works best for you. The most important thing is that you are tracking your results.

Now, are you curious about volumes of mail? Based on monthly volume, companies are doing the following:

  • 50,000 or less = 39 percent for a house list and 36 percent for a prospect list
  • 50,001- 150,000 = 21 percent for a house list and 15 percent for a prospect list
  • 150,001 – 250,000 = 16 percent for a house list and 12 percent for a prospect list

Finally, let’s look at cost per format:

  • Letter: $22.55 for a house list and $39.75 for a prospect list
  • Postcard: $14.60 for a house list and $29.70 for a prospect list
  • Flat: $29.30 for a house list and $31.90 for a prospect list

As you can see from these numbers, direct mail can really be a benefit to your marketing. If you have done direct mail before but not recently or if you have not used direct mail before, you need to make sure that your final designs meet postal regulations. There is no reason to pay extra postage when you don’t have to. Your mail service provider can help you navigate the regulations and facilitate your direct mail campaigns. Are you ready to get started? Your prospects and customers are waiting to hear from you.

Why Direct Mail Control Packages Fatigue

Almost every direct mail control package will fatigue at some point. The question is simply this: why? Today, I offer my insight and perspective about why winning packages slowly fatigue, and how you can get ahead of the inevitable downward curve.

Almost every direct mail control package will fatigue at some point. The question is simply this: why? Today, I offer my insight and perspective about why winning packages slowly fatigue, and how you can get ahead of the inevitable downward curve.

To understand why a direct mail control — that package you’ve invested time and money that’s now tested and wins above all others — fatigues, it’s first helpful to understand why it worked in the first place. There are a number of reasons, but there are a couple that rise above others:

  • Using the right list, you nailed the emotional hot button of why prospects respond in mass, together at this season in their lives.
  • Using the right offer, you identified the unique selling proposition that sells at this season in their lives.

Key words in the bullets above are, I believe, “at this season in their lives.” Why? Because often, as marketers we’re not always sure the buyer’s mind frame, worldview, or where they are in the season in their lives.

You’ve surely heard the cliché marketers use that says how it’s important to meet buyers where they are. Cliché or not, it’s true.

Your prospect’s state of awareness of their problem, and your solution, along with where you meet them with your copy and offer, dictates your success.

In other words, people are at some point on a continuum of knowledge about their problem and solution. Imagine a scale of 1 to 7 where a 1 represents that your prospect is completely unaware of any aspect of your product or service. Conversely, a 7 means your prospect is completely aware.

To create a winning message — whether direct mail and any other channel — your headline and lead should match the awareness on the 1 to 7 scale to be effective.

If your prospect is, say, at a 2, but your copy is at a 5, you’ll lose them because the prospect didn’t understand what you were trying to sell.

After testing various messaging approaches in your copy to “meet your prospect where they are,” let’s say you finally hit a winner: most of your prospects on the 1 to 7 scale have an awareness of 4, and your sales message aligns with that spot. You’re achieving your objectives. Time to roll out!

So you do, mailing over and over the same direct mail package, or using this message in digital channels. But in time, your prospect has seen your promotion … or they’ve caught a story on social media or TV on the topic … or they’ve read something somewhere that makes them a bit more educated and moves them up the knowledge scale.

In today’s lightning fast news cycle, in a short time — perhaps a few months — but maybe only days or hours — your market’s awareness has risen from, say, 2 to 4, or maybe even quickly from a 2 to a 7. But if you haven’t been testing different copy and creative in anticipation of this increase in awareness, you risk your message no longer being aligned with your market. If you don’t stay on top of this changing awareness and understanding, your direct mail control package or messaging in other channels fatigues, and you’ll wonder why.

In a future blog post I’ll dive into various degrees of awareness, and how you can better determine where your customers are, and where you should be. But in the meantime, here’s what you should be doing:

  1. Assess your prospect’s awareness of the problem your product or service solves.
  2. Write several different headlines and leads, with each aligning at a different level on an awareness scale.
  3. Start testing them against one another to find the sweet spot — in this moment.

Remember: if your successful headline today is a 2, you need to be testing at levels 3, 4 and higher. If you do that and find that a test is “over the heads” of your market today, tuck it away in the wings and consider testing it again when the time is right.

If you don’t identify your future “sweet spot” today, then someday, when you least expect it, your prospects will have moved higher up their awareness scale, and you’ll be resting on your laurels, thinking you’re spending money on a direct mail control winner that’s gradually slipping away.

Gary Hennerberg’s latest book is “Crack the Customer Mind Code: Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” is available on Amazon. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways and other copywriting and consulting tips, go to Hennerberg.com.

Direct Mail: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Direct mail is a powerful tool in marketers back pockets. Many marketers have forgotten the gift of direct mail and what it can do to their ROI. Are you one of them?

Stardust and magic in woman hands on dark backgroundDirect mail is a powerful tool in marketers back pockets. Many marketers have forgotten the gift of direct mail and what it can do to their ROI. Are you one of them? With so many channel options and a focus on a more digital strategy, it’s no surprise that direct mail is left in the pocket. You look at the cost of postage alone and it can be a real turn off. However, if you are not using direct mail, you are missing out.

Why you ask? Direct mail is expensive but check out these stats from an InfoTrends study on what it can do for you:

  • 66 percent of direct mail is opened
  • 82 percent of direct mail is read for one minute or more
  • 78 percent think direct mail is effective
  • Response rates, on average, are 5 percent for customer list and 2 percent for prospects
  • The mean number of direct mail pieces received in a week are 3.5 letters in envelopes, 2.4 flyers/pamphlets, 1.9 brochures and 1.3 postcards
  • 56 percent of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store
  • 62 percent of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase

What do these mean to you? It means your message stands out in the mailbox, gets read and gets acted upon. That is why direct mail is a gift that keeps on giving. Yes it is expensive, but it is also very effective. Are you convinced that you now need to add direct mail to your marketing mix? Great! Now you are ready to learn how to effectively do that.

3 Keys to Effective Direct Mail

1. People: Selecting the right people to send your mail to is very important. The best way to make sure you have a good ROI is targeting the people most likely to be interested in your offer. The more targeted you are the better response you are going to get.

2. Design: You need to grab attention immediately. Your use of color, images and a headline will keep you out of the trash can. Focus on benefits, not features.

3. Offer: Your offer needs to be concise, specific and appealing. Test different versions to see what works best for you.

Creating an ongoing direct mail campaign is the best way to generate increasingly better results. It can take eight to 10 touches before a prospect is ready to consider your offer. The reason direct mail is a gift that keeps on giving is because people respond when they are ready. You mailer may sit on the counter for two weeks to a month before it gets acted upon, but it will be there when they are ready.

In order to grow your ROI with direct mail, you need to track everything. The more data you have the better you can target the right people with the right offers. Many times direct mail pieces drive people to online purchase. Are you able to follow them and know they came from your direct mail offer? One way to do that is through offer codes. Every offer version has its own code as well as each channel. This gives you valuable information on the buying cycle of your customers.

If you take the time and effort to do direct mail right, you will reap the rewards. As mailboxes are less full than email and other digital ads we are bombarded with, direct mail stands out and is the gift you need to grow your marketing results. It’s time to create a great campaign!

How to Overcome Resistance With Direct Mail

The biggest challenge for marketing, no matter what the channel, is driving response. One of the best benefits of direct mail is that it has an easier time overcoming the resistance to responding. Of course, not all direct mail works. How can you get your direct mail to drive a better response? Let’s look at four tips.

The biggest challenge for marketing, no matter what the channel, is driving response. One of the best benefits of direct mail is that it has an easier time overcoming the resistance to responding. Of course, not all direct mail works. How can you get your direct mail to drive a better response? Let’s look at four tips.

4 Ways to Overcome Resistance to Your Marketing With Direct Mail

  1. Emotion: Start by addressing the emotions people have about making a purchase. They have fear about the unknown. Give them some testimonials from people like them that loved your product or service. They have some anger about having to deal with this now and the urge to procrastinate about it. Provide benefits for them to see how great it will be after the purchase and give them a deadline to respond by. Finally, you need to address the self-doubt they are having. Are they making the wrong decision? Will it work? You can help reinforce them with compliments and positive messaging.
  2. Experience: Use the direct mail piece to create and experience for your customers and prospects. There are many ways you can do this such as adding video, augmented reality, texture and so much more. Hands-on experiences are powerful. The most important part here is that the experience is relevant to your product or service and is engaging and fun.
  3. Trust: People buy from companies they trust. Your direct mail needs to be trustworthy. In order to do that you need to be clear about what they can expect from your product or service. You need to be very open and honest with your messaging while keeping your tone optimistic. This is another place where testimonials really help. People believe other people like them. Another factor is repetition. It really does take eight to 10 touches with prospects before they feel comfortable buying from you. Keep in mind that multi-channel marketing can help you here. In many studies over the years direct mail has been the top trusted marketing channel so use that to your advantage.
  4. Focus: The focus of you direct mail piece should be on converting the people who are ambivalent into buyers. They are the quickest way to increasing your response rates. They are not a full on “no,” they are a “maybe.” Find out the ways to reach them specifically to address the three ways above. When you are able to address all their concerns you can get them to act and buy from you.

Keep in mind that you are asking people to make a change when they buy from you. Many people do not like change and that is why your messaging is so important. Grab their attention with your design, but get them to buy with your message. The four ways discussed above will help you drive your response rates up, but the only way to sustain growth over time is to be driven and consistently changing what you are doing. Yes, you should be sending mail to people multiple times, but not the same thing — you need to change it up.

The real power of direct mail is targeting. When you add variable data messaging to your highly targeted list, you are tapping into a persuasive method. Make it easy for them to respond by providing them an offer that is relevant, a web address they can make a purchase from that is mobile friendly, and any other ways you want to provide a phone number they can call. The easier it is the more response you are going to get.

How to Tell If Your Marketing Works

My live Target Marketing Group Webinar yesterday, “How to Tell if Your Marketing Works,” deals with my favorite topic: measuring the results of direct marketing beyond traditional response rate metrics. Direct Marketers are their own worst enemy when it comes to measurement. They often don’t know what’s working and what’s not, because their real ROI is hidden inside their data.

My live Target Marketing Group Webinar yesterday, “How to Tell if Your Marketing Works,” deals with my favorite topic: measuring the results of direct marketing beyond traditional response rate metrics. If you missed it, you can access it on-demand here.

Direct Marketers are their own worst enemy when it comes to measurement. They often don’t know what’s working and what’s not, because their real ROI is hidden inside their data.

Analyzing direct marketing campaigns was a lot easier before the advent of the multichannel consumer. Sure, there were a certain number of orders that we couldn’t attribute to a specific promotion, but for the most part response rates ruled. Now, people check out products in stores and then buy online to get a better deal (think flat screen TVs). Or they shop online, decide what they want based on features and product reviews, and then buy in-person (think cars).

And they do all of this on multiple devices: their home computers, their work computers and their mobile phones and tablets. So it’s hard to track them.

Even though consumers engage with brands on their own terms across multiple platforms, many marketers are stuck measuring the results of individual tactics rather than taking a holistic view of measurement. So when a single email or display ad fails to achieve the target level of attributable sales within a specific period of time, then they consider it a failure. Even though the communication has made an impact on those who didn’t respond, they can’t measure it, so they don’t count it. And while many direct marketing practitioners now embrace the idea that their advertising has a cumulative effect of building a brand over time, most fall short of being able to quantify that ROI with meaningful metrics.

This webinar examines four ways to uncover hidden ROI from your direct marketing promotions:

  1. Using your database to look beyond response rates
  2. Benchmarking your brand awareness and tying increases in awareness to sales
  3. Creating an engagement score to measure the cumulative effect of various promotions over time
  4. Measuring the value of your social media

If you’re interested, check it out here.