Five Secrets to Test Your Direct Marketing Communications…


Before Deploying

You’ve heard the direct-marketing mail mantra a thousand times: test, test, test. But are you doing it?

I’d be willing to bet is you’re afraid to test. You’re afraid of finding a mistake. A mistake that will put you behind the eight ball. Yes, I know launch time is a killer, but are you afraid to test because of time or maybe you don’t understand testing? Here are my five secrets leading to better testing and better results.

1. If this is you…

Testing is like a hearing aid for listening to your customers. Turn it down, and all you hear is noise. Turn it up and their collective voices become crystal clear.

2. Your customers aren’t a mystery

They’re quite vocal about their likes and dislikes. In fact, every time you reach out to them, they will tell you what products they like, which offers they prefer, and which formats catch their attention. You simply have to know how to listen to them through your testing.

Those who don’t test regularly usually say they don’t have the time, the money, or a contact list that’s big enough.

But testing doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. It will save you both time and money in the long-run. After all, what could be more efficient than high-performing direct marketing communications?

The cost of ignorance is always greater than the cost of knowledge.  

3. What to test if you have less than 50,000 contacts

As for a small list universe, that’s a valid point. It’s one thing if you’re direct mailing a million pieces at a time and can allocate 5,000 names to 50 test cells. But what if your entire universe is 50,000 contacts or less? This is common for some business-to-business companies or those marketing to a small geographic area.

However, even a small list offers testing opportunities. For example, with 50,000 contacts, you could test two cells of 5,000 each and market your control to the remaining 40,000 contacts. This should give you valid tests and protect the performance of your program by sending your control to 80 percent of your list.

4. What to test in large vs. small number of contacts

Large-volume direct marketers can test a broad spectrum of tactics, from major changes in the offer to small tweaks in the copy.

Smaller volume marketers, or those who communicate less frequently, should focus on testing the core elements, such as the offer, lists of contacts, price point, format, or creative concept.

5. Look at testing strategically

You should also consider strategic testing, including a test to see if a direct marketing package works best for you using another channel or whether it’s better to offer free content and then follow up with more details on your product or service. This could require some rethinking of your marketing process, but two or more channel communications have proven quite successful for many businesses.

In my experience, people feel it takes too much time to test. Design a testing program that works for you. For example view your past marketing communications using analytics. Share the data with your team. You may find that another channel or two, such as mail, may create many more opens and response.

Let me know if you have a testing program in place at your company and what result surprised you the most.

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30+ years in marketing. 30+ years as a small business owner. Love music, photography, gardening and just about anything outdoors!

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