Sunday, April 01, 2007

Back to the Basics #1: Testing & Direct Mail

A new colleague of mine at work brought up a good point in the past couple of weeks. Before spending a lot of time on exploring new marketing techniques, you should first make sure that you have the basics in place. How many of us are exploring the uses of new technologies in the marketing mix, and ignoring some of the basics? With that in mind, I am going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about a few basics.

This same colleague is a direct mail expert. I will confess that although I know my fair share about direct mail, it isn't my favorite thing to discuss. It isn't as sexy as some of the newer techniques out there, but it is definitely something we all have to deal with. I have been reminded lately of two important things when looking at your direct mail campaigns: 1) the success of any campaign is directly related to testing, and 2) although testing is important, make sure you are not too aggressive with test campaigns. I think most of us know something about the first is important to test messaging, packaging, promotions, timing, etc. to see which combination of the aforementioned variables work the best. If you aren't testing these sorts of things in your campaigns, you need to start. Even small changes in copy or design can make a huge impact in results.

I will go on a limb and guess that many of us already know the importance of testing, but we might be too agressive with our test campaigns. If you have a mailing of 100,000 pieces, how many should be part of a test campaign, and how many should be part of your control group? If you have a control group which is still performing well, I would suggest not having more than 20% of your total mailing be part of a test group. That way, the group should be large enough to gather results that are statistically valid, but not enough to kill the entire campaign if your test groups completely fail.

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