Direct Mail Testing Strategy
Direct mail marketing is much more complex than it appears. Every tiny detail in your direct mail can have a different effect on the recipient and influence their response. And unless you can get it just right, you will never be able to tap into the full potential of direct mail.
So, how do you ensure that your direct mail is equipped with everything you need for running a successful campaign? The answer to this question is by employing a direct mail testing strategy that aligns with your business goals.
Direct mail marketing is not a new concept for marketers. In fact, it has been around for more than a century helping businesses to facilitate one-on-one communication with their customers. Even back in the day, you could measure the effectiveness of direct mail. But, it was based purely on responses and no other data.
A direct mail campaign depends on data-driven decisions and analytic capabilities to get the optimum result. Hence, it is no wonder that marketers belonging to every industry vertical are turning to data-driven direct mail testing ideas.
The data-driven direct mail testing strategy enables marketers to make continuous improvements. As a result, businesses encourage response from their audience. This is possible because the direct mail data helps you better comprehend what the audience wants and how you can motivate them to respond.
A few years ago, having such capabilities for your printed direct mail would have been next to impossible. But, with the uprising of advanced direct mail solutions like PostGrid, you now have superior control over direct mail data.
Today, you can access data of all types and sizes to optimize your direct mail operations. The access to direct mail data and insights enables you to carry out advanced testing strategies like A/B testing. This allows businesses to streamline their direct mail campaigns.
This article discusses some of the best direct mail testing strategies and practices in the world. Following these strategies and practices can ensure the best results for your campaigns.
5 Best Direct Mail Testing Strategies and Practices
Identifying market segments and customizing your campaign message and offer for the unique segments is the key to a successful campaign. Using the latest direct mail testing ideas can help you with this segment identification and targeting them better.
Moving forward, let us explain how direct mail testing strategies and practices can be effectively used for optimizing your campaigns.
1. Continuous or Ongoing Direct Mail Testing
Direct mail testing was never meant to be a one-time process that you can execute once and be done with. Unfortunately, even today, many companies and entrepreneurs are under the impression that direct mail testing is a day’s work carried out once or twice a year.
However, the truth of the matter is that every direct mail testing is a continuous or ongoing process. The whole purpose of direct mail testing is to achieve a long-term advantage over your competitors. Such a feat can not be achieved unless and until you can commit your valuable time and effort to it.
Test And Track
You need to continuously test different strategies, offers, tactics, and customer lists of your business. It will help you figure out what you can do to create a successful direct mail campaign. Furthermore, you must keep track of all these tests and cross-examine the data from time to time to identify certain patterns in it.
This implies that all your direct mail campaigns should be carefully analyzed to identify these patterns. However, you don’t need to go all out with tests on every campaign because some of them may have common elements that were already tested.
Businesses must ensure that at least some form of test is conducted on the campaigns. This is because you never know what insight can prove to be valuable for your campaigns in terms of profitability.
Identify Patterns And Effects of a Campaign
A well-executed direct mail testing strategy can help you identify the key aspects of your campaigns. This includes identifying new markets and accurately segmenting them based on reliable data. Similarly, you can also introduce new products based on demand and the purchase history of previous campaigns.
It is also worth noting that there have been instances where companies saw a staggering difference in their direct mail campaign results just by trying out alternative designs. What’s even more interesting is that sometimes even subtle changes such as a CTA design change are enough to bring in such results.
2. Develop and Test Hypothesis
Direct mail testing strategy is in many ways a form of science where you continuously test and track your progress. So, the best way to go about direct mail testing ideas is to develop a hypothesis. Once developed, you need to test the hypothesis through practical application.
The test is created so that you can prove or disprove a specific hypothesis that you have come up with for your direct mail campaign. Developing a hypothesis also means that it requires you to establish how you intend to run a test and arrive at a conclusion.
An example of a simple hypothesis in a direct mail campaign could include finding out that a campaign using postcards generates more responses than a sealed cover letter. Similarly, any conclusion you can draw from a direct mail testing strategy can be considered a valid hypothesis.
Some of the major aspects you can consider for your direct mail hypothesis are the offers you use in the campaign and the audience. Additionally, you should consider factors such as messages and the creatives you use. However, the audience and the offer are the core components that impact your campaign’s performance more than anything else.
3. Testing The Target Audience
As we have mentioned before, the primary component you should consider for a direct mail testing strategy is the target audience. The direct mailing list you use for a specific campaign can decide the fate of that campaign.
Furthermore, you can even assess specific segments in your mailing list for a more in-depth analysis of the target audience. The tests you carry out based on the target audience can also reveal insights that can help you. You can find what appeals to your target audience and even identify demographic patterns through the tests.
One of the best ways to analyze a direct mail campaign based on the target audience is to use an A/B split test. This will enable you to split up your target audience into different segments. After that, you can get more informative insights related to your campaigns.
4. Testing The Offers
Testing the offers is another major pillar that holds up your direct mail campaign. Regardless of whether your target audience is a general one or one belonging to a very specific niche, providing them with an incredible offer is bound to generate a response.
By the end of the day, the offer in your direct mail is what decides whether the recipient can be pushed towards conversion or not. Normally the response to your campaign is somewhat proportionate to the offer you give the audience.
However, if you use an offer that’s not relevant to the product or service you sell, then you may still get the response, but it probably won’t turn into successful sales. Hence it is critical to assess the offer you pitch to your target audience and formulate an effective direct mail testing strategy.
5. A/B Direct Mail Split Testing
The easiest A/B split testing you can do is a single variable one. As you may have already figured, in a single variable split testing, you take two identical versions of the mailer except for a single variable.
The single variable A/B testing is a simple concept where we try to observe any noticeable change in audience behavior based on a single variable. Once you have created the A and B versions of the mailer, you can then split the direct mail list into two.
The splitting of your direct mail list can be done randomly as long as it is split equally. After splitting the direct mail list, version A of the mailer is sent to one half, and version B is sent to the other half. All that’s left to do now is to wait for the recipients to respond and analyze the same.
Why is a Single Variable A/B Test Ideal For Direct Mail Testing?
The single variable A/B test is often considered to be one of the best choices for direct mail testing because its results are crystal clear. You can easily determine which aspect of your mailer made the recipient react differently to it.
On the other hand, if you were to test more than one variable of your direct mail, it would not deliver a precise conclusion. This is because you won’t be able to tell with full conviction which of the two variables actually made a difference.
Using two completely different mailers will also have you searching in the dark for the elements that the recipient found intriguing. Such practices can only lead to more confusion and might take countless iterations to narrow in on the elements that worked in favor of the mailer.
Variables You Can Consider For A/B Split Testing
The primary variable that you can consider while conducting an A/B split test is the offers. You can try different offers, including discounts, sign-on bonuses, free shipping, gifts, trials, and so on. One of the offers likely connects better with your target audience than the others.
Another variation you can try for A/B split testing is the manner of presentation. It means that you can use the same offer and present it to the same audience but differently. In other words, you can try presenting a discount offer in terms of dollars off and percent saved.
Similarly, you can also test out other aspects of direct mail. It includes call-to-actions (CTAs), headline copy, design variations, and so on.
A/B Direct Mail Test For Existing/Prior Campaign
Another popular A/B direct mail testing that businesses can use is the one where they can test out existing campaigns against previous ones. Let us consider version A as the previously used mailer and version B as the mailer that you are currently using.
Here, both the mailers are entirely different from each other, and hence there are numerous variables between them. Therefore, a single variable A/B testing is not possible in this case unless you decide to use a previously employed mailer.
The testing method in this type of A/B testing is similar to the single variable one. Your business’s mail list is again split into two, and version A or the previously used mailer is sent to one half. Then, respectively, version B of the mailer, which is the new one, is sent to the other half of the mail list.
Continually Improve Your Ongoing Campaigns
This A/B testing is ideal for continually improving the ongoing direct mail campaigns of your business. It is especially effective when it comes to onboarding campaigns or the ones you recently created to welcome new customers. It is mostly due to the fact that these campaigns involve a lot of new contacts being added to your CRM list.
Things to Note
When conducting an A/B direct mail testing for existing and prior campaigns, you must ensure only one version of the mailer is sent to a single prospect. A contact in your mail list can only receive either the A or B version of the mailer.
Suppose you send both the mailers to a single customer during the test period. In this case, you can’t accurately track their response or performance. This is because there is no way of telling which of the two mailers the customer is responding to.
When running direct mail campaigns, you need to consider the fact that your audience is also changing as time passes, and so is their taste. Therefore, if you automate your direct mail process using triggers, it is best to run a control test every now and then. This will help you continuously evolve your campaign to suit the taste of the target audience.
Significance of Automated Tech in Your Direct Mail Testing Strategy
With the help of an advanced direct mail automation tool like PostGrid, you can streamline all major direct mail operations. And as a result, you can streamline every stressful manual task associated with them. Apart from taking away the need for manual processes, such tools also provide superior testing capabilities.
Direct mail automation tools like PostGrid give you access to valuable data and insights that can help you assess the effectiveness of your campaigns. Furthermore, it is significantly easy to personalize your mailer using an automated direct mail tool. You can test out various visual elements and have the mailer printed and delivered to your target audience with the click of a button.
Formulating a direct mail testing strategy for your business is easier said than done. You need to know which aspects of your direct mail can affect your campaigns and how big of an effect they can create on the target audience.
Furthermore, you also need access to a direct mail automation tool with advanced data insights. Such tools help you make data-driven decisions. Tools like PostGrid enable businesses to optimize their direct mail campaigns. As a result, you are able to implement new direct mail testing ideas.
In addition to all this, PostGrid comes equipped with capabilities like bulk address verification. It enables businesses to ensure the deliverability of their direct mail. With so many features and capabilities, it is evident that businesses need a direct mail automation tool like PostGrid to implement their direct mail testing strategy.