How to Test Your Direct Mail Campaigns

19 November 2019 / By Mike Gunderson
Reading time: 4 minutes
Testing is the best way to improve direct mail campaigns and their outcomes, we share the best methodologies.

The “marketing mindset” tells us that feeling satisfied is the same as being complacent. Marketers should always look for ways to improve their campaigns and their outcomes, and the best way to do that is through testing.

What top marketers understand is that testing is never a one-and-done activity—it’s an ongoing process that helps to answer questions and inform every aspect of your marketing initiatives. Sure, sometimes testing can merely confirm what you already knew, but just as often, it can reveal outcomes that may have gone against your gut instinct or previous personal experience.

But, how do you uncover which elements of your direct mail campaign are working and which ones are falling flat?

Here’s how to analyze and test your direct mail campaigns.

 

Analyze the data

It’s nearly impossible to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. If you’re feeling frustrated with the results of your direct mail campaigns, then it’s time to analyze the data derived from the tracking measures you included in past campaigns.

Did you lose money? Was the response rate high, yet your conversions low? Or was the response rate low overall?

Once you’ve taken a close look at your data, review the direct mail pieces themselves. Were your offers enticing enough? Was your message clear? Did you provide easy and concise calls-to-action? In hindsight, was the design bland, or did it stand out from the crowd?

Once you’ve reviewed the data and results of your previous campaigns, then you can move on to selecting a control piece.

 

Select your control piece

Now that you’ve identified the areas in need of improvement, it’s time to decide which test you’d like to run. But first, you need to establish a control piece to ensure the validity of your test results and help you draw more accurate conclusions. 

To select your control piece, choose a piece of direct mail with a proven track record of high success. These will be the metrics you measure the success of your future campaigns against. Just be sure to continually update your control piece as you develop future campaigns. It should always be reflective of your most successful campaign to-date.

 

Testing

Once you have a clear understanding of your past metrics and a control piece to measure the effectiveness of your future campaigns, it’s time to choose which type of test you’d like to run. There are two primary types:

  1. The A/B split test

This is the most common form of direct mail testing. A/B testing involves sending two packages or mailers that differ in any one of the following ways:

  • personalization
  • offers
  • headlines
  • formats
  • or the same mailer sent to two different lists

When performing an A/B test, one version should be your control piece, and the other is your variant. This will allow you to gauge how well your new material will perform when the campaign launches.

 

  1. Multi-Variable test

Unlike an A/B test, the multi-variable test, or multi-variate test, allows you to test several changes at one time and measure them against your control piece. This type of testing is best when you want to see what happens if you change several components, like the offer, CTA, design, etc. However, the number of components that you change and test is directly correlated to the number of test versions that you send out.

For example, if you want to experiment with a different offer and a new CTA, you will need to create and send four variations of the mailer along with unique tracking methods to measure their performance. The four variations would include the following:

 

Measure the results

Once you’ve selected and launched your test pieces, it’s time to measure the results. Are you seeing a higher conversion rate? If so, your new CTA could be a winner. Are your response rates higher? Maybe the new design you were testing really resonated with the audience.

Remember, when it comes to testing, there is no endgame. There will be times when you have to re-test some of your components, and there will be times when one aspect of your campaign is working great but the others need work.

There will always be areas in need of improvement, but if you let the data inform your decisions, instead of your expert gut instinct, you’ll find success with your direct mail efforts.

 

Need help testing the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns? Drop us a line.

 

 

 

 

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About The Author

Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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