Blog Test

Direct Marketers Go Digital: Testing #1, #2, #3

Direct Marketing Testing
By Chris Nolan October 17, 2018 No Comments

Everyone knows testing improves performance, but who has the time or budget to test rigorously?

Marketers are constantly asked to quantify how they’re improving Direct Marketing results while ensuring these programs are targeted enough to drive conversion. They know the only way to really move the needle with Direct Mail and online is to perform rigorous and consistent testing to identify and scale the winners. They also know that expanding testing is critical to optimize campaigns, but it requires a lot more time and resources, and they’re being asked to do it with the same staff and budget.

How do they leverage these Direct Marketing best practices faced with the same tired workflow solutions and limited budget?

They go digital.

Digital technology is giving Direct Marketers and mailers the power to move seamlessly from traditional A/B testing to progressive multivariate testing—without the executional complexities and headaches that once made this type of progress so daunting.

They can conduct smarter, better tests in all facets of a Direct Marketing program — from audience and offer selection to the creative and production fine-tuning that are so essential to achieving better results.

Digitized, automated solutions are transforming how they work, how they control costs, and how they thrive at a job that’s far easier.

Here are three key technology-based trends that are defining the new, digital arena where Direct Marketers compete and win:

Trend #1 — Smart, Data-Driven Targeting

Enhancing Audience Segmentation

Layer on additional customer attributes to enhance audience segmentation and inform content strategies and personalization. For example, Target, the large retailer, recently implemented a program to two million customers in which enhanced personalization was used to generate a 50% lift over previous mailings.

Re-Engaging the Unresponsive

Mail to the audience segments and/or demographics that have not been engaging in a digital environment to re-energize campaigns suffering from email fatigue. Shoppers who receive a promotional mailing are likely to recall it 75% of the time, compared to only 44% who receive the same email communication. And according to the USPS, 69% of consumers feel that Direct Mail is more personal than the internet.

Adding More Personalization

Overlay consumer data on B2B prospects and leads to personalize content to the individual and engage each member of your audience with true one-to-one communications.

Expand Your Capabilities

With the right tools in place, Direct Marketers can select their audience based on projected behavior and propensity to buy. They can use online data to gauge intent. And they can incorporate these findings into a test matrix that lets them fully leverage predictive data to test which offers and messaging will resonate most with their audience.

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Trend #2 — Greater Personalization for Offers

Micro-Target Offers to Customers and Prospects

No matter how specific the audience designated for the test, there can be a big payoff when an offer is rolled out to a larger audience. Marketers can enhance the personalization even more with a personalized URL (PURL) as the mailer call to action, much like Robert Morris University did in a mailing that beat the control by 79%.

Vary Offer Types and Strategies Based on Customer Data

It’s the offer-centric equivalent of predictive modeling for audience selection — a forecast of which audience segments are likely to prefer Widget Offer “A” over Rebate Offer “B” or Whitepaper “C.”

Drive Target Audiences to Online Interactive Experiences

Whether it’s a virtual reality or an augmented reality experience, Facebook Live Event, or any other type of venue, in every instance, you can test the most effective way to invite customers and prospects to engage with your brand — whether it’s by imparting information, satisfying social needs, providing entertainment, or some other combination.

Trend #3 — Better Creative/Production Testing

When it comes to creative and production testing, marketers can mail and test what they want, when they want — by joining leading DM players who are at the forefront of using new technologies to innovatively test the following:


Personalization can deliver 5X – 8X ROI and increase sales by 10% or more. So many multivariate combinations are possible when marketers version mailings by gender, locality, region, native language, income, demographics, psychographics and buying history. All can impact the customer’s or prospect’s likelihood of responding.


Technology can enable the flexibility to improve testing and make operations leaner and more agile. You know the drill: You order paper nine months in advance. You send out two million postcards per month. And you’re locked into rigid schedules that don’t allow for much innovation or improvisation. It’s far better when you can stream the flow of your mailings and focus on smaller, more cost-efficient drops.

Channel Pairing

Combining Direct Mail and digital can increase conversions by 10–30%. Testing Direct Mail versus email or testing an integrated campaign isn’t new. But what if marketers could move beyond traditional Direct Mail testing and do 20 tests all at once around timing, frequency, sequence, and messaging? They can — and they gain more actionable knowledge from a single mailing/blast than from many previous efforts combined.


Unusual formats average a 5% response rate and dimensional mailers 4%, compared to postcards that average 2.47% for a house list and 1.12% for a general public/prospect list. Marketers can let your needs dictate format. Like including an exceptionally large package or unusually small one in a test to see if they stand out and improve results. Or see if recipients respond positively to an interactive experience by testing an iron cross package, pop-up or slide chart.


Now marketers can finally determine whether the package with the 130lb. premium gloss card stock out-pulls the 100lb. gloss card stock. Digital can’t match the texture and physical handling of a Direct Mail piece. But marketers haven’t been able to exploit this advantage to its fullest through testing. Today, they can determine whether the pressure-sensitive decal, spot varnish, embossing or other product attributes make a significant difference.

Digital Transformation Is The Fix

It’s one thing to visualize ideal testing scenarios like this, but it’s another to find the time to create, QC and manage multiple, concurrent versions of test mailings. For many organizations, the reality is that their Direct Marketing teams are stretched too thin to plan and implement a comprehensive testing strategy. Plus, Direct Mail and email teams are likely housed within different organizational silos that prevent effectively coordinating viable cross-channel synergy.

The fix? Adopting new Direct Marketing — digital transformation — technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to test Direct Marketing programs with a frequency, consistency, and accuracy once thought impossible.

Find out how to conduct the most complex multivariate tests with surprising ease and manage your entire offline Direct Mail operation via a single, digitized, automated solution — check out New Testing Trends in Direct Marketing.

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