The insights which make direct marketing more profitable

by David Cole on 21/01/2013

Direct marketers know that the success of the discipline depends on two rules: – Rule one, test. Rule two, refer to rule one.

But when budgets are being squeezed and deadlines are looming, there’s just not the time or money to use traditional testing methods which can take several months to deliver results.

Historically, marketers relied on feedback on a single cell – and then seldom in a high enough volume to report reliably on more than the level of response.

This type of DM testing did not reveal the ideal audience profile or indicate which type of respondents were most likely to be open to up-selling at a later stage.

And it was a slow process, typically taking months between initiation and the delivery of results. This meant brands were always several months behind the curve, constantly responding to yesterday’s needs and problems.

By the time they’d changed their marketing program, the environment had moved on. And as digital advances sped the pace of change, so the value of traditional testing methods decreased and direct marketers began to rely on “experience” and outmoded rules, thus risking devaluing their own discipline.

Web-based testing could not fill the breech, because of its heavy bias towards a particular audience.

Now many brands and agencies have discovered online, panel-based research which can deliver ten times the insights, in a tenth of the time, for a tenth of the cost of the old methods.

Panel-based testing allows the recruitment of a representative audience – carefully and pedantically recruited to reflect the target audience and the channel being marketed to.

This enables brands to dramatically speed-up their learning cycle and keep connected to its customers.

Marketers have always wished they could test a whole host of variables before committing their budget to a large scale door drop. But, for example, were they to test audience; offer; incentive; location; endorsement; outer envelope; PS; and payment term, these seven options alone account for 11,520 possible combinations.

And there are many other tempting testable aspects of a pack – copy and/or illustration variations; tone-of-voice…the list is potentially endless.

Using traditional methods, only one or two of these options could be tested.

But online panel-based research allows the simultaneous inclusion of many variables, by either a panel which mirrors the brand’s customer base; by one which echoes the UK demographically; or fits whatever other profile would be most effective.

There are many things traditional methods can not reveal, but online testing can – here are ten of them.

Marketing Must Knows

Customer profiling

allows you to reach more or your best-profile customer

Concept testing

reveals which proposition works best

Copy testing

shows which messages deliver the best response

Incentive testing

identifies the incentive item which will generate the highest response

Price testing

identifies the optimum price which can be asked

Attitude testing

pinpoints ways in which you can best target your competitors’ customers

Product testing


indicates ways to maximise people’s recall of ads

Creative testing


reveals how creative content can be improved

Customer loyalty testing


identifies the reasons customers are leaving

Digital testing

will show how social media can be effectively integrated into the marketing mix

Digital testing will show how social media can be effectively integrated into the marketing mix

These insights will enable you to abandon the one-pack-fits-all approach and segment cost-effectively.

Previously, even failing control packs were exceedingly difficult to beat in tests – and very few control-pack tests were even affordable in a year. But now it is possible to test various aspects of the control pack and constantly improve aspects in it to avoid the usual gradual degradation of response

Many new initiatives fail because although brands have identified what works, they don’t know why it works because they lack the insights needed to improve future campaigns.

Sometimes, using traditional tests, the detail of the next campaign has to be finalised before the insight results from the last one become available.

Now, within a couple of weeks of their last campaign, marketers can use online testing to find out:

• what people respond to

• why they respond

• when they are likely to respond

• where they will respond

• how they will respond

The rules are simple: be precise, target specific groups, locations and audiences; be thorough, test multiple creative, propositions and asks; be fast, get key insights and results in days, not months

Click here for a case history which shows how the appeal of a promotion targeting householders with a proposal to change their utility provider was significantly affected by the choice of incentive used.; 02072 420702

For your free daily marketing TWinsight visit @fastMAP

This article was written by...

– who has written 2 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

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