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8 Overlooked Testing Strategies

June 16, 2010 By Heather Fletcher
Santa Claus isn't the only one who makes his list and checks it twice. Direct marketers do, too. But, experts say, they definitely have to look over their lists more often than that. To help marketers out, those in the list business provide their own itemizations of overlooked testing strategies.

If marketers follow this advice, they may find more than lumps of coal in their stockings. Those bestowing the gift of wisdom are: Mary Ann Buoncristiano, executive vice president of Princeton, N.J.-based American List Counsel (ALC); Joshua Goff, executive vice president of sales, marketing and product development for Fort Myers, Fla.-based AccuData; and Dave Scott, CEO of Seattle-based Marketfish.

Here's what they say marketers should do:

1. Think of testing as a strategy, instead of a sporadic chore. Several factors have to be in place to have an effective testing strategy, Goff says. The company must be committed to the idea, put a budget in place for it and be willing to fail.

"Not all tests are going to work," he says. "In fact, provocative tests, tests that really try to move the needle, don't often work. And if your organization is not willing to fail and support the people who are involved in the testing, then no one's going to want to test. Because what happens if you fail? You get fired. Or you lose your budget. Or you miss your number. Or something else. So a company has to remove a piece of that from the equation."

Another reason to have a budget in place is to be able to afford renting a big enough list "to really get a good understanding of how well that list performs," Scott says. He suggests staying between 25,000 and 100,000 records for each campaign.

2. Test at various times. Scott says many e-mail marketers hold firm to the idea that "Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. is absolutely the right time" for a campaign to hit recipients' inboxes. But, anymore, B-to-B marketers, for instance, may want to consider Sunday night—when many check their work e-mail so there are fewer surprises on Monday morning. Or, catching the lunchtime inbox peek, Goff says noon can be a good impulse buy time.

Direct mail users may want to do the same, Buoncristiano says, adding that they may also want to try not mailing a particular segment of their file during a specific time period to watch the impact. "Are you still getting the same number of sales?" she asks. "Are these folks getting hit with online advertising? Or do [you] need to mail all of these house file names at the same time?"
 

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