10 International Direct Mail Tests (895 words)
A change in your offer, creative or package size can dramatically increase response—or not. You'll never know unless you test. That's the beauty of direct marketing: You have the ability to test, re-test and roll out with your best effort.
At Al Goodloe's recent Publisher's Multinational Direct "How Publishers Build Sales and Profits in Foreign Markets" conference, international mailers Institutional Investor, International Airline Passengers Association and National Geographic showed how they tested premiums, offers and creative in their international mail packages. Here's a down-and-dirty look at what worked, what didn't and why.
•The Institutional Investor's double postcard U.K. control was pulling a good response, but its pay up was low. It decided to test the same subscription offer—a complimentary issue—in a #73⁄4 monarch envelope with a BRE. It found the monarch lowered its gross response but increased its net with pay up and beat the control. According to Wendy Frank, circulation director of Institutional Investor, the monarch-sized package beat the double postcard because it is a format seldom seen in the U.K.
•In yet another U.K. test, the Institutional Investor hired a U.K.-based agency to create a new package written exclusively for the U.K. market. The offer and the size of the package were the same as the current monarch-sized control, but the appeal spoke to a U.K. audience. Surprise! The U.S. control won. "Good copy will work, no matter if it's created in the U.S. or the U.K.," says Frank.
•Still looking to increase pay up, the magazine decided to test pricing in local currencies throughout Europe and Asia—where it previously offered only U.S. dollar prices. By offering its subscribers the ability to pay in the local currency, it increased both its pay up and net even though currency transactions had added to its overhead.
•Lastly, the magazine tested offering a premium—a day planner—in both its domestic and international markets. The premium did well domestically but pulled poorly in Europe. Frank attributes the success of the premium in the U.S. to its being printed in U.S. English and including U.S. holidays. Why did it bomb internationally? A European audience didn't feel the premium related to the product, explains Frank.
International Airline Passengers Association
•The International Airline Passengers Association books air travel and negotiates hotel rates for international business travelers. It also offers six levels of travel accident insurance for all types of transportation. The current control listed the six levels of insurance on its order form, starting with the lowest level with the remaining five in ascending order. In the test package, the copy was flipped and the highest, most expensive insurance was listed at the top of the order form with the remaining levels listed in descending order. The test package saw a 24-percent lift in Europe, a 30-percent increase in the Middle East and a 9-percent decrease in Africa.
•In another mailing for its travel accident insurance, IAPA measured response to several offers in Europe and the Middle East. It tested its control with standard pricing against a 15-percent discount off the standard rates and its standard pricing with a premium. The premium was a diskette containing a database of 5,000 hotels offering discounted rates. In Europe, the test package with discounted rates pulled better than both the control and the premium. In the Middle East, the premium beat the control, while the discounts depressed response. "It has been our experience in the Middle East that discounts cheapen the product," explains Steve Pinches, IAPA's general manager.
•Due to the rising cost of paper and international postage, IAPA was looking to decrease its costs to create and mail its package. By using a lighter paper stock, it reduced the package from 51 grams to 35 grams without losing any elements (an outer envelope, return envelope, one-page letter and color leaflet). The result: Response wasn't significantly affected, but IAPA's return on investment (ROI) increased because the cost to produce the package decreased.
National Geographic Society
•The National Geographic Society had successfully used a world map as a premium in its international control for two years. To see if it could save on the additional postage required to mail the premium, it tested the package minus the premium and deleted all premium references from the offer and envelope teaser copy. The test mailing experienced a drop of 20 percent in response rates. Even after tallying the production savings gained by omitting the premium, the test was still a loser.
•In a mailing to Latin America, National Geographic tested an all Spanish-language package against an all English-language package and a hybrid printed in both Spanish and English. The hybrid pulled the best.
•In the U.K., National Geographic tested its U.S. control —tweaked for the British market—against an adaptation that contained the same inserts but was slightly more upscale. The envelope resembled an invitation and was of a better quality paper stock than the current U.S. control. According to sources at National Geographic, Europeans tend to respond better to a slightly more upscale look. It was right: The upscale adaptation pulled 20-percent better than the U.S. control.
In the pages that follow, you will find numerous international suppliers ready to assist you in every facet of international direct marketing—from testing to roll out. Give them a call, and don't forget to tell them Target Marketing sent you!