Some marketers are doing better than six months ago, but many are not. Hard times, of course, beg for change rather than standing pat. I spoke recently with some leading copywriters and direct marketers about new ways that companies can go to boost direct mail response levels:
1. Test the right things (for the numbers not only don't lie, they help)
Perhaps more personalization and better premiums is the answer? Or switching to a self-mailer and losing the freemiums? Or fusing the letter into a reply form page to slim the mailer down? Or going four-color with the outer envelope rather than the plain white direction?
The only way to know what will work best is to test. "The smart marketers will test as much of the above as their budgets allow and not assume that what works today will still be the best format and approach in a year or two from today," says Bob Bly, copywriter and author.
Pat Friesen, copywriter and consultant, agrees completely. "Direct marketers who use the mail need to continue to test and read their results. Testing shows you what works best—most cost-effectively—and it isn't always the cheapest format or the lowest postal rate."
She gives an example of a test package she wrote. It happens to cost significantly more to produce than the control. "But the extra cost wasn't for glitz, glamour or gimmicks. It was an investment in a strategically sound format," says Friesen. And based on early front-end response and early back-end results, it's on track to beat the control based on its ultimate ROI.
"Sometimes you need to spend more to make more. The beauty of direct marketing is that numbers never lie. No matter how many awards a great campaign wins, if it doesn't meet financial objectives, who cares about the awards?" she concludes.