Test and Spy to Increase Your Fundraising Success
The following is an excerpt from "The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising," the 131-page report from Direct Marketing IQ. It includes 9 chapters, from leading fundraisers, on channel selection, messaging, direct mail, email, mobile, social media, multichannel renewal, multichannel testing and more. It also features 8 case studies on successful multichannel campaigns.
I always recommend that you be fierce with your testing, of which there are many different kinds. General "housekeeping" tests include one ask amount versus another, various incoming and outgoing postage types, and different reply envelopes. Those kinds of variables should be tested periodically because results can flip back and forth over time. It's not very exciting testing, but it's important to ensure your controls are still your controls. And as you add online donors and other media users to your direct mail program, you may find their giving patterns prompt you to give them different treatments.
Test to confirm your file segmentation strategy is optimal. As multichannel marketing evolves, your segmentation might need to change as well, so your test strategy should check on it occasionally.
Test as many new offers as your budget allows. If you can't afford many, test new packages to your existing donors before you try them on outside lists. If an offer won't work with your donors it's unlikely to work with prospects, either. And if at all possible, dedicate some money to inexpensive plate change fees to test your outer envelopes, because outers (especially) not only can kill a package but also sometimes will rescue it.
Also, be sure to test across channels. Figure out what works best for you with donors acquired online, offline and everything else in your multichannel mix.
On top of all that, test packages and ideas that take you outside your comfort zone. Resist the compulsion to turn every new idea back into your control. If you haven't had a total stink bomb in a year's worth of testing, that's an indication you're playing it too safe. You'll never find a supernova breakthrough by testing what amounts to "more of the same."