The Heart of Direct Mail's Success
A small direct mail promotion can be prepared and distributed within weeks, which makes it perfect for testing prices, titles, offers and potential audiences. More elaborate and carefully targeted promotions still take less time to prepare than most other media. And response time to direct mail usually is quicker as well, allowing you to project the final results of a mailing more quickly and accurately than you can with most other advertising, except Web, SEO and email.
You must choose lists carefully since even the most dazzling creative message will get you nothing if it isn't directed to the proper audience. With direct mail, you can target your mailings more selectively than you can with most other media. You can build an advertising campaign with more confidence by testing small lists, then building to larger lists and then rolling out to a full list or lists — and you can use it as the primary driver to response. Spend twice the amount of time you currently allocate to mailing list research and watch what happens!
By testing and measuring, you can change most messages right away to take advantage of the information you have gleaned. You have complete control over the media, the audience and your offer.
As for trends, I strongly suggest a back-to-basics approach be adopted for your test plans next year. The late copywriter and consultant Ed McLean summed it up like this: "There are really two kinds of tests: 1) tactical tests; 2) approach tests."
Tactical tests are very thorough. They include the testing of lists, timing, non-duplication, application of geographical and "buyer" data to existing lists, as well as plotting response patterns by local area and region. Tactical tests are those aimed at zeroing in on your sales target more economically and efficiently. Tactical tests are tests your prospect or customer does not see.