List Testing - Parameters & Strategies
Look Wide & Go Deep
When determining what to test, you have two ways to go: lists that are brand new to you or going deeper into lists you've mailed previously.
"Not only should you test different lists but test within lists— selections, recency, Nielsen counties," Kroll offers. These so-called "expansion tests" are where you go back into a file and dig deeper. "It's less risky than testing a new list out of the blue," he says, adding that there also could be opportunities for better discounts on a list because you're mailing more names.
When testing within lists, Schwartz says to consider testing major sources of names against one another and testing expires as well as hotlines. "See how deep you can go into a file. Those expires, for instance, are still direct-mail responsive names. They just haven't bought in a while," Schwartz says.
If you're looking for ideas of new lists to try, Kroll suggests mailers take a new look at testing compiled lists. Prices are typically 30 percent to 50 percent less, he notes, explaining that while compiled files don't perform at the same levels as response lists, "they don't perform at 30 percent to 50 percent less. So in terms of CPM, they can be very successful." Selectivity is the key to making compiled lists work, he adds.
On any list you mail—from housefile names to continuations to new tests—look beyond hotline names. "Consider testing inquiries, expires, 12- or 18-month names," Schwartz says.
On a final note, don't discount lists you've tested before and did NOT roll out to. It may pay to re-test lists, Kroll says, explaining, "It's 1998 and just because we tested it in '96 doesn't mean it won't work now. Lists change. Companies change, and that can result in a shift in the buyers."