Outsource Solutions: Lettershops
The Proof Is in the Process
Personalization can boost response to a direct mail campaign because of its ability to establish a connection with each member of the target audience. But it can have the opposite effect if errors in the data or its presentation mangle the message.
One of the keys to executing a successful personalized direct mail campaign is working with your lettershop to create a proofing process that leaves no personalization element uninspected.
The variety of proofing methods available to direct marketers can be confusing, says Sylvia Konkel, vice president of marketing at EU Services, a full-service mailing facility in Rockville, MD. That’s why it’s important to discuss with your lettershop the proofing options it offers, communicating your needs for the type of campaigns you mail.
But regardless of the proofing process you develop, the two campaign aspects you will be verifying are the data and mailing set-up.
Before you even think about looking at page proofs, be sure your data are in order. For this, you need a data audit, also called a quality assurance report, says Konkel. This report confirms that the lettershop received the correct files, with the right records and keycodes. Additionally, the report will measure the accuracy and completeness of the records, as well as provide a breakdown by Bulk Mail Center/Sectional Center Facility to help assess opportunities for rate optimization.
Toni Bodle, production manager at Bernstein-Rein, a Kansas City, MO, advertising and direct marketing agency, notes that audits should include the mail file and all linked files, such as those that contain the data to be used to personalize each mailing.
After the audit and the data processing work, the next proofing step is the data dump. This report takes a look at the data input versus the data output, Konkel explains. For example, if your campaign features a salutation, check that the set-up of this text section has been constructed properly, i.e., “Dear Ms. Smith” versus “Dear Smith Ms.”