7 Rules to Testing in a Down Economy
During rough economic times, it's easy for those who control the budget to say that if response rates are down, they don't want to invest in testing—"You can't spend money if you're not making money." To certain executives, this actually makes sense. But others, the wise ones, know that the time to spend more marketing dollars is when sales are down.
It's true that there is a risk involved in testing new ideas in an effort to "beat the control" and increase response rates. Testing takes an investment in time and resources, often including additional funds. However, the outcome is often worth the risk.
You want to test, not only to increase your ROI, but also to learn. The more you know about what works the best, the better you can market to segments that emerge as your marketing programs evolve.
1. Start With the Basics
It's imperative to go back to the basics. Think about your business and marketing objectives and what you need to learn to improve. What variables will make the most difference in your results? Create a plan for your testing that will lead to methodical improvements.
Test only one element at a time, and use appropriate quantities to provide statistical significance. Or, if you are testing multiple elements, add separate test cells to your testing matrix. While this seems obvious to direct mail veterans, time and again we have clients who are confused about this. For example, if you test lists and offers at the same time within the same test cells, you will never know which element provided a lift.
Recognize the importance of your lists, offers/positioning, creative and the timing of your touches, in that order. No matter what the current economic conditions are like, lists still make up the majority of your marketing success—40 percent to 50 percent. Understanding this, along with the power of relevant offers (30 percent to 35 percent of your success) is critical to jump-start your response rates and lift your ROI.