Direct Selling: Testing 101
Smart direct marketers use personalization, new covers, wraps and even dot whacks to test creative variations. Here are two ways you can use these techniques to test new creative.
1. To test an offer, highlight the special deals on the homepage or catalog front cover. This type of test requires only a change to your order form, which is easy to make. It’s even economical to test two, three or four offer versions.
2. Reactivate inactive buyers or inquiries through special e-mail campaigns, catalog cover changes or special wraps that bear a message like, “We miss you,” or “Don’t let this be your last mailing.” The key to testing such a reactivation message, however, is to test a special copy versus no copy, and measure the difference. You might even test offering a premium for reactivation.
Mistake #4: Not Testing Catalog Front Covers
It’s amazing how often I hear, “I’m too small to worry about cover testing. That’s something reserved for the big catalogers.” Would you consider testing covers if you saw a 10 percent difference in overall response? How about 20 percent? I’ve seen cover testing that has produced as much as a 35 percent difference in sales. On a side note, many larger multichannel companies also produce a separate prospecting catalog that has fewer pages and concentrates on winning items. The customer version is larger and offers considerably more product, especially new items.
Mistake #5: Not Testing Alternative Media To Grow Your Customer List
While list rentals historically have played a huge part in building the direct marketing industry, today’s successful marketers are looking at a wide variety of alternatives to help build customer lists. The Internet has created a complete paradigm shift in new customer acquisition as well as in finding new direct buyers who heretofore have not been attracted by direct mail or cataloging. List rental response rates are falling, and this historic media is becoming less and less productive. The cost of mailing is up again this year with postal and paper increases. But there is help. It’s in testing new or alternative media that doesn’t require postage or at least shares it. Consider the following list of alternative ways to build your buyer list without renting names:
• search engine marketing, both paid and free
• viral marketing campaigns
• affinity marketing efforts
• newspaper and magazine space ads (test a direct sale of a winning product in the ad versus generating an inquiry)
• best customer referrals
• insert media (package inserts, statement stuffers, ride-alongs, etc.)
• co-op mailings
• trade shows (especially for B-to-B mailers)
• broadcast media (television and radio)