Sylvan Learning’s Brent Hartley on Pushing Direct Mail Results
While Universal McCann’s Senior Vice President and Director of Forecasting Robert J. Coen, attributes the rise in Standard mail volume in the first quarter of 2006 to continuing reductions in telemarketing spending (see his June 2006 Insider’s Report), a little credit can go to brand advertisers getting more fully into the measurable marketing game. Brent Hartley, manager of direct mail marketing at Sylvan Learning, talked to Target Marketing this week about the Baltimore-based personalized learning services company’s increasing adoption of direct mail programs for lead generation and conversion. With roughly 250 corporate centers and more than 800 franchises, Sylvan Learning hopes to leverage direct response testing to learn quickly about how to improve results, reduce costs and continue to grow its business.
Target Marketing: What role does direct mail play in growing Sylvan Learning?
Brent Hartley: Direct mail is going through a period of tremendous growth for the company. It has come from being almost nonexistent to playing a key role in our lead generation and follow-up processes. We’ve gone from a strategy where broadcast dominated the lead generation activities, with direct mail being used to convert those leads to enrollment, to an approach where direct mail plays a greater role in that lead generation. And so our direct mail follow-up becomes more efficient because prospects have already responded to this medium. That helps us to lower our cost per inquiry and improve our response rates.
TM: What lists are you using to prospect via direct mail?
BH: The first prospecting direct mail campaign we did was last year, and it was to a single-modeled list. There was very little testing of lists, and we used a standard letter. Now, our typical prospect mailing uses three our four versions of a modeled list and over 20 sources for mail-order buyer lists, different continuity lists and so forth. We definitely see strong winners in each category … we tighten up the criteria each time we mail, so we can try to drive the response from those [lists] in the middle, and then we’ll cut ones that did not perform as well as we expected.