Taking Risks, Increasing Response
Five companies were asked to build models based on Assurity's data; they built matrix models that took into consideration both responders and converters. "In a matrix model, you look at both elements and try to find a balance between the two," says Mercer. "You want good responders so the phones keep ringing, but you want converters, too."
Of the models from the five modeling firms, four are in the mail, and one is still in process. "Of all the models we tested, we have just one that needs to be tweaked," says Mercer. "With the exception of that one, they're doing exceptionally well."
Sure, lists are important, data are important—but one of the most important ingredients in a successful modeling project is the involvement of the direct mail company itself. "In order for someone on the outside to create a model, Assurity had to pull together specific information from [its] current policyholders," says Hennerberg. "Steve was very quick to have the people inside his organization pull together that information. When the data came back to us after a few weeks of time with the modeling firms, Steve was quick to get on the phone and have a call with Laurie and Rachel and decide what to do. He gave us directions immediately to put those lists and creative into tests. It all happened so quickly because Steve was responsive and took action."
Assurity tested the new lists in a mailing for its whole life product, using the old creative as a control. The new lists resulted in an 11 percent increase in response rate.
The Communication Equation
Getting creative professionals, list brokers, modeling firms, and print and mail houses all on the same page in a project requires open communication. "Our list providers are constantly talking with IT, and IT is talking with consultants and list providers," says Hawkins. "It was what we'd wanted to do for a long time, but our prior consultant didn't allow that. It was turnkey, and he controlled all the vendors." Hennerberg didn't require that all the players—who he calls his "dream team"—funnel through him. "Steve knows who everyone is on the team," he says. "There are no hidden players, and we talk to each other quite often."