Testing! A Direct Marketer's Strategic Advantage (1,075 words)
By Hallie Mummert
Being able to measure response and pinpoint the reasons for success gives direct marketers a leg up against general advertisers.
Testing is not an optional activity you can afford to cut out of your budget during lean times. When you look at testing as a luxury or an expense, you ignore the main advantage direct marketers can lord over brand-driven general advertisers: Concrete measurement that attributes response and sales to the campaigns responsible for generating these activities.
Think about it: You don't need to spend money on magazines, television channels or billboards that don't work because you can't pinpoint which medium or message was most responsible for your spike in sales of orange juice, cell phones or minivans.
You also don't have to stick with one offer or creative approach for every customer; careful segmentation and analysis of testing results allows you to identify the right message for the right person at the right time to produce the most economical sale.
If you're looking for reasons to help you protect your testing budget from mid-year cutbacks, the following reasons for why you can never stop testing should give you ample argument.
Reason No. 1: Testing builds your housefile.
If you prospect by renting lists, you're part of a direct marketing ecosystem that depends on acquisition to keep housefiles healthy and attrition-proof.
When enough marketers drastically cut back on prospecting, then housefiles shrink, the merge-purge produces fewer names, and the number of names to mail drops again. It's no wonder response is down: Everybody is mailing the same names time and again.
Also consider that your list rental income can be negatively impacted by a smaller housefile; fewer names to rent and more duplicates that match up against competitors' lists means less revenue in your pocket.