If you’re a driven direct marketer, it would certainly be a goal that your direct marketing would be performing better at the end of the year than it was at the beginning of the year. There is only one way that’s going to happen: experimentation and testing.
The idea of continual A/B testing of ads has been deeply ingrained in digital marketing for some time. Machine learning has added a more technically advanced way of testing and learning.
The same concepts can be brought into your direct mail. The only way your mail is going to perform better is if you have an overt strategy to try to make it better. You’re going to have to try stuff. Some of it may work, some of it may not work.
Jerry Montgomery of 5W Strategists employs a practice he calls MOM. Who doesn’t love MOM? In this case MOM is an acronym for “Monthly Optimization Meeting.” Jerry and his team have been doing very sophisticated direct mail testing for some names you would recognize for many years. Their stuff is good. More importantly, it’s always getting better.
Using the MOM model, the team sits down monthly, evaluates the results of previous campaigns, and brainstorms ideas they want to test. It is a true brainstorming exercise. Everyone is welcome to contribute. The ideas can test variables from any area: offer, data, creative, package, messaging/content, calls to action, and more. It becomes part of the culture of the company.
Incorporating this kind of culture can be challenging on a couple of levels. First, people need to be rewarded for experimenting. They can’t be afraid of repercussions if the tests don’t work. If you never try anything, you will never fail, and you will never succeed. Secondly, there needs to be a commitment to getting better all the time.
If acquisition is the goal, let’s look for approaches that increase the number of customers we can win and reduce the cost per acquisition. If retention is the goal, let’s develop ideas that we think will increase sales and margins to customers via increased frequency or increased spend. You get it.
What are the important metrics?
Where do we stand now?
What do we want to do? Then, what is the net impact of the test?
It’s all data driven. Numbers matter. Opinions don’t or shouldn’t.
One company we work with has developed a testing calendar for the whole year. They developed a solid list of objectives, then constructed tests designed to accomplish the heightened objectives.
If you’re going to develop a philosophy or culture that values testing, you need to promote the idea that anyone, employees and strategic partners, can and should bring their ideas forward. You need to formalize methods and systems to utilize and test these ideas.
At one customer’s Partner Awards Night a few years back, the Director of Marketing passed out awards to the suppliers who had the biggest impact on their sales that year. All night long you would heard the Director mention the specific ideas that had been brought forward. This made a big impression on us. It was apparent that they placed a high value on ideas.
So guess what we do. We bring them lots of ideas. That’s what happens when you tell people you want ideas and you reward them for the ideas. You get ideas and you advance the cause.
Then, you have to put them to work. That’s where testing comes in.