Test Big or Go Home!
Why Small Tests Miss the Mark
American humorist Will Rogers once quipped that “even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
This quote is especially relevant when it comes to direct mail testing. You see, every direct mail campaign should include some form of test – be it offers, lists, copy or design.
Test big for statistically-significant results
Here’s how I recently advised a direct mail newbie on this very point.
“Rob” was the owner of a small yet growing nutritional supplement company. Most of his business was online and through Amazon, but he wanted to take his company to the next level. So he hired us to advise and create his very first direct mail campaign.
Nutritional supplement buyers tend to be 50+ years of age and typically respond extremely well to direct mail. And with our vast experience with natural health and beauty copy and design, I knew we could create a strong campaign for him.
We created a direct mail package with a very compelling offer, and chose specific lists targeted to his nutritional supplement audience. We also picked two covers to run an A/B split test.
Then, Rob surmised that a small mailing of 20,000 pieces would be sufficient to determine whether or not his product would do well in mail. Plus, it kinder to his budget, too.
Here’s why I told him that this approach is doomed to fail: limited testing means limited learning.
I spend plenty of time strategizing with clients about A/B cover testing, offers, formats and more. But all this testing strategy is fruitless with a small-quantity mailing, which will not provide information to help you determine whether or not your product is ready for roll-out.
Quantity essential in crowded categories
You see, competitors are likely to be mailing to the same prospects as you – often at the very same time. This can lead to “category clutter,” which can depress overall response. This is true in everything from supplements to the Fintech space.
In turn, this makes it even tougher to glean some meaningful responses. On the flip side, more quantity provides you with more actionable results at a lower cost.
You’ll lose money and valuable info with small-scale testing
Digital marketing and direct mail have similar goals and precepts. But there are differences.
For instance, with outbound digital it works well to start small and grow campaigns iteratively. Not so much direct mail, where it’s wise to test liberally to understand what’s working.
Direct mail can deliver more quality leads resulting in higher conversion and ROI. But again, it has to be done strategically.
How the numbers stack up
In general, small print quantities have a lot stacked against them because the fixed costs of creative and program management make ROI goals tough to attain.
Truth be told, direct mail comes with a steep price tag. There’s the printing, the list, postage and cost of creative. But here’s the thing, when you increase the mail quantity, it has the potential to cut the cost per package by 50%!
Plus, when it’s time to tally up the analytics, the ROI on small mailings is seriously compromised due to high per-piece costs.
Limited testing won’t give you the profitable response that you want.
The higher the response rate, the more confidence you’ll have in the results. Make sure each test “cell” contains enough mailings to give you statistically reliable results.
There are online calculators that can help you run the numbers and evaluate statistical significance. The math adds up: more quantity provides you with more actionable results at a lower cost.
So what’s the perfect test size?
For direct mail acquisition, I usually suggest that clients test a minimum of 50,000 pieces. If you are mailing to house lists only, 40,000 is probably sufficient.
Many of my clients will tell me: “I’d like to do a test.” Here’s what I tell them: testing isn’t a one-shot thing, but rather an ongoing process that builds a long-term competitive edge. And above all, it has to be done strategically.
With over 25 years’ experience as a nutritional supplement copywriter, I know the devil is in the details. When you hire Doyle Direct, you’re getting a team of expert health and beauty writers, graphic designers, and marketers who can deliver a direct mail campaign that sells.
Just drop us an email at Donna@CopyByDoyle.com or call 732-778-5760. We’re here to help.