3 Split Tests to Improve Your Direct Mail Results

If you want to increase your response rate, make sure you are ALWAYS testing something new.

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By Craig Simpson • Feb 2, 2017 Originally published Feb 2, 2017

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Of course you want better results from your mailings. The worst thing you can do is to become complacent and think the mailing piece you've got is "good enough." The best thing you can do is to keep making variations to your mailing piece, and then test the results.

A client of trying to "crack the code" on direct mail for his medical clinic sent out a tear-sheet mailing that resulted with marginal results. While my client didn't lose any money and he also didn't make any money. Actually, marginal results on your first mailing are not bad.

Months later, we recommended he do a split test, where he divide his list and mail the tear sheet piece to one part, and the new piece to the other part. When mailing a new sales piece I always recommend a split test.

By mailing a tear-sheet again against a new format, we could see if the new format was an improvement or not. By testing a new piece against something you have past results on you can be certain about which piece really works better be­cause you are mailing them at the same time to the same lists. The results will tell you what direc­tion to head in next.

Testing different aspects of your mail campaigns is critical to your marketing success. To get you started, here are three aspects of your direct mail campaign you can test. The results could help you significantly increase your response rate in future mailings.

Test Your Headline

The headline is one of the most important parts of the sales letter. If it doesn't get your prospects' atten­tion, they won't read the rest of the sales letter and won't respond to your offer. You only have about four seconds to get them to decide to read your letter.

Spend some time thinking of different headlines you can use. Make sure your headline "resonates" with your specific audience (for example, is age-appropriate). Also, consider if your headline is believable. Many people have heard "If it sounds too good to be true, then it is." If your headline promises too much, it may not be believable.

When you find a headline that you think will be more powerful than your current headline, set up an A/B Split test to compare their results.

Test the Teaser Copy on the Envelope

To get a sales letter opened, some mailers put teaser copy on the outer envelope. Teaser copy consists of words on the envelope that will make the reader want to open it and see what's inside.

The downside of teaser copy is that it screams "this is advertisement mail," and so it had better offer something interesting to get the envelope opened, now that it has revealed the letter is advertising.

I've tested leaving off the teaser copy totally (having a "blind" envelope), and that usually has worked best for me in mailing to "cold" prospects that don't know you. But, there are many cases where teaser copy has worked better. I have the most success when I use teaser copy mailing to a house file. You have to test no copy vs. copy to see what will work best for you.

Test a Different Offer

The offer is what the customer will get for respond­ing, and if it involves a purchase (rather than a free trial, for example), the cost of the product or service.Here are some things you can test with the offer:

  • Price
  • Bonus or premium
  • Different payment options
  • Response options (phone, fax, online, email, text)
  • Adding an offer end date

There are many more offer options, but these are the main ones that I test. The more you test, the more you will learn, and the better your response rate will be!

Craig Simpson

Author and Owner of Simpson Direct, Inc.

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution. He blogs at http://www.simpson-direct.com/blog/.

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