Bader Rutter

The four-letter word you should use more often

Here’s the situation: You have a fixed marketing budget and an unrealistic time frame.

You need to launch a new product line that requires a precision communications plan. It needs to deliver the results the sales teams and CEO expect while making you look like a rock star.

Then someone on your marketing team mentions the four-letter word “test.” Does dead silence fall over the strategic planning session while the word hangs in the air? Won’t someone reach up to grab it and turn its negative aura into a positive opportunity (which it is!) for the team?

To a successful marketer, the word test means two things: 1) time; and 2) money. Too often you have neither.

But testing is all about getting the right answers. And when you get it right, it can propel your career and validate your marketing methodology. You may think there’s no time or money, but odds are there are enough of both. If you can think of creative ways to incorporate at least one test into your next campaign, it will help optimize your future communications.

Here’s a quick multiple choice question for you:
What can you test to get some worthwhile results that won’t slow down the process or cost much more?

A) Audience segment
B) Frequency of communication
C) Content/copy edits
D) All of the above

The answer is D, of course. Recently, we’ve had some quick wins with mail, email and mobile marketing communications that allowed us to test, learn and then apply what we learned. The results have helped us reap the benefits of testing and identified proven best practices. Here are some findings:

Audience segment: For a recent campaign, the same dimensional lead-generation mailing was sent to two distinct audiences of customers and prospects. The message/offer, relevant to each audience, was different for each group. The prospect campaign generated a 23 percent response rate and the customer group achieved a 74 percent response rate. Consider dividing your audiences, whether it is based on geography, gender or best customers/lapsed customers, and see what resonates with each group.

Frequency of communication: A reminder email sent out two days after a recent survey communication lifted response by 18 percent. No extra cost, no extra work. And it yielded more results than the “one and done” approach. Especially in the case of email communication, don’t assume everyone saw your email the first time. Most consumers prefer email. However, they receive so many, it may take a few times to get noticed.

Content/copy edits: When we called out the customer’s state in the subject line (e.g., “How will X-situation effect you in [your state]?”), open rates increased from 25.7 percent to 29.2 percent. Even that +3.5 percentage point difference can mean a lot when you are reaching a segment size of more than 100,000 people; one of those incremental prospects can turn into a lifelong customer.

Can’t decide what to test?

Here’s a checklist of ideas to consider. Transform that four-letter word T-E-S-T into the positive three-letter word W-I-N for your next campaign by implementing some of these testing strategies.

This post was originally authored by Alexa Ganos, BR’s former group director of direct marketing.

Industry: Multi-Industry

Topic: Marketing


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