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How to Maximize Your Campaign's ROI

March 29, 2015

You’ve identified your target audience, designed a stylish and eye-catching custom postcard and perfected your headlines and copy. Time to start sending your direct mail campaign, right?

Not so fast. While it can be tempting to start mailing your direct mail postcards as soon as you’ve worked out your targeting and finished your design, doing so could end up costing you far more in lost sales than it generates in immediate results.

One of the keys to effective direct marketing is testing. By testing every aspect of your campaign, from your targeting to the design elements used in your postcard, you can achieve a higher response rate and increase your return on investment.

Ignore testing and you’ll undoubtedly generate some results, but your total return on investment will likely be far lower than it would be if you had tested your direct mail campaign on a smaller audience before launching it.

Read on to find out how you can test your postcard elements using a small audience before scaling your campaign. We’ll also share an easy way to test postcard elements and determine the optimal design and copy before you start mailing.


How important is your design and copy for success?

Have you ever heard of the 40-40-20 rule? This old school rule of direct marketing might not be as well known as it once was, but it’s a solid foundation for working out how much influence each element of your campaign has on its success.

The 40-40-20 rule is simple: on average, your target audience determines 40% of your campaign’s success, your offer determines an additional 40%, and the design and copy used in your business postcards determines the remaining 20 percent.

The percentages aren’t exact (DM News offers a more detailed breakdown of the 40-40-20 rule) but they’re a good guide to the importance of design and copy. Effective design and copy can be the difference between $80,000 in revenue and $100,000.

Once you’ve delivered your postcards to their target audience, it’s too late to make any changes to your creative. This makes it essential that you test your design and copy early using a small audience to perfect these elements for your live campaign.


Testing your postcard elements using a small audience

The best way to test your postcard’s design and copy is using a small A/B test. This type of testing involves splitting your audience into two equal halves and sending a different variation of your postcard to each in order to assess its response rate.

The key to effective early-stage A/B testing is to focus on big differences. Instead of testing a subtle change, such as a slight difference in wording between two different headlines, test large changes to learn which type of postcard is most effective.

For example, testing a question headline against a statement headline (“Our cleaning solution will make your kitchen look brand new!” vs. “Can your current kitchen cleaner do this?”) is a great way to quickly learn which format is more effective.

Other good elements to test include copy, images and calls to action. You could even test two different angles on your offer – for example, a benefits-focused postcard vs. a more subtle postcard that explains what it’s like to use your product or service.

Your initial A/B tests should be targeted to a small audience. If you’re mailing your postcards to a local audience, testing 100-500 people is ideal. If you’re targeting a broader audience and expect a lower response rate, use a slightly larger test audience.


Pre-launch testing can massively increase your campaign’s ROI

It’s easy to think of pre-launch A/B testing as an optional extra – something that can improve your campaign but isn’t necessary. While pre-launch testing isn’t essential, it can produce a massive, measurable increase in your campaign’s response rate.

Every great direct marketer knows that the primary goal shouldn’t just be to get a response, but to get the maximum response that the campaign budget allows. Conduct a few pre-launch tests and you’ll quickly learn how to maximize your campaign’s ROI.