Marketers have always struggled with ways to measure ROI in their advertising and direct mail expenditures. Tossing ad dollars into the wind to see where they land does not provide a sustainable level of comfort for today's CMO.
Surveys suggest that marketers who engage in consistent, effective testing can derive 60% better results. "Big data" is playing a bigger role in testing and assessing ROI across multi-channel and direct mail expenditures, and technology is the driver. While split testing ads and direct mail pieces has been utilized for some time and provides a decent opportunity for base level testing, digital printing technology is allowing us to take several steps further with our customers in testing with direct mail.
Multivariate testing with direct mail and corresponding response mechanisms provides our marketing clients with even deeper insights into what works and for whom. Beyond utilizing two different designs in a basic split, or A/B test, multivariate testing incorporates many different design elements, images, and response options that allow us to test and measure responses within differing target market variables. These elements can be as simple as a phone number vs. a PURL (personalized URL), or as complex as subtle changes in color and paper.
The beauty of having the latest variable data digital printing technology is that it allows for image and text personalization. What's more, tracking the response per variation gives valuable, measurable preference data that can be used for future campaigns and offerings. For example, one direct mail piece may contain an 800 number whereas the other may feature a PURL. Data could show that the 800 number resonated more with men between the ages of 58 and 72 who live in the southwest, whereas the PURL resonated more with women between the ages of 34 and 48 who like golf and live in the mid-Atlantic region.
They key to testing, measuring, and tracking responses with campaigns that often utilize multi channels is to also vary the response mechanism. In this process, not only is the printed or digital response channel piece varied, the mechanism for responding and gathering data is varied for cross testing. The mechanism can include simple signup forms, landing pages, websites, call centers and other platforms that not only have varying methods for gathering responder data, but varying rates of success among market demographics.
So, when planning single or multi channel campaigns that utilize direct mail and printed pieces as components, remember that the sky is the limit when it comes to using digital printing technology to incorporate multiple testing variables. Testing, measuring and tracking the response to your offerings can start small and grow to be as large as "big data" itself.