Think Big when Testing

There are numerous articles related to testing. So why publish yet another list?

For one, this list disagrees on some points made by other marketers. The other relates to the length of the list.

The shorter the list, the easier it is to remember and apply.

When discussing testing with one of my respected fellow direct marketers, I mentioned that companies really hire direct marketing consultants to advise them of what to test. Experienced direct marketers should know that time, money and resources to test and analyze results are always limited. In this context, consultants should know what testing scenarios are most likely to succeed.

In my opinion, here are the primary objectives of direct response testing.

  1. Improve results - beat existing controls that consistently yield the allowable cost per sale or cost per lead.

  2. Scalability - make sure that successful tests deliver significant rollout potential in order to maximize revenue.

  3. Breadth - test broadly to uncover breakthrough opportunities as quickly as possible.

  4. Media synergies - test media combinations that lift response to penetrate target markets more cost effectively.

  5. Quantifiable results - make sure your test quantities provide enough quantity to analyze the backend results reliably.

The area that breeds significant conflict for professional direct marketers is "testing broadly".

My take is that marketers need to concentrate on the big things rather than small incremental improvements that rarely beat existing controls. The differences are often less than 5-10% in lift. 

Focus rather on breakthrough opportunities that beat controls by at least 20-50%. Doing so still isolates small incremental lifts as a by product.

In large programs, it is a waste of time trying to figure out if that 4 page letter outputs a 2 page letter. Or adding a lift note increases response by 5% or even 10%. These mini steps take too long. The market will change during the one to two year period it takes to test all of these things.

Think big and resist the temptation to over think the small stuff. Small yields small results. Big, on the other hand, brings business changing new opportunities.

Posted on September 30, 2009 and filed under Consulting, Direct Marketing Strategy.