How to measure and test direct mail for better results

2 minute read

How to create an 80/20 test to improve results

In life, learning leads to growth. It’s no different for direct mail. Simple tests allow you to learn what works best. For your marketing to be as successful as possible, you should test regularly so you can find out what reaches your target, what resonates with your audience and what motivates your followers to act.

So how do you do it? For direct mail (DM) campaigns, testing starts when you set up parallel mailings. Here’s how:

Create a control group and a test group

Begin by splitting your data 80/20. If you’re using a data provider or a Canada Post Smartmail MarketingTM partner, they can do that for you. The 80 per cent control group will get a mailing based on what’s worked before – your proven results.

The 20 per cent is your test group. Keep this group small to make the most of your budget – while still generating relevant insights. Around 250 responses should be enough to give you reliable information.

The difference in responses between the test and the control groups tell you what parts of your campaign were successful.

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Choose one element to test

Even changing only one thing about your direct mail can provide useful information. By testing individual elements, you can better understand things like how customers make choices or which offers they prefer. Doing things differently can also reveal reactions to the style and structure of the mailing itself.

Test your DM format by comparing:

  • Self-mailer vs. outer envelope or a postcard vs. outer envelope
  • Oversize vs. standard size

Test your creative by comparing:

  • Short copy vs. long copy
  • Different calls to action, such as redeem online vs. in-store redemption
  • Different imagery options

Test your offers by comparing:

  • A percentage discount vs. a dollar reduction
  • A free offer vs. a value add
  • Different time limits

Make your DM trackable

It’s important to have a means to track your results so you can compare them. Tracking doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Consider including these:

  • Coupons and promo codes – Redemption rates tell you if your campaign is working.
  • MURLs – Provide a unique marketing MURL on your DM and track visits.
  • PURL – Create a unique landing page for everyone who receives your DM.
  • Dedicated email addresses, phone numbers and hashtags – These also allow you to monitor who engages with you.

Apply what you learn

Once you have the results from your 80/20 campaign, learn from them. Look for what resonated most with your audience and determine how you can apply that knowledge to future campaigns. Continue to test and learn – it will help you continually improve your marketing results over the long term.

Read more from our 'direct mail essentials' blog series

Direct mail can be a key part of converting your audience.

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