Tips for efficient and accurate mail tracking

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Craig Simpson
Craig Simpson

If a campaign is not tracked properly, you could end up wasting thousands on your next mailing. As an individual in direct mail, you spend a great deal of money to send out your sales ma­terial. You want to learn as much as possible from each campaign so that you can maximize the effectiveness of each mailing. Care­ful tracking will show you exactly what works and what doesn't.

Obviously, you must track the number of leads/orders that respond to your campaign. Not only do you need to know the overall response from the mailing, but you also need to know how many leads/orders were in response to each mailing list and each sales piece (if you are using more than one).

If you are testing a new sales piece against your current control piece, you need to know which one performed better and which lists it performed better on. For example, let's say you are send­ing a business opportunity offer and you're using two different sales pieces; a 16-page letter and a 32-page magalog. You may find that the 16-page letter outperforms the 32-page magalog to the business opportunity lists, but not to lists outside the business opportunity category. Therefore, you might conclude that it is more profitable to mail the magalog to one group of lists, and the 16-page letter to just the targeted business opportunity lists.

In order to properly track each version of the sales piece and each list, it's critical that you do a good job of list segmentation. Keeping track of the list history is also impor­tant for knowing which lists to order in the future. By keeping a list history, you track the performance of one specific list over the course of all the times you've mailed to it.

Let's say you rent the “Simpson Direct Stock Advisor” list for every mailing you send out. How did it do when you mailed it in first quarter? Do you see a lift in response when you mail it in one quarter versus another? Do you see a decline in response the more frequently you mail it?

Keeping track of list history helps you identify which lists per­form consistently well, which lists are on a downward trend, and whether any lists work better in one season than others. For example, a few years ago I mailed several campaigns to five or six different lists that were directed to farmers. By looking at the list history, I discovered that the farmers did not respond well during their harvest season, but they were very responsive dur­ing their off season. Had I not tracked the list history, I would not have mailed to the farming lists again due to the lack of response. List history reveals details that help you know the best times to mail to specific lists, and when to avoid them.

Craig Simpson is a freelance direct mail consultant. Reach him at


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