Test your way to insert media success

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Test your way to insert media success

There's no question that insert media can be a cost-effective, potentially lucrative marketing channel. But to see success, testing different programs is essential. Four industry pros weigh in on what to look for.

Hillary Taylor
Account executive, management, RMI Direct

When considering new test programs, it is best to test higher quantities in fewer programs to ensure verifiable results. This provides the foundation for future expansion of the pro­grams and the basis for response analysis.

For best returns, opt for programs whose audience has symmetry to your client base. Look beyond the datacard and ask meaning­ful questions – you may be surprised by what you learn. Case in point: we manage several middle-America package insert programs pertaining to a traditional male interest. They consistently deliver high responses when presented with female offers such as jewelry, cosmetics, etc. Why? Our audience is mar­ried and the spouse views the offers. If the demographics are similar but the gender is wrong, ask a simple question and you may have a perfect fit.

If you see this kind of potential in an insert program, work with your broker and creative team to design a test offer and see if it works for your objective. Go beyond the vertical to find those out-of-the-box ideas that bring a sensible balance to your campaign.

Select programs that offer flexibility in cost and operation. While it's no secret that this economy has made everyone more nego­tiable, many programs still have fixed costs that cannot be discounted. However, most programs offer some flexibility in schedul­ing, delivery, placement and price. Present your needs openly and honestly. Most insert media specialists will welcome the opportu­nity to establish a partnership with you.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Testing out-of-the-box ideas may yield surprisingly strong results


Gail Henry
EVP and GM, Leon Henry Inc.

If you're going to get involve in the lucra­tive insert field, you're going to have to test if you want to see success.

First of all, you need to test smart — which means testing with a proven insert wherever possible. Test statistically reliable numbers relative to your offer, and test with no more than two copy approaches.

Test as many programs initially as your budget allows. But still, use one insert, keeping in mind that you want to test the medium and not the message.

Make sure to test new programs, along with the tried and true. And, ask lots of questions — the better informed you are, the more likely you will be successful.

Also, use the right sources: Have the right printer, direct mail consultant and mailing house working for you.

Be sure to key by program. Key in such a way that you can research how and when your inserts were distributed. Obtain an insert sample upon receipt and upon completion.

Pay the right price. Pick the best pro­grams for your offer and then decide on the right ones based upon the top price you are willing to pay.

Finally, use a broker, don't do it yourself. It's tough and unnecessary. Ask lots of ques­tions. The better informed, the more likely you will be successful.

For all the success stories, the package insert field is just like the other forms of direct response marketing — it is a numbers game. Expect less and you'll get more.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Test with one piece of creative — you're testing the medium, not the message


Rob Stanton
VP of businessdevelopment,Stanton Direct Inc.

The biggest mistake made by insert new­comers is their failure to understand what a test should accomplish. Testing is a learning experience. Realize that because of small quantities, testing costs are higher than future rollouts. However, all adverse risk should be minimized to use a test budget wisely. Here is some advice on how to manage such risk.

Know your allowable “per customer” acquisition cost. Response rates vary depend­ing on the program type, offer, and prod­uct price point. Educated assumptions of response targets can be derived from this.

Build specific creative for the channel. The offer and creative must capture attention imme­diately and use both sides of the insert.

Commit to more than one test phase up front. Walking away after the first test wastes a valuable investment. Work with your broker to choose three or four test programs for each test phase. Ideally, the distribution of these different programs should occur within the same time frame.

Give suitable time to read results. Insert media's scalability and cost-effectiveness makes it a great choice as a targeted print channel, but it requires a patient ramp-up.

Analyze customers generated from insert media against your house file. You need to know how these customers differ in demo­graphics, average sale, and life value.

When the economy is challenging, expand­ing acquisition channels can be key to survival. And, the right perspective on a new channel ultimately saves time and money.

THE TAKEAWAY:
Testing takes time, but the scalability of insert media makes it worth it


Shawn Anne Buttschau
Senior director, insert and print media, ParadyszMatera

Testing is a particularly relevant topic for direct marketers, especially in current market conditions. A smart test strategy can actu­ally limit the potential negative effects on quarterly or annual performance. Learn­ing how different offers, creative treatments and formats impact performance enables informed, dynamic and responsive plan­ning. Program and targeting testing expands universe potential; building diversity among insert media sources.

Testing can also extend the life of your control. Some direct marketers use a fre­quency strategy, resting periodically to avoid fatigue. Testing can yield multiple strong performers, making a rotation strategy an alternative to sacrificing volume. Here are some tips for an effective testing strategy.

Balance what you want to learn with over­all campaign performance. Keep testing to a reasonable percent of total campaign vol­ume. Test the minimum quantity to establish statistically significant performance results. Never roll out with an untested program, creative, format or offer.

Prioritize tests according to which deliv­er the greatest impact. Consider cost and response improvements, and only test what can be rolled out. Test head-to-head against a proven control, and split the volume as evenly and randomly as possible.

Finally, isolate the test variables. Every­thing but the tested element should remain consistent. Test new programs with the con­trol offer, creative and format.

THE TAKEAWAY:
By testing inserts, you can identify multiple strong performers

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