We all know the importance of balancing hard work with rest, and a little bit of play. That’s true in direct marketing too. As a staple in marketing practice, it’s essential that tried and true techniques be maintained, such as: targeted direct mail, personalization, and supplemental advertising. Each of these, however, has endless variation that can potentially impact results for better or worse.
Innovators know that advancement comes through experimentation or “play.” Sometimes, this is the fun part – trying out new technology, participating in the latest buzz. Even when it’s about less exciting components, it’s still critical in the process of continual improvement. Often, it’s even necessary to avoid diminishing return.
Test and Learn is a formal, disciplined process followed by companies to test new ideas on a smaller scale to estimate impact in larger deployment. In practice, a good test strategy will uncover new ideas that will generate incremental results. The difficult part is that many more times, results will be in favor of current control. In those cases, it’s easy to declare failure and return to current practice. This is a mistake. Courage, persistence, and discipline are key in maintain successful test & learn programs.
Some tips for developing your test and learn program:
Like Research & Development, the product of time and money spent is sometimes just the learning of what doesn’t work. Remember, these are also valuable lessons.
Research emerging technology and techniques then apply them to your product and customer base.
What are the quantitative results of QR Codes, PURLs, and mobile optimized content? Is it buzz or is it real? Find out!
Experiment in basic social strategies that capitalize on viral impact and returns.
Combining traditional targeting with social influence can exponentially increase response rates.
Test new data sources and the use of demographics, lifestyle and behavioral information for targeting.
Segmentation models and data append give easy access these and other attributes.
Test various degrees of personalization
Including highly variable, full color digital print or personalized landing pages with variable text, images, and offers.
Ensure that the test strategy is properly aligned
with control groups to understand the true lift in performance or “net lift”.
Focus on true ROI and lifetime value.
Response rates, conversion, and cost can’t be considered independently. Sometimes, a solution with increased unit cost will deliver significantly higher return per dollar spent or attract more profitable customers.
With all this to consider in “play,” finding the right balance between exploration and the known performance of current strategies can be difficult. It’s critical to establish budgets and predetermine what factors will result in large-scale rollouts and, which will shift spend to new ideas. Design of experiment techniques such as Multivariate Testing will maximize the learning within test groups, resulting in more efficient use of budget.
Test and learn should be a part of every budget, daily execution, and development lifecycle, so…
Be daring (but disciplined) and remember to play.
If you are interested in all of the facets of Big Data, register here. With the right partner, Campaign Optimization, Multivariate DOE, and digital channels coordinated with full color digital print, testing dozens or even hundreds of variations within a single campaign become manageable and practical.