Challenge Your Direct Mail Package – Don’t be Afraid to Test

It can be tempting to keep using the same direct marketing plan you’ve had for years. Now, however, is the perfect time to try something totally new. Challenge your current control package by testing it against a new creative appeal.  If the test works, your fiscal year budget will reap the benefits.

What should you test?

While there are hundreds of tests you can deploy, first decide right now to test. Test a creatively different direct mail package (new format and design) against your control. In addition, test new letter copy, test different letters to different segments of your file, and consider different packages to those unique segments of your file too.

Tests that work for other fundraisers

I’ve had clients who dramatically increased their direct marketing efforts by testing a premium package against their tried and true control.  While more expensive, the premium package increased percent response, raised the average gift, and was more cost effective then the less expensive package.

I’ve had others who had great success testing a new creative to just their lapsed donors.  Others yet made dramatic improvements on their first year retention rates with an appealing new donor welcome package.

How to test inexpensively

One road block I hear from some clients is that they don’t have the budget to test brand new packages, after all they say, they’re more expensive. While it’s important to always include package test costs in your budget, there are many tests that don’t cost a lot of money.  Envelope color, gift array and copy tests are relatively inexpensive.

The important point to remember is to keep testing throughout the year. No matter how big or small.  You might find comfort in this:

Testing actually saves you money in the long run by ensuring that you’re not wasting funds on packages that are less cost effective and less responsive.

There’s nothing to fear.  The knowledge you gain from the responses of every test you track will allow you to learn what your donors like and don’t like. As you build on this knowledge, tweaking your direct mail packages as you go along, your organization will grow from every new experience.

Share with me your most successful test. Next week I’ll share with you my top 10 envelope tests.

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