August 20, 2007
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By Anne Holland, Content Director
I was listening to a presentation by Rab Govil of Naehas yesterday, when one stat really made me sit up. His agency tested mailing follow-up campaigns for two different B-to-B clients. In both cases, they sent the same offer to the same list twice in a row, waiting roughly three-four weeks between mailings. Nothing startling there except for the fact that both campaigns were sent via postal mail.
Now, we all know postal direct mail still works, and, in fact, can work exceptionally well in these days of email overload. But it's so much more expensive per piece that many marketers I know have cut back on follow-up mailings, which were routine 10-15 years ago. Instead, they may invest in multiple media channels, such as search and email.
Here's what startled me: in both cases, the results for Rab's second postal mailing were far closer than I expected to the response rates for the original wave. For example, one original wave got a 1.90% response rate with the follow-up achieving 1.46%.
In the old days, you would expect a second wave to maybe get 50% of the first wave's success. If you mailed them closely together, perhaps arriving in the mailbox within 10 days of each other, the second wave would drop to only 25%-30% of the first, but the first would leap higher in compensation. (We assumed it was the "reminder" factor where recipients would mail back the first wave's reply card when reminded by the second wave.)
Anyhow, what this new response data may indicate is that if you have a direct postal mail campaign that's doing fairly well, you should immediately roll out a second test wave. Key: only mail the second wave to your best lists from your first wave. Never invest in trying to pry responses out of a hitherto nonresponsive list (a.k.a. "sending good money after bad").
For your best response, I suspect you should strike while the iron is hot and get that campaign into the mailbox within three weeks.
Production-wise, this could be a nightmare -- if your first piece was remotely complicated -- except, you don't have to use the exact same piece. In fact, a cheap-to-produce "reminder" postcard can work as well or even *better* than a fancier piece.
And the Internet Age is perfectly suited for reminder postcards because these days you can load up creative and lists online to a postcard specialist house for one-week turnaround, including printing and mailing. Plus, you can promote an online landing page URL (plus phone number, of course) for replies. (Note: I would never suggest doing away with a printed response form for fax or mailback in your first wave. In my experience you have to give people as many reply options as possible for best results.)
In his speech, Rab actually mentioned he had tested a campaign last year with both a multipage catalog-style self-mailer as well as a follow-up postcard. He got far less than 1% response rates from people who got either the postcard or the self-mailer. However the people who got both resulted in a 3.78% response rate.
Now, take that with a grain of salt, because, obviously, the people who got both were the core, most-worth-investing in, section of his list. So, you can't assume just any old list would see a giant leap with two mailings. However, if you have a core, consider investing more in them.
And. please, let me know how it works out. Are your direct postal mail response rates different in 2007 than they were in 1997?
Related links to this blog
Rab Govil's agency: