Transition to Digital Printing Enhances Direct Mail Testing

There are many benefits that accompany the switch from conventional production to digital printing platforms. The high level of personalization is a primary one and has proven to be extremely effective in mailings. Our customers understand how valuable a relationship is with their customers, and how personal communications strengthen that bond.

With that being said, many of our clients are interested in leveraging the dynamic variability digital printing offers. This includes strengthening their ROI, gaining more measurable means of testing and targeting specific consumers within their mailing list. But change of any kind can be a bit daunting, so we are often asked to explore how the transition from conventional production to a digital platform will impact clients’ bottom line.

There are several considerations that should be evaluated before the switch to digital is made. One of the most important decisions is determining how variable testing will be used. Like my colleague Mike Ertel stated in a post earlier this month on measuring direct mail ROI, direct mail has consistently proven to be the most measurable channel available. From Gross Response Rates, Cost per Lead, and Conversion Rates to Lifetime Value and more, direct mail has the ability to demonstrate its worth in a ‘numbers-don’t-lie’ way.

The introduction of digital printing has fine-tuned this process even further by offering the option of using multivariate testing, which allows us to identify the exact element (ex. call outs, headline, colors, etc.) that drives the greatest ROI among key market segments. The technology is here and the results are proven, but how you conduct your multivariate testing will impact the results significantly.

By slowly incorporating variable elements into a piece, you are able to more accurately pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. Each test acts like a building block that can be compiled to make the most effective mail piece possible —and be able to prove with data what part of your mailpiece is helping drive your customers to action. This process may take longer than producing a test with multiple changing variables, but doing it right is worth the extra time and pays off in the end.

Digital printing offers endless testing opportunities, but the results of those tests will not pay dividends unless you test correctly. Clients new to digital printing often feel obligated to change as many elements as possible because they can. This can cause the testing results to be less conclusive. It is important to keep in mind that as the number of variables increase, so does the complexity of asset and data management. Typically, the best approach is to take small, incremental steps that can be measured and work your way up.

The advice I give is to start by identifying what attributes may have the greatest impact on results. Some critical elements to consider with variable testing include:

  • Gender appropriate or geographic driven imagery
  • Page layout testing: element location, offer treatments, benefit order, call to actions, color pallet, etc.

Remember that each campaign is unique and should be looked at by what the service or product offers and how best to build a relationship with the potential customer. If you’re not sure where best to start, contact us to learn more about what the transition to digital printing can do for you and to discover how to make the most of your multivariate testing. Our experience has taught us which variables make the greatest impact in specific vertical markets.

Blog Author

Mike Dietz
Director of Creative Services, graduate of St. Cloud State University and IWCO Direct team member for more than 12 years. Personal business philosophy: “Beautiful design is fantastic, but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter.” Proud father who enjoys spending time with family, golfing and is a life-long Minnesota Vikings fan.

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One Response

  1. MD says:

    Well said. Ideally, one would want each campaign to build upon one another to get better and better results over time. I know your team’s methodology is very good at that and the numbers prove it!

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