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Direct Mail
May 26, 2023

Webinar Recap: Optimizing Direct Mail for Maximum Results

by 
Stephanie Donelson

We recently held a webinar where our VP of Solutions Engineering, Mike Tuffley, came on to talk about a favorite topic of his: direct mail optimization

He joined our host, Kim Courvoisier, to discuss some of the math and science behind optimization and how marketers can think strategically about testing to create more effective campaigns and continually optimize their direct mail while saving time and money.

Having worked hand-in-hand with our customers, Tuffley knows what kind of optimizations matter and what direct mail marketing optimizations can move the needle in terms of ROI.

Prefer to watch the recording? Find it here.

3 key takeaways from the Optimizing Direct Mail for Maximum Results webinar

Let’s dive in and share some key highlights from the webinar on optimizing direct mail marketing.

Key takeaway #1: Optimization is a journey, not a destination

“At a high level, optimization is a journey, not a destination. As soon as you walk out of that store with your new cell phone, it was obsolete before you bought it. Optimization is a way by which we are going to challenge assumptions,” said Tuffley. 

Optimization means adapting to and embracing change based on data. Optimization is the journey of continuous improvements, most often done through experimentation and testing, to drive even better results than the previous iteration of a campaign. 

Courvoisier brought up the analogy of Formula 1 racing cars and how every inch must be created with intention and purpose for a racecar to perform well. It’s a journey of making small tweaks over time to get the car to perform at a higher level, and the same can be said for marketing optimizations. 

As Tuffley noted, “At its heart, optimization is about finding the maximum of an equation.”

Key takeaway #2: Find optimization opportunities through testing

As marketers, we’re data-driven people. We love getting data, especially from A/B testing. But we know testing can be difficult, costly, time-consuming, and slow to implement and iterate on.

Testing can be critical for finding optimization opportunities. Courvoisier shared stats from the 2023 State of Direct Mail about areas marketers want to improve on in their campaigns that include:

  • Design, copy, and calls to action
  • Better integration with other digital efforts
  • Adopt new technologies
  • Increase personalization

So, she posed the question to Tuffley: What advice would you give them when thinking about testing their campaigns?

He replied, “It’s really about thinking like a scientist. Identify a problem. Or, maybe, a knowledge gap or some sort of unmanifested opportunity. Use that to inform a hypothesis.”

Tuffley went on to give an example of setting up the A/B test in the direct mail campaign:

  • The hypothesis is that customers are more inclined to respond to personalized offers. 
  • Then, design a test. The scientist would create an experiment or an A/B test. Personalized vs. a generic, general offer.
  • We want to make sure we have proper controls in place, such as the same general offer being used and that both audiences are using first-party customer data.
  • Then we’re going to use a statistically significant sample size to have the confidence that our conclusion is valid. 
  • Finally, make sure all the elements of the experiment are measurable. 

Courvoisier shared a success story from thredUP and its A/B test in a reactivation campaign sent to customers that had unsubscribed from email. The test had a clear winner and allowed thredUP to continue engaging those customers on a different channel. thredUP can now use that data to optimize future direct mail marketing campaigns.

Tuffely added, “I am definitely guilty of unsubscribing from email to reduce my inbox congestion. To me, email is for timely action. But it’s not reflective of any intention that I want to stop my interaction with that company!” He also shared his own story of unsubscribing from a company’s email marketing messages but taking action on a piece of direct mail.

Recommended reading: How thredUP increased ROI by 128% by A/B testing intelligent direct mail

Key takeaway #3: When it comes to the process of direct mail testing and optimization, think RVA

Tuffley and Courvoisier spent some time discussing RVA when it comes to direct mail optimizations.

  • Recency: When was the last test? What will the frequency of ongoing testing be?
  • Velocity: How long does the test take? How many people are involved?
  • Accuracy: How are the results measured? Where has the most improvement been? 

“It’s really about how accurate my data is. Is the audience size sufficient to be statistically significant? We want to make sure that some things are being held constant so that there are proper controls in place. And, are all these things measurable? Making sure that if we have links, QR codes, redirects, that they’re passing the appropriate UTM parameters so that we understand that response rate for attribution,” said Tuffley. 

When it comes to making optimizations, he added, “How long does it take to design and ship one of these campaigns? Where can we identify process efficiencies that can be improved? We want to know who is going to be performing the analysis and when? Making sure that we’ve given time for the campaign to land in-market and we can collect all the data that we need for analysis accurately.”

As Courvoisier noted, “When it comes to intelligent mail, it’s essential to maximize its potential.”

Q&A recap

Our attendees asked some great questions during the webinar:

Q: Does Lob integrate with any marketing automation tools? We would like to A/B test a campaign and see our results in Marketo.

A: Absolutely! Marketo is a great example, as we have an out-of-the-box integration already. 

Tuffley added, “Even if your marketing automation is a bit behind the times, don’t worry. Almost every system has some notion of being able to export lists, like a CSV file, and we have a great new campaigns tool that allows you to go into the platform, upload it, select your creative, and you’re off to the races.”

Learn how to use Lob campaigns:

Q: We’d like to add personalized elements to our campaigns and run tests, but we don’t have great data. What would you recommend?

A: Have no fear, Tuffley and the solutions engineering team are here! Tuffley noted that this is something he and his team handle every single day and help our customers go through data, creative, and provide guidance on how to start, even if customers think they’re bringing over poor data. 

Watch the webinar recording or get your copy of the complementary eBook, Optimizing Your Direct Mail for Maximum Results

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