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A/B Split Testing: An Important Key for Direct Mail Success

Justin Restaino
Sep 11, 2015
Direct Mail/Credit: darak77

Marketers often focus on the various components that make up direct mail pieces—graphics, copy, choice of mailer and the like—and ignore the grittier details of campaign tracking. However, it is this tracking—and specifically, A/B split testing—that will allow you to improve the results of your direct mail marketing and increase your return-on-investment (ROI). While testing is often ignored by many marketers, it should be a vital component of any direct mail campaign. Testing enables you to determine which marketing pieces resonate more with your target market, rather than merely relying on guesswork.

In some ways, testing is similar to being a scientist in a laboratory—you might have a hypothesis about the results your scientific test is likely to generate, but by controlling certain variables, you can determine whether your hypothesis has merit. Sometimes the results are surprising, which is why testing is so important, not just for scientists but for marketers as well.

Most marketers who use testing rely on A/B split testing. A/B split testing occurs when mail pieces are separated into two distinct versions, with only one element different between them. For example, the mailers might be similar in all aspects, except for offering different headlines, graphics, or calls-to-action (CTAs).

In this way, you’ve isolated one critical part of your direct mail piece to test its effectiveness. This allows you to determine how you can enhance your mailer in future campaigns to yield the best results. A/B split testing is easier to conduct than you probably imagine. You simply create two versions of your mailer. They should be exactly the same, except for one critical element. Then, you would send one version of your mailer to half of your mailing list, and the other half of your list would receive the other version. You would track the results so you could determine which mailer generated a greater response rate. In this way, you could analyze which mailer was the most effective. 

Remember that the more people you send the mailer to, the more confident you can be of the results. A sample size of 10,000 would yield greater confidence, for instance, than one of 1,000. However, if you are marketing to a smaller group of people, you can confirm the results by running the same test in multiple campaigns.

“A good marketer is always testing, always tracking, and always perfecting their skills. This is what sets apart a successful direct mail marketer from one who fails.”

Direct mail can be an excellent marketing strategy for mortgage brokers. It’s relatively inexpensive and can offer a high ROI if done well. To maximize your success, we recommend that you use A/B split testing. You can test a variety of elements—from the headline to the layout—to determine which features resonates the most with your audience. Think of direct mail as a continuous process of improvement. Each time you conduct a direct mail campaign, consider changing one item to see which version of your direct mail piece garners the best results. In doing so, you’ll increase your ROI, improve your response rate and acquire more clients.

K. Justin Restaino is vice president of Titan List & Mailing Services Inc. For more than 15 years, he has led Titan’s Mortgage Division, helping lenders of all capacities grow their businesses utilizing targeted direct mail. With a specialized focus in refinance and purchase markets, Restaino has the insight for proper data and mail application for success. He may be reached by phone at (800) 544-8060, ext. 204 or e-mail [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the August 2015 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

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