Sandy Goldshein Associates, Inc.

Building smarter campaigns from the ground up

Testing, testing …

Envelope Testing Icon

It can never be said too often: The key to direct marketing is testing. And testing. And testing again. Yet, so many direct marketers rush into their campaigns and neglect this crucial aspect, leaving them with little to learn from.

Why you should test

Without a solid testing strategy, it’s difficult to know what’s working and why. And without that information, it’s even more difficult to make decisions about what you should do for future mailings.

For instance, let’s say you send a direct mail letter to your prospects and get a 25% response rate. A month later, you use an entirely new creative and response goes down to 10%. What caused this drop? Was it the new copy? The new design elements? What should you do differently next time?

Now imagine you instead tested each of those changes one at a time. As a simple example, you could mail half of your audience your existing “control,” and the other half the same package but with your new copy. You could then put the results against one another and know exactly how much that new copy increased or decreased response rate.

Run multiple tests at once

You can then increase efficiency by testing multiple changes at once, sending a certain portion of your audience the control, another portion getting a variation, another getting a different variation, and so on.

You could potentially split up your testing in this manner as much as you like. However, be careful not to spread your volume so thin that your results lose their meaning. (Needless to say, effort also has to be made to ensure the different segments of your audience are as similar as possible to one another.)

Keep learning, keep improving

Testing may feel slow, but it’s the only way to be sure of what you’re learning and better understand what works and what doesn’t. With just a little extra organization, planning, and strategy you’ll be rewarded with knowledge that will help make your future campaigns far more effective.

“Why should I open this?”

blog_3_seconds_artThey say you never get a second chance to make a first impression … and this holds true in marketing, as well. Research shows that we’ve got only 3 seconds to gain our prospect’s attention, then 12 more seconds for recognition.

If you fail to capture the interest of your audience in those first few seconds — if they choose not to open that e-mail or envelope —the rest of the work you’ve done will be wasted.

How should this affect what you write and design? Here are a couple of the most important things to consider:

1) Know your audience.

Who are you mailing or e-mailing to? An upscale audience who will respond to fancy packaging? A value-seeking audience you want to entice with a teaser that promises a special deal? Use what you know about your audience to inform your strategy.

2) Consider the context.

No one wants to feel tricked. While it may be tempting to use a clever ploy to get your audience to open your mailing, be careful not to go too far. For instance, coaxing someone into opening your coupon pack with an envelope that’s made to look like it contains a bill might only breed resentment. Likewise, for a customer mailing, you may not want to crowd your envelope with promotional teasers.

Capture your audience’s interest in a way that’s relevant and authentic, and that’s true to the context of your offer. Doing so gives them a reason to open and follow through to your call to action.





Better data makes better creative

magnify_redperson_blogIt’s no secret that personalizing your direct marketing communications will lead to more successful campaigns. The less people feel like they’re receiving an automated mass mailing, the more likely they are to respond to your offer.

But the fact is, you can’t speak to your audience very well if you don’t know who they are. That’s where data comes in. It’s important to gather all of the relevant information you can about your prospects. And these days, there’s more information available than ever — things like income level, lifestyle, purchasing behavior, and more.

Let your data inform your creative

Many marketers use this data as criteria to segment their audience. But why stop there? This additional information can be absolutely crucial to the tone and content of your mailing.

Build segmentation into your copy and design

Use it to help you speak your audience’s language and be more relevant to their lifestyle. For example, you’ll want to use a far different tone for a wealthy, retired divorcee than for a twenty-something recent college graduate. Knowing ahead of time that you’ll be mailing to different groups allows you to personalize your communications to speak more specifically to each segment.

The more you can leverage what you know about your prospects and customers, the better you can use that knowledge to capture sales. And by using that information earlier in the process — to inform your copy and design — you can create a more successful campaign from the ground up.

SGA is movin’ on up!


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Expand your DM campaign by integrating digital channels


With an ever-increasing number of channels through which to reach their prospects, marketers often wonder where their money is best spent. Direct mail? Email? Social media? Banner ads?

The answer, most often, is some combination of all of the above. Each of these channels has something to offer and can fulfill an important function in your marketing funnel.

Let’s say you’ve used only traditional direct mail in the past, but want to expand your campaign out into the digital world. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use special landing pages to track recipients and get more information about them.
  • Try using personalized URL’s (PURL), so that you can expand your data and connect with prospects in the digital world.
  • Through list services, or through the ideas above, you can now use the email addresses you’ve accumulated to supplement your DM campaign with email touchpoints.
  • Develop a social media presence that allows you to connect with your prospects on a more personal level.
  • Take advantage of remarketing services to utilize the information gained in all of the above to keep prospects in your marketing funnel.

By developing a cohesive omnichannel strategy, you’ll not only make more connections with your prospects, but you’ll gain much more information for future campaigns.

Social media marketing: Lose the CTA and let your prospects come to you


These days, having a social media presence has become a must for nearly any business. But many get stuck on what exactly they should be using social media to accomplish.

One of the most important things to remember is that people do not want to be “sold to” through social media outlets. So it’s time to throw the DM basics out the window and lose the call to action.

But if you’re not selling, how can social media be used? Here are just a few ways:

  • Expand your presence. If a prospect is interested, simply crossing their path in the digital world helps as a reminder to buy.
  • Build your brand. Social media gives you a great opportunity to show people what you’re all about. If you’ve done something good for the community lately, it’s an excellent way to show your business cares and is a good neighbor.
  • Be social. Don’t just “do” social media because you feel like you have to, but actually spend some time interacting with the real people who are your customers and prospects. You’d be surprised what you might learn, and how you can use it to improve your marketing.

All the while, you’re creating impressions and giving the prospect the opportunity — when they are ready — to connect with you further.

Extra tip: Remember to use each platform based on its strengths. While Facebook might be great for a lengthier story about a charity event, Vine or Instagram might give you an opportunity to post a simple feel-good video.

Segment your audience for more successful DM campaigns


We all want our marketing campaigns to reach as many prospects as possible. But most marketers also know the value of personalization. Recipients want to feel understood — and not feel like they’re getting an automated message.

So when mailing to a broad audience, it might not be possible to create a message that will resonate as well, for instance, with a 30-year-old man who makes $100,000 a year as for a 75-year-old woman living on Social Security.

The good news is that there is an ever-increasing amount of information about your prospects at your fingertips — and much you can do to gain even more. And you can use that information to segment your audience and speak to each group of prospects more specifically.

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, your segmentation can be based on a wide range of criteria. Just a few simple examples are:

  • geographic location
  • age
  • life cycle stage
  • life events (e.g., a recent move)
  • income

Segmenting also allows you to track how different groups respond, so you can refine your future mailings and test different offers for different segments. It not only helps your marketing efforts now, but can also drive your testing strategy to help you improve future campaigns.

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