marketer doing direct marketing test ideas

6 Direct Marketing Test Ideas for 2021

For marketers, 2020 was an interesting year. Consumer buying habits have drastically changed more this year than in recent history – not only in what they buy, but how. What this means for marketers, is that they need to reconsider what worked in the past and adjust moving into the future. Brands who are looking to find a new way to engage consumers need to consider launching or revisiting direct mail as a part of that strategy.

[ For more insights into marketing & advertising in 2021, check out this recorded webinar]

Before we dive in, a few interesting facts about direct mail:

  • 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than online interactions.
  • 54% of consumers say they want direct mail from brands that interest them.
  • Direct mail response rates are 5-9x’s higher than any other advertising channel.
  • 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase.
  • 39% of consumers try a business for the first time because of direct mail.

So, if you’re looking to introduce your brand, become more personalized and drive top line revenue – consider some of these testing strategies in 2021.

  1. Life Event Triggers –Engaging your customers with meaningful, relevant messaging catches their attention. It’s personal, it speaks to their needs and generates response.  Whether it’s a move, new baby, engagement or milestone birthday, your message has the potential to generate incremental activity and is worth testing in 2021.


  1. Frequency / Fatigue Testing & Analysis – It would be nice if the first time we messaged someone they responded. Just like how we have to “bump” internal emails requiring response to the top of an inbox every so often, customers need to be reminded that you’re there and ready to help.   Test the impact of sending one, two or three more messages within a reasonable timeframe to your target and assess the impact response has on marketing expense.  A successful test will tell you where you need to draw the line with number of outreach contacts to maximize return.


  1. Offline Re-targeting – If you tag your website, you likely have the ability to re-target your inbound web leads across a multitude of digital platforms. You’ve also probably entertained the idea of offline retargeting via direct mail but felt put-off with low overall match rate and the high overall cost per impression.  Things have changed in the past few years.  Identity Resolution has come a long way and it is a lot easier to pull those web leads out of a digital environment and get in front of them with a physical mail piece, email or phone call.  It’s also worth mentioning that the offline re-targeting space has recently gotten a lot more democratized.  You can now work with one partner for identity resolution, a different partner for print fulfillment and a tertiary partner for post-campaign analysis.


  1. Multi-Channel Engagement – An oldie but goodie. The general hypothesis supporting multi-channel engagement is that if something works in one channel, there’s a very real possibility that it works in other channels and that the increased frequency of your message will generate a greater overall response.  Test complimenting existing impressions with alternative channels (if you’re in print, test digital or vice versa) and measure the resulting cost vs benefit.  The ideal outcome is that the integration of additional channels generates greater response at a flat or favorable marketing investment.


  1. Offer Segmentation / Testing – As marketers, we are tasked with a lot. Among other things, we are charged with maximizing return on marketing spend. and Offer productivity and profitability are very impactful at supporting this goal.  Consider targeting those customers that shop all the time with a less margin-intensive offer and see if they respond at the same rate.  Alternatively, test a larger offer to those customers that shop more infrequently to get them back through the door or on the website sooner.   If average spend is low, give the customer a threshold offer (like $20 off of $100) to get the order value higher.


  1. Shared Mail – If you’re looking to test direct mail, but perhaps don’t want incur the time and money investment, shared mail is a great way to test the channel and see if there is directional response. Shared mail is where you would join other complementary brands in one package to increase your impressions while decreasing overall direct mail costs.


There are a lot of iterative test strategies that may come from the six ideas above.  It’s also likely that you’ve tested into one or all of these test ideas in the past.  My final bit of advice is that if it’s been a while since your last in-market test, it’s worth testing again.

And don’t forget, there is a right way and a wrong way to test.  Check out this article by Hollie Fearer for even more insight into the do’s and don’ts of direct marketing testing.

Check additional stats from Fundera here: