Okay, so you just spent $3,000 on a direct mail campaign. The pieces are out the door, and you’re finished with the whole process. Now it’s back to business, just fulfilling all those orders that are about flood in. There’s nothing more to do with the mailing, right?
Now comes one of the most critical parts of the whole operation – assessing the results of your campaign so you know:
- Was it worth it to spend the $3,000 in the first place?
- Of the two versions of sales pieces you tested, which one did better (so you know which to use for your next mailing)?
- Which list of names did better (so you know which list to buy again)?
We’re talking about tracking. Tracking your mail campaigns isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. It’s about understanding every element of the mailing you just sent out so that you can refine everything you do for future mailings. That’s the only way to systematically get better results as you grow your business.
I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve talked to who tell me they don’t really know the results of their direct mail campaigns. They have a sense that orders picked up after sending out a mailing, but they don’t have any hard data. And maybe they tried several different sales pieces over the years, but they don’t really know which one did better.
That kind of lackluster effort doesn’t allow you to make any progress. Sometimes a mailing works, sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t know why, you can’t use the information to create more effective campaigns.
You could waste thousands of dollars on future campaigns, using methods and lists that don’t work. And even more frustrating, you could fail to use methods and lists that you’ve already proven to yield the best results – but you haven’t done the simple math to see it.
You remember Mr. Spock from Star Trek. He was a master of logic. No emotions involved! That’s the kind of objective approach we have to take toward our direct mail campaigns. We collect the data, crunch the numbers, and up comes the answer we need to continue building on our success.
After mailing more than 200 million sales letters, I can tell you one thing that many have learned the hard way: Direct-mail is no place for guesswork.
You MUST know where your responses are coming from. Which mailing list is pulling best. Which sales piece is performing better, based on your testing. (You are testing, aren’t you?)
Tracking your mailings down to the smallest detail … every sales piece you’ve sent out … and every mail date you’ve used, will all help you refine your mail methods and increase your response rate.
For example, many businesses find that there is a best season in which to mail, and a worst season. They know this because they tracked their results, and now they can use this information to help boost their response rates.
Getting helpful information like this requires tracking every single mailing, for every single campaign.
If you can’t easily look at and compare your mailing list history, seasonality, and sales piece trends, you are leaving money on the table. You need to track every single detail!
The tracking reports I create for my clients involve hundreds of thousands of cells in an Excel spreadsheet. The first time I show my clients the tracking system I use, they are totally amazed at the detail.
In fact, they are overwhelmed. It takes me 15 minutes to explain how to read it. But once they see how it works, they’re hooked! They see how all the details add up to more money for their business.
If you want to increase your mailing response rate, you need to take a serious look at your tracking. Do you know everything about ALL your direct-mail campaigns? If not, you are missing out.