Keeping it Real with Response Rates

Whew! My eyes feel like they are crossed. Check out the flowchart below and you’ll see why. This is my attempt to answer the age old marketing question:

What sort of response will we receive?

I wish I could spit off an easy answer, but the flow chart says it all.

I know this looks complicated, but let me break it down for you.  A good strategy can be planned on the front end by asking questions.  You may be thinking right now, “But even more questions will just complicate the picture!”  I say, “No, not if you ask the right questions.”

Consider these questions when planning a strategy:

  •         What is the goal?
  •         Who is the target audience?
  •         How are we communicating to them?
  •         What is the call to action?
  •         When will we be sending?

The answers to these questions can all work together to break down some of the mysteries that come with direct marketing response.

Take a nonprofit setting, for example.  If we are planning to send a direct mail piece at the end of the year seeking donations from never-givers, we already have some indicators that tell us response might be less than favorable. We can ask ourselves two of these simple questions to break down the mystery of expected response rates.

When will we be sending?

In our scenario, we are sending our piece during one of the busiest times of the year, and at the same time as many others. This is factor one that could work against us.  Factor two is the specter of year-end inclement weather brewing on the horizon, which has been known to affect both postal mailing and email efforts. Our send time really matters.

Who is our target audience?

We are taking a real gamble sending to people who have never given. Maybe they will give; maybe they won’t.  But the audience is iffy, and is a factor that really matters, too.

In our nonprofit example, we asked more questions – the right questions – and got chunks of information we can use now. It’s clear that both our choice of send time and our target audience can affect our end result.  Knowing this, we can make adjustments and plan proactively. Remember, we need to include tracking and take note of response as it comes in because this will be crucial in planning the next communication. Next time, we won’t have just a broad range of response we saw in a case study somewhere. We will have real benchmarks and indicators at our disposal.

Simply put, we can’t let ourselves go cross-eyed like I did with this flow chart.  Ask the right questions and the picture will become clear.

Keeping it Real with Response Rates