How to Create Catalog Test Scenarios That Matter, Part 1 of 2
In part one of a two-part series on the value of creating mail tests that produce measurable, and telling, results for your catalog, this week I tell the story of one cataloger and how its testing proved to have inexact results.
Catalogers these days are racking their brains thinking about ways to decrease costs. Many have turned to changing their books. But as I illustrate below, making universal changes to your catalog can have mixed results.
Some of the earliest direct marketers called their work “scientific advertising.” Catalogers separate themselves from brand marketers by measuring their results and learning from their successes and failures. That’s why catalogers must consistently stay true to the principles of scientific advertising and test everything.
I know you’re desperate to reduce costs. But I implore you to test before making any universal changes to your book. To illustrate my point, let me share with you a story — more like a cautionary tale — of a company that shunned the notion of a test before rolling out a major change to its catalog’s paper.
A client of mine decided that upgrading the paper it used in its catalog would result in increased sales — just a gut instinct. I warned these people about testing first, as well as running some profit and loss scenarios, to determine how the additional costs would affect their catalog’s break-even point.
They scoffed at the notion of running a pro forma break-even analysis to determine how much revenue they needed to offset the additional paper and postal costs. In fact, it took the convincing of their paper merchant, printer and service bureau reps, along with myself, to convince them to set up a test before changing their paper weight.
We set up a straightforward scientific A/B split test. We took half their customers and prospects and sent them a catalog printed on their regular paper. The other half were sent the book with the upgraded, more costly paper. To keep the test scientific, the service bureau chose every other name from each list segment. In scientific terms, the A portion of names represented the “control” group and were mailed the “before” catalog; the “test” B group was mailed the catalog with the upgraded paper stock. The goal was for the test group to outperform the control group.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.