Predictive Model Fast Tracks Direct Mail Testing, Lowers Costs | Nonprofit

7/27/2020 RRD

Predictive Model Fast Tracks Direct Mail Testing, Lowers Costs | Nonprofit

Shifting away from A/B testing of various creative elements in favor of powerful diagnostics


A large nonprofit organization heavily invested in direct mail marketing was looking to shorten timelines, reduce costs, and gain clear insight on creative variables within its campaigns. But with little or no predictive research, using a traditional sit and wait approach to testing competing creative elements was proving to be inefficient and offered limited insight. 

A direct mail snap pack designed for this client had been in place in some creative shape or form for a very long time, tested tirelessly every month. Five- or six-way panel tests were commonplace, with each differentiator being fairly small. 


Acuity by RRD™, a predictive direct mail testing solution, allowed the client to tweak and test subtleties without the financial or time commitments they were accustomed to.  

Traditional testing yields results, but lacks explanations. In this case, a diagnostics test also served as a critical component of Acuity’s effectiveness. By obtaining useful feedback on creative components, the client could find out the why with a diagnostics test. 

Acuity can also identify audience segments that react better or worse to an offering. In this test, females reacted to one of the premiums more positively than males — valuable insight typically not available through traditional A/B testing.


Acuity by RRD obtained faster results and gathered detailed feedback all while reducing postage and production costs. Here's a closer look at how things played out:

Client’s traditional mail test

  • 3 competing gift premiums to encourage new memberships 
  • 200,000 direct mail packages of each offer sent to identical target audiences
  • 600,000 mail pieces in total with postage
  • $115,000+ in gift and postage costs
  • 4-6 months to collect returns to identify which gift premium performed best

Acuity by RRD online test

  • 4-6 weeks to predict winning premium
  • Fewer than 2,900 target audience subjects were sampled
  • $75,000 in cost savings (net cost $40,000)

The Acuity test also delivered numerous diagnostics to improve future messaging. The diagnostics test in this study identified a survey question on the back of a letter many participants disliked. The response was so strong, the client removed this element from future mailings.


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