How to Fast-Lane Your AEP Direct Mail Testing

2/21/2019 Nicole Williams

How to Fast-Lane Your AEP Direct Mail Testing

From getting materials in market to effectively supporting brokers to making the most of a compressed annual enrollment period (AEP), there is one thing marketers in the Medicare space can agree on: there’s never enough time. So making the most of every engagement opportunity is mission critical.

A/B testing has proven to be one way of ensuring that. But what happens when direct mail plays a vital role in your multichannel marketing campaign?

Live A/B testing of direct mail can take months to return meaningful results. That doesn’t give you a ton of flexibility (aka time) to meaningfully challenge your control with something new. Something bold. And even if you were interested in testing a new creative element in your direct mail program, the time and production costs required to make it happen always seem to get in the way.

So how much do you know about predictive testing direct mail?

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Consider an alternative to post-mail testing

Marketers who launch direct mail campaigns based on predictive research are few and far between. It’s true. And, according to Adobe's "Digital Marketing Optimization Survey," maybe that’s because 82% of marketers say knowing how to test effectively is “somewhat or very challenging."

Yet when you consider the benefits of a pre-mail versus post-mail testing approach, choosing the predictive option makes a lot of business sense.

Significantly shrink testing timelines

For starters, a traditional mail test can take up to six months to determine which message, format, image, incentive, etc., outperformed its competition. Predictive testing, however, is an experiment designed to measure the cause (the mail piece) and the effect (how the recipient reacts to it) for an upcoming send — before it’s launched.

This shrinks a traditional testing window from six months to a few weeks.

Optimize production and postage costs

Production and postage costs necessary to execute a traditional A/B test are a significant investment. And with that investment comes your acknowledgment that there will be a loser — which means a portion of your send is suboptimal. Instead of pushing out competing incentives with a volume in the hundreds of thousands, predictive testing allows marketers to identify a “winner” before production by sampling a target audience. That’s making the most of your budget.

It begs the question, why put postage on a losing mailpiece if you don’t have to?

Identify more than winners and losers

Unfortunately, too many marketers are missing out on collecting insightful, targeted clues that could help them successfully redirect a campaign for better results. Predictive testing addresses The Why that’s often lost in traditional A/B testing. By analyzing consumer engagement prior to production — not months after the send — marketers receive useful diagnostics to improve the messaging (or any other creative element) before the official direct mail campaign is actually launched.

This extra layer of feedback helps you understand the reasons for a campaign’s results. That way, you can confidently tweak specific components of your effort to effectively move the needle on response rate.

[FREE TIP SHEET] 24 Test-Proven Direct Mail Enhancements to Increase Response

Make testing create the results you want, faster

Nearly half (47.5%) of marketers consider themselves “data informed” yet use data “after-the-fact to find out what worked and what didn’t” (source: TrackMaven). If we’re talking about being efficient at direct marketing, well using data this way just won’t cut it.

In the end, predictive testing is an accurate, confidence-inspiring option that empowers marketers to use data in a highly cost-effective manner. Helping them integrate insights faster.

What’s the catch? Here’s the thing: there really isn’t one. Remember: you don’t have to wait and wonder if recipients will open, save or trash your offer. Tools are available to help you determine how well a mailpiece stands out in the stack before launching a campaign.

I see this as a real competitive advantage.


Nicole Williams is Director of RRD Healthcare Solutions. If you’re interested in predicting AEP direct mail results with transparent testing, learn more about Acuity by RRD.




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