Client Case Studies:
Optimized Direct Marketing

Many agencies obsess over response metrics, paying little attention to cost per acquisition or the lifetime value of the customer. Our mission is to constantly find new ways to make our clients’ campaigns even more profitable, because scale isn’t possible without a healthy bottom line.

The client, a fully-accredited nonprofit teaching and research institution offering multiple health & wellness degrees and certificate programs, was looking to boost its enrollments, but its existing digital marketing agency was struggling to cost-effectively fill its enrollment pipeline with the necessary volume of prospective students. To supplement the shortage of leads, the university had been forced to purchase leads from third-party aggregators, which came with high costs and low downstream conversion rates.

Upon being awarded the account, SeQuel optimized the university’s paid-search accounts while introducing digital channels that would build essential top-of-funnel awareness in the geographies most relevant to the institution. This included targeting prospects across massively scaled audience platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google Display Network. SeQuel also wrote and designed program-specific creative across all platforms, created program-specific landing pages, introduced a compelling content asset offer, and developed blog content for the university’s website regarding career opportunities in natural medicine, which was used in the Facebook campaign as an efficient and effective strategy for building an engaged retargeting audience.

673%

Inquiries from digital advertising increased by 673%

75%

Inquiries across all web channels increased by 75%

70%

Cost per inquiry decreased by 70%

85%

Attendance at a critical on-campus pre-admission event increased by 85%

57%

Local inquiries increased by 57%

72%

Campaign generates 72% of all new inquiries

"The conversations we’ve had with the people at SeQuel have been very different from those with our prior agency. SeQuel’s team is very strategic, and they’ve been extremely responsive to the questions we’ve had. When SeQuel began managing our digital lead-generation campaign, we felt the impact almost immediately. They delivered on their promise to deliver a higher volume of qualified inquiries at a dramatically lower cost, and we’re connecting with these prospective students at a much higher rate, which has eliminated our need to purchase non-branded leads from aggregators. Thanks to SeQuel, we have more demonstrated interest in our institution than ever before."

-Erin, Director of Admissions

A leading motorcycle insurer had tried direct mail previously, but the campaign wasn’t producing growth at a speed or scale that could justify further investment in the channel. From a digital perspective, the client was running a modest paid search campaign, but wasn’t engaging in any acquisition-based digital marketing. SeQuel developed weekly direct mail drops for the five months leading up to peak riding season, along with synchronized digital strategies that included email, Facebook, blogging, display, and landing-page optimization.

29%

Direct mail sales rate rose 29% year over year

5x

Increased monthly site traffic by 5x

24%

Boosted landing-page conversion rate by 24%

17%

Cut cost per acquisition by 17% year over year

“SeQuel helps us keep setting the bar higher and higher. I especially value their ability to quickly see trends and adjust. I am not worried about constantly watching results when I know SeQuel has tabs on it. I’m very grateful to their entire team for being such great partners.”

-Kerri, SeQuel client

This insurer had recently experienced a 20% decline in annual premium, desired a structured retention strategy, and faced an inflated cost-per-acquisition due to out-of-control production & postage costs. SeQuel took the reins, optimized the campaign finances, tested more than 400 data files, built over a dozen models and developed 50-plus creative concepts.

25%

Acquisition sales rate increased 25%

38%

Revenue-per-policy rose 38%

Annual postage/production costs cut by 20% ($1.8M)

4x

Annual premium jumped nearly 4x

SeQuel’s people are direct marketing pros and trusted resources. They’re very diligent about constructing appropriate test offers—they make sure we’re never complacent! SeQuel makes strategic recommendations based on achieving profitability and CPA goals. They are true professionals and a pleasure to work with.

-Peg, SeQuel client

This identity-theft protection service advertised heavily across broadcast channels, but had never tried direct marketing, and feared it was missing out on a potent sales driver. SeQuel built the program from scratch, populating 16 test cells in the initial matrix with various offers, creative concepts and list files, generating 180 cells of indexed data.

11x

Indexing yielded 11x more data than an A/B test

3.7x

Response rate multiplied 3.7x since '12

Volume rose from 2M pieces in ‘10 to 130M in '16

40%

Channel helps generate 40% of annual sales

DM now the lowest CPA among marketing channels

The team at SeQuel is incredible—irreplaceable to the nth degree. They have a customer-centric focus, which is very apparent in all of the work that they do. Their willingness to be flexible—nothing could stand in their way. I couldn’t have done my job to the same level of expertise and success without that team behind me.

-Annabel, SeQuel client

A leading specialty insurer was having a difficult time converting prospects who had phoned their call center to receive a quote. SeQuel developed a nimble weekly hotline mailing—every Monday, the client pulls a file of last week’s hot leads, and SeQuel mails a targeted piece by Thursday of that week.

15%

Program achieving a 15% sales rate

Campaign creating $1.9M/year in top-line revenue

13%

Revenue-per-purchase beating acquisition campaign by 13%

We’ve had an incredible amount of success remarketing to responder/non-converter audiences, and we’re certainly pleased that the functionality was created to capture these records for this client. The resulting remarketing campaign is delivering the highest ROI of any of their campaigns by far.

-Erik Koenig, SeQuel’s Chief Marketing Officer

A prominent not-for-profit health insurer wanted to develop a direct marketing campaign for a new pre-Medicare individual product. Without an existing control package, SeQuel began testing to establish the most responsive and cost-effective combination of data, message, offer, format and creative concepts.

5/5

All five concepts beat CPA goal

57%

Winner beat CPA goal by 57%

2x

Winner doubled response rate goal

Rollout ROI: $5.75/1

On time. On budget. Needle-moving results. It’s what you need from a direct marketing partner. It’s what I got with SeQuel. If you’re looking for a partner to help you get the most from your budget, you need to talk to the folks at SeQuel Response.

-Chris, SeQuel client

A fast-growing home-security company approached SeQuel to launch its direct marketing program with goals of generating six-figure annual sales. In a three-month test period, SeQuel tested five different models, 16 affinity files, three offers and three unique creative concepts—generating 189 indexed test cells.

2x

Sales rate doubled since first campaign

Generating thousands of sales a month

Built two new control concepts in 2015

Budgeted eight-figure volume in 2016

SeQuel helped us launch direct mail from zero to a major revenue channel in a matter of months. Their expertise has been invaluable, from data to production to creative. They are a pleasure to work with, they work hard for us, and we trust them wholeheartedly with our business.

-Alex, SeQuel client

An insurer wanted to optimize a retention program that was targeting past customers on a one-size-fits-all basis. SeQuel launched a CRM strategy that segmented past customers based on customer RFM data (recency/frequency/monetary). We then tested communication timing, frequency and creative, and applied learnings across segments.

10%

Creative tests boosted sales rate 10%

21%

Revenue-per-policy up 21%

3x

Annual policies nearly tripled

224K new multi-buyer customers

8x

Customer lifetime value multiplied by 8x

SeQuel’s strategists are timely and thorough in their analysis, and always offer a clear and professional explanation for their recommendations/rationale. They seek to truly understand our business, and offer new ideas for partnerships or other marketing opportunities that go beyond direct mail.

-Director of Direct Marketing, SeQuel client

After experiencing early success in direct marketing tests, this identity-theft protection service wanted to increase its prospect universe without hurting response in phase two of testing. SeQuel sought to target more ideal prospects by customizing multiple competing regression models, and introducing optimal vertical files.

25%

New list source for responder model boosted response 25%

Data enhancements have produced 75% of control files

400K

DM helps produce over 400k new sales a year

65x

Volume has increased 65x in six years since launch

1/2

CPA cut in half since launch

SeQuel is the largest single member-generating agency channel in the company. When we need something, we can depend on them to execute, and execute with a very high standard of quality. They’ve been extremely instrumental in new-member acquisition, such that we wouldn’t have been able to hit the numbers that we did without them.

-Steve, SeQuel client

After engaging in direct marketing for about a year, an international fraternal benefits organization had seen a 70% decline in enrollment rate, and wanted to reach 100,000 new enrollments by year-end. SeQuel built a matrix that tested two unique offers and three different creative concepts, and also developed an email/postcard follow-up strategy.

91%

Increased overall sales rates by 91%

Winning creative/offer combo beat sales rate by 114%

51%

Reduced cost-per-registration by 51%

Acquired 83% more members with 5% smaller mail volume

6%

Finished 6% under budget

Given some sizable performance goals, we were allowed to test rather broadly in our first campaign, and it paid significant dividends. Not only did we find a more effective creative and offer—the overall campaign nearly doubled the enrollment expectation set by prior efforts. This campaign breaks the mold a bit, in that the offer is free, but the audience is static. So it has been fun constantly tinkering with new offers and creative concepts to find effective ways to engage the audience.

-Jay Carroll, SeQuel’s Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer

In this pilot direct marketing test, SeQuel developed a program strategy rooted in fractional multivariate testing. We ultimately developed three unique concepts, a campaign-specific landing page, plus six unique prospect lists, including one customer lookalike model.

2.5x

Concept beat average lifetime premium-per-lead by 2.5x

52%

New model topped average sales rate by 52%

2.3x

Average purchase premium is 2.3x the base price

$3/1

Winning test combination delivering $3/1 ROI

From a nonexistent direct marketing campaign to roll-out-level performance and profitability in 90 days. SeQuel’s proven FaQtor Test methodology strikes again.

-Tom Rothstein, SeQuel's Co-Founder/President

As part of an ongoing creative testing strategy, this insurer asked SeQuel to continue to test and back test new concepts on a monthly basis. Dating back to 2010, SeQuel has tested a total of 50 unique acquisition concepts, successfully unseating control with a new package every 10 to 14 months.

25%

Net sales rate boost of 25%

45%

Cumulative 45% reduction in CPA

Built new control concept in 5-straight years

Most direct marketing campaigns fail for one reason: they get tired. Marketers rely on control creatives with perhaps the occasional A/B test, and before you know it, fatigue has set in, and the campaign is in peril. We fight that complacency with a commitment to ongoing creative testing, even if we just beat the control last month, or if performance is already strong. Doing so has consistently delivered winners, enabling us to stay well ahead of any performance drop-off.

-Vicki Erickson, SeQuel's VP of Client Services

With multiple prospect streams feeding a fast-growing direct marketing program, it became necessary to more actively manage contact frequency and timing. But rather than merely looking back at whom we’d already targeted, we built and populated a database that allows SeQuel and the client to more proactively manage future contact strategies and data drill-downs.

200

Tracks over 200 variables for analysis

125M

Contact history on over 125M records

Columnar file maximizes data variety & speed

They went to incredible lengths to get our campaigns completed and out the door on time. All the late-night phone calls that they’re willing to take—they were invaluable. Nothing could stand in their way, and I think that really sets the SeQuel team apart from any other agency I’ve ever interacted with.

-Partner Marketing Manager, SeQuel client

Several years of working a relatively static marketing universe was causing this insurer’s response rates, sales volume and profitability to deteriorate. SeQuel began testing three to five new vertical/affinity files per month, built custom responder/affinity/publisher models, and targeted perimeter prospect segments.

38%

Increased revenue-per-sale by 38%

81%

Lifted premium-per-piece by 81%

Acquisition profitability rose 20%

4x

Annual mail volume grew 4x

Time and time again we learn that data is king. By continually testing new files of all types, we were able to not only boost sales rates, but also provide significant scale within profitability metrics. The campaign has grown 4x, and list testing was the primary driver. When we found a winning list, we just had to decide whether it would replace the lowest on the totem pole, or just bolt on. It’s been a compelling growth story.

-Scott Anderson, SeQuel's VP of Data & Analytics

It’s your turn

Our clients won’t settle for inefficient testing methodologies, shallow analytics or under-performing controls, and neither will you. But partnering with SeQuel isn’t just best for your organization—it’s also best for your career. Many of our clients are being rapidly promoted, because when we perform, you’re the hero.

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