Recent articles in Digiday’s series on the advertising strategies of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands chronicle the trend of ballooning linear TV spends and the challenges these brands face in optimizing this offline channel. Having maxed out digital channels, more and more DTC brands are banking on TV to achieve scale. Yet, given the inherent and steadily growing shortcomings of TV as a direct advertising channel, the Digiday articles raise an interesting question. Namely, should TV be the go-to channel for DTC brands seeking scale or is there a more efficient, effective and measurable direct advertising option?

DTC Brands Cooling on Facebook

The first article on Digiday discussed how the ever-growing flock of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that have been built on the backs of Google, Facebook and other social ads platforms are now turning to traditional TV advertising in an attempt to meet their ambitious growth goals. They’ve maxed out on Facebook and are seeing customer acquisition costs rise to unacceptable levels. Now, they’re spending tens and even hundreds of millions annually on TV, with some DTC brands spending up to 40% of ad budgets.

Examples of the annual TV budgets of some of the DTC brands cited in the article include:

  • Chewy – $123.4 million
  • Leesa – $73 million
  • Keeps – $22 million
  • Roman – $18.6 million

In fact, the article cited data from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) that 120 DTC brands tracked by Nielsen spent over $2 billion on TV in 2018, an increase of more than 89% from the prior year. And that doesn’t even include December 2018 data, so the increase is very likely much higher.

The conclusion one might draw from this development is that the oft-proclaimed “death of TV advertising” must be premature. For years we’ve all been hearing about the growing challenges faced by the linear TV advertising business — audience fragmentation, ad-skipping, OTT/CTV growth, etc. — yet these growth-hungry, ROI-driven DTC brands are pouring more and more money into traditional TV, and smaller amounts into connected TV.

So, TV ads must be working, right? The follow-up article from Digiday casts some doubt.

“DTC brands are running into TV advertising’s legacy limitations”  — Digiday, Feb 13, 2019

Digiday’s next article, following a few weeks later, detailed how some of these very same DTC brands were struggling with the “legacy limitations” of television advertising.

No surprise here.

Consider that start-up DTC brands are staffed largely with digital native marketing leaders who have grown up in an almost exclusively digital advertising milieu. They have mastered the new (not so new anymore) digital prospecting platforms like Facebook, which provided a precise and target-rich environment for acquiring customers who weren’t actively searching for your category or brand on Google.

The love affair with Facebook has cooled, and not just because of media costs increasing or the ongoing revelations of compromised user privacy. With the removal of third-party data from Facebook’s ad platform in 2018, the ability to target core audiences based on criteria such as household income, recent or past purchases has been severely curtailed, if not eliminated altogether.

A/B Testing and Attribution Challenges in TV

These digital marketing natives are accustomed to seeing the results of ad spend almost immediately and tend to have a low tolerance for ambiguity when it comes to analyzing campaign results. To their credit, they are also committed to A/B or multivariate testing of audiences, creative and offers, and to having the ability to set up and run these tests quickly and with very little friction.

Turns out, TV is an entirely different ballgame. As Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove said in the Digiday article, “We know TV is effective, but it’s harder to optimize it.”

That’s because TV is tougher to measure. Digiday’s senior reporter Tim Peterson summed up the challenges.

“Then there’s the age-old attribution problem. DTC marketers orient their strategies around how much it costs to acquire a new customer. That’s fine on platforms like Facebook and Google where they can pay for their ads based on the number of times people clicked on them and connect those clicks to conversions, like whether people registered an account or made a purchase. But attributing a TV ad to a site visit is much less straightforward.”

So much less straightforward that in-house data science teams at these brands are forced to cobble together custom attribution models to try to figure out how much credit to give to their rapidly growing TV spends. More often than not, they’re finding it can be a less than clear combination of art and science.

The Huge Opportunity for DTC Brands — Direct Mail Prospecting

Given these limitations and the heavy costs required to even test TV (not to mention the substantial creative costs), it’s surprising that we are not hearing more about DTC brands ramping up their spend in print, and specifically in direct mail, the advertising channel that spurred the growth of an earlier generation of DTC brands.

While so-called “programmatic direct mail” has made something of ripple in the past couple of years, it’s bound and limited in scale by its sole focus on retargeting anonymous visitors with mail. The huge opportunity for DTC brands who’ve maxed out digital platforms is direct mail prospecting.

Direct mail prospecting — targeting brand new audiences with direct mail — excels as a customer acquisition channel for the same reasons that DTC brands loved Facebook ads.

  • Lookalike modeling: The targeting option that most often performs best on Facebook, performs best in direct mail. Top performing direct mail campaigns are built on the back of 1st party customer data used to build lookalike models with 3rd party data sets.
  • Easy testing: The ability to test creative, offers and lists (audiences) is virtually unlimited and easy to do. And you are not limited to A/B testing either; in fact multivariate testing is the key to accelerating learnings, scale, and declining CPA.
  • Scale: Direct mail has the highest potential reach of any DTC marketing channel because virtually everyone in the United States (and elsewhere) has a mailbox. With lookalike modeling, like Facebook, you can start with the closest lookalikes and scale your direct mail campaigns out to lower deciles of the model to expand reach.
  • Attribution: One of the unique and often overlooked aspects of direct mail that makes it so appealing as a DTC marketing channel is that it is the only channel that starts with a definitive list of people and physical addresses. Having the names and addresses of your prospects allows for the use of matchback analysis, so you can see how many of the households you mailed wound up becoming customers. Thus, the full or fractional credit your data science teams give to direct mail can be more confidently determined relative to TV.

Other advantages of direct mail include the ability to tell more of the product or service value story, the persistence of the printed piece in the home, and the ability to activate the lookalike-modeled data in other digital channels like display, Facebook and even email in a true omnichannel strategy.

As the VAB study showed, TV does drive response, and it has a place in the media plan, but as we’ve shown above, direct mail has more of what DTC marketers want and need from a marketing channel — precise targeting, robust testing, accurate measurement, and unparalleled scale. In short, when CPAs in paid search and paid social start to hit a ceiling, prudent DTC brands should turn (and a growing number are already turning) to the DTC channel that spurred the growth of an earlier generation of DTC brands — direct mail.


By Chris Hofmann, VP of Digital Services

Brainstorm, create, execute, test, refine, repeat: It’s the basic formula marketers can apply to virtually every aspect of their job. Yet for various reasons, companies often forgo the all-important testing step when it comes to direct mail marketing.

In fact, when we start talking to prospective clients, we can confidently assume that there’s at least a 50 percent chance the company has no testing practices in place. Of those who are testing in the direct mail channel, many struggle to see merit in the efforts.

Without smart testing, there’s a gaping hole in the formula. Testing reveals crucial information like:

  • Which audience will respond better to direct mail?
  • Does Offer 1 perform better or worse than Offer 2?
  • Which creative elements are sure to grab attention?

The right tests lead brands to winning combinations that most effectively move the needle.

Misconceptions can lead marketers to shun testing, but doing so can put a major damper on their direct mail campaigns. We’re here to save you from the same fate with a roundup of the five most common fallacies and reasons why you should avoid falling prey to them.

Fallacy #1: Direct mail is dead
Before we even get into the testing elements, let’s debunk the most crucial myth: Despite living in a world ruled primarily by digital content, direct mail is still very much alive and thriving.

Your potential customers can’t absentmindedly scroll past a physical piece of paper like they might do with promotional emails. Direct mail grabs their attention from the get-go so that when your email pops up in their inbox, they’re less likely to bypass the message. It resonates with those who don’t engage in social media, as well as consumers who don’t own smartphones – yes, 23 percent of Americans still don’t have one, according to the Pew Research Center. There’s also enough evidence to suggest that even millennials respond well to direct mail. With such positive response, direct mail helps brands gain new customers and significantly increase their annual growth.

Fallacy #2: Testing isn’t necessary
Without testing, you could be repeating failures without even knowing. The reports may show solid performance, but you can’t always be sure that you’re actually maximizing the return on investment. It’s inevitable that direct mail content – or any marketing collateral for that matter – will eventually experience fatigue, and testing errors can lead brands to either continue using the tired content or fail to choose the best replacement. With this in mind, the better move is to avoid assumptions and invest in testing efforts that can bring such factors to light.

Fallacy #3: The risk isn’t worth the long-awaited reward
We agree that testing can be risky, and it’s easy to become disenchanted when the first few attempts reap little reward. Plus, getting approval from company decision makers can be a challenge when the ROI isn’t clear or immediate. Why deal with the backlash if you don’t have to? Fair point, but the real solutions are performing better testing and making a compelling case for the efforts.

Remember that learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as the winning combination. When you know what isn’t working, you’ll never waste your funds or efforts on combinations that aren’t yielding positive results. Testing is an effective way to gain this impactful insight.

Fallacy #4: Creative is the most important element
Of course you want your direct mail to be thoughtfully written and designed, but looks won’t matter if the content doesn’t reach the right people and encourage the desired action.

The 40-40-20 rule suggests that 40 percent of a test’s success is in the quality of the list, 40 percent in the offer and 20 percent in the creative. While there is some truth to this, our data scientists see it from a 60-30-10 perspective. There’s ultimately more value in testing multiple lists and offers than there is in experimenting with several creative concepts.

Fallacy #5: A/B or “split” testing is the only way
Many companies use the A/B method, mainly because it’s straightforward and inexpensive. However, it takes way too long to yield results – and those outcomes often only lead to minor improvements in the direct mail strategy.  Some may say that the more pricey multivariate test is a plausible alternative, but we beg to differ at SeQuel Response.

There exists a testing strategy that leverages the best of the A/B and multivariate methods and eliminates their downsides for a more cost-effective way to test at scale. We call it FaQtor Test, and it can give your company a 400 percent better chance of finding the winning combination. The method allows you to strategically test multiple direct mail options at once, and can even scientifically predict the performance of the combinations you don’t test.

Are we starting to ease your doubts about testing direct mail?

You’re HUGE into professional wrestling, right?

Wait… you’re not?

I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised. One of our employees isn’t a big wrestling fan, either.

He’s also not into wedding planning. Nor is he married. Nor does he have infants, toddlers, tweens or teens at home. Nor has he recently bought cosmetics. Nor is he good at DIY projects. Nor is he simultaneously between the ages of 45 to 49 AND 55 to 64. Nor is he both a man and a woman.

And yet, if you use programmatic display advertising, you’re spending your ad budget as though all those things are true of him.

At face value, you’re perfectly justified in doing so, because that’s the exact info you’d see on him in the Oracle Registry, which shows users the third-party interest data that’s been collected on them based on their browsing history.

So next time you’re feeling curious, I encourage you to click here to see the data that’s been collected on you. You’ll probably learn quite a bit about “yourself,” if the latest industry research is any indication.

According to a recent study from the ad-buying platform ChoiceStream, one data vendor identified 84 percent of users as both male and female, and even the two most reliable data vendors in that study disagreed on the user’s gender about a third of the time.

The reason for these wild inaccuracies, ChoiceStream CMO Matt Rosenberg told Digiday, is simple: “Advertisers need scale, and as a data vendor, if you can’t provide that, no one will buy your segment.”


An unlikely remedy

Thankfully, digital marketers don’t have to sacrifice performance to achieve this desired scale, and the cure for your online data woes can be found in the most unlikely of places.

It all starts with third-party offline data (from providers like I-Behavior, Epsilon, Infogroup, Acxiom, etc.) which is far more accurate, nuanced and scalable than online data.

For example, when that same employee of ours went here to view the offline/residential data that Acxiom had collected on him, the information was accurate across a litany of demographic and psychographic variables, including his age, gender, income range, asset range, housing, education, smartphone preferences, sports preferences, voting behavior, investment behavior, retail banking behavior, automotive behavior, insurance behavior, telecom behavior, credit card behavior, mortgage behavior and, most importantly, purchase behavior.

Now, until recently, advertisers were able to leverage this rich residential data when targeting audiences in Facebook. However, the social network has now nixed the use of third-party data, and so advertisers are limited to using first-party data and native Facebook data derived from users’ activity, interests and other self-reported identifiers.

Naturally, some brands will feel the pain of this limitation more than others. For example, one of our clients, a leading credit-optimization service, is quite handcuffed, because native Facebook data of course doesn’t include critical targeting variables such as income, credit score, debt levels, purchase history, etc. (aka the offline data that direct mail marketers can use all day long).


A hybrid approach

If you have an existing direct mail campaign, or even if you don’t as of yet, you can take your list of current customers and create a precise lookalike model by leveraging third-party offline data, which provides a targeting profile that’s far more sophisticated than anything you could build using online data.

You can then use that model profile to find droves more prospects who fit the mold, onboard that modeled mail file into Facebook, and target your prime direct mail prospects online.

There are 15 identifiers you can use to match Facebook users to your mail file: email, phone, mobile advertiser ID, first name, last name, ZIP, city, state, country, birth date, birth year, gender, age, Facebook app user ID, and Facebook page user ID.

In our engagement with the aforementioned credit-optimization service, after we generated a modeled mail file, we uploaded half of that list to Facebook, achieving a match rate of more than 70 percent using only first name, last name and ZIP. (For the record, this data is completely hashed, anonymized and privacy compliant.)

Over a 30-day period, we tested a range of Facebook newsfeed ads that mirrored the direct mail creative. Users received a “preheat” Facebook ad seven to 10 days before the mail piece arrived, which psychologically prepared the prospect to be more engaged with the brand. In total, we delivered half a million impressions, serving prospects Facebooks ads about every five days during that monthlong span.

On average, the sales rate among direct mail recipients who also received Facebook ads was 14 percent higher than the sales rate among those who received direct mail only.

Every single mailing list enjoyed an increase in sales rate and decrease in cost per acquisition thanks to the integrated Facebook ads—at a confidence interval of 98 percent—with one list seeing a sales rate boost as high as 32 percent.



With programmatic data being grossly unreliable and Facebook targeting now being severely limited, advertisers must find new ways to scale their online advertising without compromising performance. By starting with high-quality offline data, modeling it, and onboarding those audiences into online environments such as Facebook (not to mention email, residential geofencing, IP targeting, etc.) advertisers can boost performance—both online and offline—in short order.


Want to take your direct mail or digital marketing performance to the next level?

They’re waiting for you.

Droves of ripe, ideal customers who would totally prefer your USP over those of your competitors—if you only gave them the choice.

But for a variety of reasons, your marketing budget won’t allow you to reach them. You’re unknowingly ignoring these prime prospects, and not necessarily because the budget is tight.

No, often the far bigger problem is that too much of your advertising budget is tied up in channels that aren’t delivering the ROI that you think they are.

Today, a smorgasbord of offline and online advertising tactics deserve credit for nudging along each individual sale. But even though most every aspect of these tools is precisely measurable (and often in real time), painstakingly attributing varying degrees of credit to each “touch” is easier said than done.

Now add to this headache the fact that you’ll often have internal marketing teams and multiple siloed agencies clamoring for additional spend on their respective specializations. How can you defrost the foggy windshield of ego-driven metric massaging that often goes along with that? (Asking for a friend.)

Honestly, it’s enough to give any marketer an attribution aneurysm.

As a result, many marketers are unwittingly misallocating alarming portions of their advertising budgets. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The gap between your current growth rate and the one you want to achieve gets a lot smaller once you’ve developed a sophisticated multi-touch attribution model. And a growing number of marketers are keenly aware of its importance.

According to a 2017 survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Winterberry Group, the share of marketers planning to prioritize cross-channel measurement and attribution rose by 71 percent from the proportion that actually prioritized it the year prior.

But before you can take critical steps to earnestly optimize your attribution strategies and, ipso facto, the way you spend each marketing dollar, you need to be mindful of these eight telltale signs that your fundamental approach to attribution might be flawed from the outset.

Below you’ll find a condensed list of the most common attribution-related errors we see marketers making these days, so that you can know where to look for hidden inefficiencies—and unshackle your growth ASAP.


1. You don’t have an attribution strategy

We couldn’t create this list of mistakes and not start with the most glaring one of them all. But according to the same survey cited above, 43 percent of marketers still don’t prioritize cross-channel measurement and attribution. And in our experience, there’s usually one recurring reason for it.

Marketers today are expected to do more with less, and they’re expected to do it fast.

CMOs want XX percent more sales (or leads) than last year, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

But that pressure can cause marketers to hit the ground running and try to beat competitors to the punch, without first taking a critical pause to ask, ‘Wait, what is this investment actually giving us?’

As a result, marketers spray money everywhere. And once they start, the idea of pausing individual tactics to measure each one’s relative impact—we’ll talk about the smartest ways to do that in a moment—would temporarily hinder their growth and prevent them from meeting the boss’ expectations.

And so, they keep the pedal to the metal, never fully figuring out which combination of channels and tactics—at which specific investment levels—would give them the most bang for their marketing buck.

In those cases, once it finally does become apparent that they need an attribution model, it’s clearly an afterthought. And afterthought attribution modeling gets afterthought attribution results.

Because at that point, the process can feel a bit like untangling an attic full of Christmas lights over Thanksgiving weekend. It can certainly be done, but you’ll hate yourself and most of your family by the time you finish.

The moral of the story is, without an attribution model, testing is nearly pointless, because you’re not calculating the relative impact that varying investments within each channel are having on your success. You’re flying blind, and you can’t have real confidence in the budgetary dials you twist as a result.

In other words, you’re turning what could be a smart ensemble of hyper-measurable direct-response media… into a de facto branding effort.


2. You’re relying on last-click attribution

If you’ve read much on attribution best practices or listened to a marketing podcast, like, ever… this one should also be pretty obvious. But it still bears repeating, and here’s why.

Assigning sole credit to the ad on which a new customer most recently clicked (or viewed) before converting is a symptom of a much deeper problem: You’re not looking at attribution holistically.

Equally important as determining where that last click is taking place… is determining how consumers are getting to that last click.

And while last-click attribution is certainly much simpler and easier to measure than most other strategies, it presents some serious dangers for marketers.

In reality, some tactics are just by nature designed to optimize performance at different points along a customer’s purchase path: awareness, interest, consideration and, finally, purchase.

For example, branded paid search is hugely effective on prospects who are already at the bottom of the sales funnel. But if you pull too much budget to branded search and away from other tactics that are more geared toward building awareness or interest, before you know it, your funnel will be dry as a bone.

For that reason, it’s critical that you understand all the different touchpoints that contribute to a sale and grasp the integral role each channel plays along your customer’s path to a purchase.


3. You’re trying to measure the unmeasurable

Let’s be honest. In some rare cases, your marketing investments are just pricey backstage passes for your company’s leadership team. Let me explain.

One good example of this was highlighted in a recent blog from author and digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik. In it, he paints a scenario in which your brand decides to sponsor a leading golfer. In exchange for a $22 million endorsement check, that golfer will now wear a hat with your brand’s logo on it every time he plays.

Naturally, your bosses are curious to know the impact of that investment. So you, the marketer, set out to find the answer.

After assessing the gross rating points for televised golf tournaments, conducting extensive surveys of consumers and/or CEOs at prospective B2B clients, and utilizing media-mix modeling and a host of other measurement efforts over the course of many months, you realize something:

Your CEO really likes golf and wants to rub elbows with top players in the hospitality tent at tournaments.

The first takeaway is, look, let’s please just call these investments what they really are, and stop wasting valuable resources trying to calculate the ROI they’re producing.

You’ve got enough to worry about in measuring tactics that really are measurable—and those demand your undivided attention.

Secondly, we won’t always suggest that you axe these investments entirely—sometimes they provide helpful air cover and brand recognition that can augment your more easily attributable efforts. But as true-blue direct-response marketers, we certainly wouldn’t deter you from at least having those conversations.


4. You’re relying only on directly attributable response vehicles

In the direct mail context, even though your letter might contain a campaign-specific 800-number, landing page URL and/or promo code, relying on those elements exclusively to attribute sales to that mailing effort would give you a grossly restricted view of its true impact. Here’s why.

Oftentimes, the recipient won’t choose to call the phone number that appears on your letter, nor will they take the time to type in the slightly longer-ish URL that’s listed. Instead, they’ll do a Google search for your brand or simply type in your brand’s homepage URL directly, navigate your site and, ideally, convert—perhaps even forgetting to enter the mail piece’s promo code on your shopping cart page.

As a result, direct mail gets no credit for this sale. Sounds a little silly, right?

In our experience, limiting your attribution to only directly attributable response vehicles will reduce a channel’s perceived impact by 50 to 70 percent compared with reality. In turn, marketers with this incomplete view will often stop investing in a channel like direct mail, cutting off at the knees what would soon become a potent acquisition tool—and severely throttling your scaling potential.


5. You’re not running match-back analysis

One critical step beyond measuring directly attributable response mechanisms is running what’s called a match-back analysis.

Basically, you take your file of new sales over a specific window of time, and then match them back to the list of people you mailed during a relevant period leading up to those sales.

Often, this match-back analysis will reveal that your direct mail campaign’s real impact was significantly greater than what your directly attributable measurement vehicles had suggested.

For example, let’s look at the initial direct mail test we ran for a large debt-settlement company.

A couple months after our letters hit mailboxes, the client expressed concern that the channel wasn’t performing up to their expectations. This was not at all an unusual fear among first-time mailers.

We explained to the client that they were seeing only the results from directly attributable response vehicles, and that after we run a match-back, based on our experience in similar verticals, the client could expect to see mail’s impact being 2-3x greater than what the surface-level results were showing.

Sure enough, the match-back revealed just that.

Today, the client uses direct mail to onboard over $1 billion in new debt every year.

There is, however, an even more precise way to measure the relative impact of direct mail (or any individual touch for that matter). We’ll discuss that in a moment.


6. Your lookback windows are too short (or too long)

As we alluded to in the previous section, you can’t accurately measure a touch’s true impact if you don’t understand the typical window of time during which the touch can have a lingering effect that leads to a purchase. This period is also known as a lookback window.

In the digital marketing landscape, the lookback windows are relatively short. A display ad, for example, shouldn’t be allowed a lookback window of more than a few days. Even that can be approaching eternity status, but it really just depends on the nature of the product and the amount of consideration that typically goes into making a purchase.

(It also depends on whether the prospect clicked on the ad or was merely served one—which would still trigger a viewability tag, but there’s no guarantee that the prospect actually saw the ad before converting.)

On the direct mail side, however, things are different. Mail is tangible. It’s physical.

It’s not at all uncommon for a letter to remain on a kitchen counter (or for its affixed card to get pinned to a fridge with a magnet) for months before the prospect finally converts.

In our experience, the typical lookback window for a direct mail piece is generally between six and 16 weeks—again, depending on the nature of the product.


7. You’re not running holdout tests

An even more precise way to measure the impact of a single touch is to run what are called holdout tests.

With this strategy, you’re taking a group of prospects and serving them a variety of ads across a variety of channels. At the same time, you’re randomly selecting a portion of that audience and serving them those same ads across those same channels, only with this group, you’re choosing one tactic to not employ in your engagement with these folks—we call them the “holdout” group.

By comparing the overall sales rate of the larger group with the sales rate of the smaller (but still statistically valid) holdout group, you’re able to see the isolated incremental lift you enjoy by employing the tactic you didn’t use on the holdout audience.

Now, if you’re running holdout tests among strictly online channels, these analyses can prove quite difficult, especially now that Google will no longer share user IDs externally.

In online environments, you’re not starting with a completely positive, deterministic understanding of a prospect’s identity, so you can’t guarantee that the person you touched in one channel is the same exact person you touched in another channel.

One way you can help solve for this is by using geotargeting. For example, let’s say you run paid search across the entire country. Then, in one state, you’d add just Facebook ads. In another state, you’d add just display ads. In another state, you’d add both Facebook and display, etc. By comparing the differences in performance among those geographic areas, you can start to get a feel for the incremental lift that each individual touch provides.

While holdouts among digital media are slightly more complex, direct mail is relatively straightforward.

You might never fully eliminate the debate over the degree to which each digital touch contributed to a sale, but with direct mail, the holdout is irrefutable. Employ all the other tactics you want, including direct mail, then select a portion of the audience to not mail, and the difference in performance is simple to measure and clear as day.

Mail’s impact is truly incremental, and justification for future investment is bulletproof.

Also, in case you’re doubting our suggested lookback window for direct mail, a holdout test is where you’ll really see concrete proof of mail’s uniquely long-lingering impact. Barring any freaky external forces, the holdout group should, for a brief time after mailing, perform at a sales clip that’s nearly identical to that of your mailed group. Then the mailed group will begin to show a noticeable relative spike in sales rate that will last, again, typically up to 16 weeks.

Once the holdout group and the mailed group start performing at the same clip again, it’s a pretty good indicator that your direct mail sales curve is wrapping up, and that’ll give you the best idea of what your direct mail lookback window should be moving forward.


8. You’re not effectively onboarding offline data in online environments

Another way to make your digital attribution model even more precise is to start with rich, terrestrial direct mail data and onboard those offline identifiers in online advertising spaces.

This way, you’re not starting from a place of total anonymity in your online audience targeting.

You can deliver consistent, synchronized messages to prospects across multiple media and isolate the incremental lift that each of your digital tactics is providing to your direct mail performance.

For example, some of your prospects would receive direct mail only, some might receive direct mail and email, some might receive direct mail and Facebook ads, some might receive direct mail and Instagram ads, some might receive direct mail and email and Facebook ads, some might receive direct mail and email and Instagram ads, some might receive direct mail and email and Facebook ads and Instagram ads, some might receive… you get it.

These offline-to-online integration holdouts are proving especially fruitful in the multichannel campaigns we’re running for a leading credit-optimization service. Currently, integrated Facebook ads are boosting the client’s direct mail sales rate by 14 percent on average, and by as much as 38 percent within the best-performing offline file.



As you can see, there are numerous ways a brand can commit costly attribution errors. If you’re not careful, you might wind up misdirecting huge segments of your marketing budget to channels that aren’t maximizing growth for your brand.

As a result, you could be unknowingly ignoring thousands of ideal customers every month, simply because your precious budget is tied up in bottom-of-funnel (and ultimately limited) marketing tactics.

We agree, at times, dialing in your attribution strategies might seem like much more of an art than a science. But by avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls mentioned above, which can make attribution modeling far more nebulous than it needs to be, you’ll be giving yourself a distinct advantage over the nearly 50 percent of marketers who still don’t prioritize this most critical endeavor.


Want help refining your multi-touch attribution model, so that you can quickly start getting more out of your marketing budget?

For years, financial institutions (FIs) such as community and regional banks and credit unions have prided themselves on superior customer service, consumer-friendly interest rates and fees, and more personalized customer relationships and experiences.

Where they’ve historically fallen short, however, is driving scalable growth in critical areas without relying on bankers and tellers to constantly pressure existing customers with cross-sell and up-sell offers (which can quickly compromise any competitive advantage in the area of customer experience).

For nationwide banking conglomerates, the answer has for years come in the form of pricey digital marketing tools. But not every bank and credit union enjoys such deep pockets.

Fortunately, these days, a tight budget is no longer an excuse for stagnant growth, as advances in advertising technology mean FIs of all sizes now have more sophisticated digital marketing tools within budgetary reach than ever before.

The new e-book, “The Financial Marketer’s Digital Playbook,” gives you six keys to deepening current relationships and growing market share (and the cutting-edge digital strategies that will get you there the fastest). In this “sneak peek” post, you can read one of those six keys. To see the rest, simply download the entire e-book for free.

Across the board, the latest research shows that FIs are placing a much greater emphasis on digital marketing. According to the The Financial Brand, the percentage of respondents who named “increase adoption of digital channels” as a top-three priority increased by 75% year over year. That shift catapulted digital adoption from No. 7 to No. 3 on the list of bank marketers’ most critical objectives over the next 12 to 24 months, moving it ahead of even “customer/member acquisition.”

Ranking of the Top Three Marketing Priorities

What are your financial institution’s top three marketing priorities for the next 12-24 months?

2017 Financial Marketing Trends Digital Banking Report


Unfortunately, marketers at community and regional banks and credit unions have been slower to adopt the sophisticated digital marketing strategies of their larger competitors.

FIs are not only missing out on the chance to get a significant digital head start on their similarly-sized competitors—they’re also overlooking an opportunity to steal market share away from the big guys by using new 1:1 targeting strategies that are far more cost-effective than they might think.

A word about “impressions”

At the end of the day, the goal for FIs hasn’t changed much. They’re still aiming to convince prospective and existing clients to entrust them with their life savings, dream purchases and financial legacies. And in order for FIs do that, it’s still critical that they make a warm first impression. Or, in cross-sell and up-sell efforts, a warm second, third, fourth (and so on) impression.

The only difference today is, consumers don’t spend nearly as much time in branch locations as they used to, so those impressions take place far less frequently on the leather couch of a local bank branch with a complimentary cup of coffee in hand. Today, they typically happen in a paid search result, Facebook post, YouTube video, display ad, email, “how to” blog, etc.

In other words, the process of identifying potential customers (and opportunities to cross sell current customers) now has to happen virtually.

After conducting a recent survey of 3,000 banking- and investment-product consumers across the U.S., research and consulting firm McKinsey & Company observed:

“The way to drive revenue relies on being able to attract consumers when they’re searching online or on mobile. Excellence in digital marketing—from search engine optimization to using design thinking for great site experiences to real personalization—will particularly reward those companies selling products or services that are relatively simple to research online (e.g., credit cards, auto loans, personal loans).”

According to McKinsey, over half of these consumers are doing their research using digital channels, and among consumers researching a checking account, for example:

“Clearly,” McKinsey concluded, “digital channels are dominating the top of the funnel.”

The FIs that most seamlessly adapt to this shift will be the ones that build market share the fastest relative to their competitors—hence the reason for this e-book. In the pages ahead, we’ll briefly highlight the six keys to growth for FIs today, and equip you with proven digital marketing strategies to help you effectively tackle each one.


Key #1: Acquire New Checking Accounts

A checking account is by far the most common entry point for consumers starting a relationship with a financial institution, which is why many retail banks continue to aggressively pursue checking account business. However, acquiring new accounts is a difficult objective, since most new accounts are switchers or new movers and often require incentives to come on board.


Like direct mail, digital acquisition strategies are best built around look-alike modeling, either by onboarding CRM data into walled garden platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter to build audiences that leverage each platform’s unique data set, or by building dynamic models using website-visit data.

Digital look-alike models can take thousands of variables into account in their construction, including web browsing history, in-app behavior, mobile location data, as well as integrated third-party data sets. Important advantages of online look-alike models are dynamism and recency. Built on machine learning, they literally change and improve from moment to moment as the constant stream of new data is read and used to optimize the models.

There are two main ways to build look-alike models on major audience platforms. One option is to simply onboard a file of current customers and let the platform model a new audience that looks the most like current customers. Or, a bank can place a pixel on important pages of a site (the online checking login page for example) and build a look-alike audience based on this cookie/ID pool.

Due to privacy concerns, banks will likely find it most appealing to build new audiences using site data, which is easy to do with the leading social ads and machine learning-based programmatic display platforms.

Combining dynamic look-alike models and powerful machine learning algorithms permits financial institutions to spend only on prospects that are most likely to open accounts, thus dramatically improving the efficiency of digital budgets.




Don’t stop here! Keep reading to discover five more keys to deepening current relationships and growing market share.

Download the entire free e-book!

facebook third party data

In response to Facebook’s decision to no longer allow advertisers to use third-party data when targeting consumers, one likely outcome is that brands and agencies will turn to previously untapped advertising channels that still can leverage voluminous third-party data from providers like I-Behavior, Epsilon, Infogroup, etc., to find their best (and biggest) audiences.


Why online advertisers should be worried

The impact that the policy change will have on the performance of Facebook advertising is yet to be seen, as brands can still leverage their first-party data along with Facebook’s user data to build lookalike audiences that target best prospects. But “best” could be a relative term without the rich demographic and purchase-behavior information that third-party data provides.

In reality, even when Facebook advertisers did have license to use third-party data, the platform was always extremely limited in its ability to tell marketers which specific variables were highly predictive in terms of driving performance, either positively or negatively. And there was never a way to test Facebook models with vs. without third-party data, so there would be no way for marketers to predict the impact this change will have on future performance.

Regardless, virtually no one in the industry expects the loss of third-party data within Facebook to have a positive impact on performance, and that question mark is leaving many marketers scrambling as they search for alternative ways to drive the sales that they’ve not only grown accustomed to seeing via Facebook, but sales they’ve budgeted. And it’s already April.


How online advertisers will respond

There are already discussions taking place regarding possible online workarounds, such as appending third-party data to first-party data before bringing it into Facebook for lookalike modeling (which still wouldn’t provide robust performance analytics at the variable level), and/or using third-party data to reach larger scored audiences via the display ecosystem (and there are a variety of ways of doing that).

However, what has made Facebook advertising so powerful is not just its targeting capabilities, but also the stickiness of the platform, as well as the impact and share-of-screen of the ad units. Display simply struggles to compete with Facebook in those areas.

For that reason, many advertisers will naturally look first to the most obvious and comparable native advertising settings with good share of screen, such as Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc., and they should.

But, when we all look back in a few years after the dust settles, perhaps the greatest impact of Facebook’s policy change will be the degree to which it caused online advertisers to start to shift their budgets to addressable offline channels—namely, direct mail—where they can still enjoy unparalleled targeting precision and “share of screen” without any of the ad fraud, viewability or brand-safety concerns that plague many uncontrolled digital advertising environments today.


A return to the original channel for lookalike modeling

Marketers began flocking to Facebook as an advertising channel when it introduced lookalike modeling in 2013, and part of what made this tactic so powerful was the inclusion of third-party data. But what some advertisers don’t realize is that lookalike modeling originated (and has been honed for decades) in the direct mail channel.

Since modeling with third-party data will soon no longer be possible within Facebook, direct mail will once again become the only channel where it is possible. And the third-party terrestrial data that has long supported mail is the most predictive data that exists today—it’s far more reliable than most online data—providing the most reliable and scalable way for marketers to reach their largest audiences that look the most like their best customers (and therefore have the highest propensity to purchase their product).


The growth tool that’s more affordable than advertisers think

In the many conversations we have with leading consumer brands on a regular basis, the most common objection we hear surrounding the concept of testing direct mail is the perceived high cost per acquisition (CPA).

The conversations usually go something like this:

Brand: “My online CPA is $50—can you do that in direct mail?”

SeQuel: “Possible, but not at an exciting rate. How many sales are you getting at that CPA?

Brand: “Two thousand.”

SeQuel: “OK, can you get 2,100?”

Brand: “Well, no. I’m kind of buying all I can get at that rate.”

SeQuel: “OK, what can you tolerate?”

Brand: “Well, I can tolerate $150.”

SeQuel: “OK, perfect, so do you want 10,000 more new customers per month?”

Once brands understand that their online efforts have a growth ceiling, the perceived high cost of direct mail is often offset by the unmatched scaling potential that the channel brings. Not everybody has a Facebook—it’s only a portion of the population, and that number may continue to dwindle in light of the network’s recent privacy scandal. But most everybody has physical address and a mailbox.

Plus, if Facebook advertising performance deteriorates as much as some experts expect, that means the channel’s CPA is about to start going up, and if advertisers have a certain CPA tolerance, it means the number of new customers they’ll be able to acquire within that tolerance is about to start going down.

Together, those factors cause the “cost” gap between Facebook and direct mail to shrink further and further, bringing mail into consideration for many digital marketers who had previously written it off as a growth tool.


Top brands are already tapping mail’s massive scaling potential

Countless leading consumer brands that have maxed out their digital and broadcast efforts have come to us, asking that we launch them into the direct mail channel. The results have been staggering across a variety of industries, whether it’s a meal-kit delivery service that’s enjoying a best-cell CPA of just $64, or a home-security company that’s driving 25% of all new business via the mail, or a debt-settlement service that’s using mail to onboard over $1 billion in new debt per year. The list goes on.

We’ve also helped a leading identity-theft protection service acquire over 400,000 new customers per year via the mail, doubling their annual growth relative to digital channels alone.

For this client, direct mail brings in:

  • 192% more new customers than paid search
  • 287% more new customers than direct URL visits
  • 792% more new customers than organic search
  • 2,059% more new customers than email
  • 8,061% more new customers than display ads
  • 186,338% more new customers than social media

But our clients aren’t the only brands realizing that mail is still a force in the acquisition game. According to Data & Marketing Association (DMA) industry averages, direct mail ROI is 8% higher than paid search, 50% higher than display ads, and virtually identical to social media.

Additionally, research shows that average direct mail response is:

  • 222% better than display ads
  • 383% better than social media
  • 480% better than paid search
  • 867% better than email


A FREE way to “test” the direct mail channel

As you can see, you might have an untapped and surprisingly cost-effective growth channel right under your nose, where throngs of richly targetable prospects are just waiting to hear from you.

Admittedly, direct mail couldn’t possibly make sense as an acquisition tool for all products and services on the face of the earth, so the million-dollar question becomes, “Could my product or service work in the mail?”

You’ll find the answer in our FREE e-book, “The Growth Hacker’s Guide to Direct Mail: 12 Signs You’re Overlooking Your Biggest Revenue Channel.”

In it, we give you the 12 most common indicators that made many of our clients a good fit for mail, so that you can answer that million-dollar question before spending a dime on a test.




paid search audit

Most brands assume that their pay-per-click (PPC) agency or internal team has configured their account—and continually monitors performance—in ways that will truly optimize ROI. But all too often, there are hidden inefficiencies in their PPC account structure that are going unnoticed.

If that’s the case for your brand, you can expect a domino effect of deteriorating performance:

  1. Significant amounts of your budget will be wasted on irrelevant search traffic
  2. Search engines will recognize that your ads aren’t being clicked, or that clicks on your ads aren’t leading to conversions, which lowers your quality scores
  3. Your cost per click (CPC) will rise sharply, even on searches that are relevant to your product or service
  4. You’ll forfeit droves of high-purchase-intent searches to your competitors


There’s one simple way to make sure you’re optimizing your PPC spend

Even in campaigns that seem to be performing well, there are always opportunities to make subtle tweaks in your account structure that will move the needle in short order. You just need a fresh set of eyes to “peek under the hood” and assess the overall health of your account by analyzing:

  • How your keywords compare with actual search terms
  • How your keywords are organized within ad groups
  • How you’re measuring the value of search traffic
  • How you’re bidding on traffic of varying value
  • And much more

For example, after reading our comprehensive paid search audit and recommendations, a leading specialty insurer asked us to implement our proven PPC strategies. In just three months, when it came to new customers who selected “internet search” or “website link” as the source of their business…

  • Quotes increased by 48%
  • Binds increased by 31%
  • Cost per quote decreased by 50%


Two case studies that highlight the problems a paid search audit can detect (and quickly solve)

Throughout this blog, we’ll reference various examples of problems that we uncovered while running a paid search audit for two brands that later became clients, and the recommendations we gave them for how they could quickly optimize performance.

Client A is an airline that operates daily nonstop flights between two major U.S. cities. For the purposes of maintaining the client’s anonymity, anytime we make a specific reference to the client’s keywords or relevant search terms, we’ll use “[city 1]” or “[city 2]” in place of the two actual markets that the client services.

Client B is a niche vehicle insurer. For the purposes of maintaining the client’s anonymity, anytime we make a specific reference to the client’s keywords or relevant search terms, we’ll use “[vehicle]” or “[vehicles]” in place of the actual product that the client insures.


Problem #1: Broad match is causing wasted spend on irrelevant search terms

When setting up the keywords in your ad groups, you can assign four basic match types—broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, and exact match—which give you increasing levels of control over how closely a prospect’s search term must match your keyword in order for your ad to appear.

We recommend sticking with the latter three match types, yet all too often we observe the overuse of broad match and/or failing to configure broad match modifiers in an effective manner. Casting a wide net like this tends to “open the floodgates” and gives Google wide berth to show your ads on irrelevant search terms that aren’t going to drive revenue for your brand, potentially wasting obscene amounts of your budget.

Example from Client A’s Audit:

The client intended to bid on keywords like…

“airplane to [city 2]”

…but because they were using broad match, they were unknowingly wasting hundreds of dollars to show up in thousands of searches for…

“sexxy [city 2] show”

“sexxy [city 2] show tickets”

…and the like.


Example from Client B’s Audit:

The client was bidding on…

“low cost [vehicle] insurance”

…but as it turned out, the search term that the client was spending the most money to appear for was…

“cheap [vehicles]”

Four of the six active keywords in this particular ad group were broad match, and over 50% of the spend was going toward unmodified broad-match keywords.


Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Eliminate broad match to avoid wasted spend
  • Focus spend on best converting phrase- and exact-match terms
  • Use modified broad match to continue to capture a wide range of relevant search terms and discover new keywords


Problem #2: Bidding doesn’t reflect the value of each search’s true purchase intent

It’s relatively easy to determine whether someone is searching for general information related to what you’re selling or if they are clearly in market for your specific product or service. If, based on a person’s search query, he or she is expressing a high likelihood of converting, it’s critical that your bids are set properly so that you’re willing to pay a higher CPC to appear in those lucrative searches. This is especially true for exact matches, which will inherently possess more value than broad matches.

Example from Client A’s Audit:

The existing bidding structure placed equal bids across the board, so even though the click-through rate (CTR) was between 43% and 50% for high-intent searches, such as…

“[city 1] airport to [city 2] flights”

“[city 1] to [city 2] flights”

“[city 1] to [city 2]”

“[city 1] airport flights to [city 2]”

…the client was bidding the exact same amount on low-intent searches that had a CTR between 2% and 4%, such as…

“[city 2] hotel deals”

“[city 2] suites”

Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Implement a more sophisticated bidding structure to reflect true value of search traffic
  • Raise bids for highest converting keywords to maximize high-value traffic to capture as much high-intent traffic as possible


Problem #3: Ad groups aren’t granular enough to delineate varying search value

Sometimes, your bidding won’t reflect the true value of a search’s purchase intent because your ad groups aren’t granular enough. It’s critical that you differentiate keywords of varying value by implementing a highly granular ad-group structure that allows for search traffic to be messaged in ways that are specific to the search.

Example from Client B’s Audit:

All non-branded and non-competitor keywords belonged to a single ad group. As a result, even though the client was enjoying a 60% increase in conversion rate when “[vehicle]” was included in the search term…

…the client was actually paying a higher CPC for search terms that didn’t include “[vehicle]”.

Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Restructure ad groups in a way that effectively groups similar search traffic
  • Allow for bids to reflect the true value of the search traffic and optimize cost per conversion
  • Write ads unique to each ad group, increasing CTR and quality scores


Problem #4: Not bidding on enough keywords to determine what’s driving performance

If you’re not bidding on a diverse group of keywords, then you won’t capture all relevant search terms, and you can’t precisely differentiate the subtle differences in the way people search. Your account simply doesn’t have enough data points to determine what’s working and what’s not—and why.

For example, if you don’t add discrete keywords for “life insurance quote” and “life insurance quote online”, you might never realize that—as is commonly true—people who include the word “online” in their search term tend to convert 15% more often, and so you couldn’t adjust your bids accordingly.

Example from Client B’s Audit:

The client had a total of just six keywords in its primary ad group, so even though there was significantly more value in searches for…

“[vehicle] insurance quote online”

…the client was bidding equally on searches for…

“cheap motor insurance”

Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Expand keywords so that they better reflect the wide range of actual search terms, allowing for a truer sense of what searches are driving results
  • Allow for more precise bidding to optimize spend
  • Improve Adwords quality scores by having keywords that closely tie to search terms, thus lowering costs and increasing clicks


Problem #5: Not adjusting bids based on the most lucrative geographic locations

If conversion rates are higher for searches that originate in certain locations, you need to adjust your bids based on that information. Or, even more glaringly, if you’re not allowed to sell your product or service in certain states, etc., you don’t want to waste bids in those places. Many brands assume that their agency is accounting for those obvious details, but you’d be surprised…

Example from Client B’s Audit:

The client’s PPC campaign was driving hundreds of quotes (conversions) in North Carolina and Massachusetts, but they weren’t legally allowed to write policies in those states.

Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Adjust location targeting to focus only on states where the client offers coverage, or where rates are most competitive
  • Adjust targeting to eliminate wasted spend
  • Bid-adjust state-by-state (or even at metro level) based on bind rates


Problem #6: Not adjusting bids based on device, timing, response medium, audience, etc.

Many times, performance of your ad will hinge on variables that have nothing to do with the actual search terms, and you need to adjust your bids to reflect those differences.

Device: Ads for your product or service might convert at a 30% lower rate when people are searching on a mobile device vs. a desktop.

Timing: Maybe your conversion rates are, for a variety of reasons, higher on the weekends vs. weekdays.

Response Medium: Perhaps your conversion rates are higher when prospects call vs. getting a quote online (and your call center is open only between certain hours).

Audience: It’s critical to know the searcher’s position along the purchase path before serving them an ad, and you can determine that with the help of RLSAs (Remarketing Lists for Search Advertising), your existing customer file, and other data sources.

Obviously, if a searcher is already an existing customer, it doesn’t make sense to waste money serving them an ad, because maybe they’re just searching for your brand because they’re trying to access your user login portal. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, like if you’re in event marketing and are trying to reach past attendees with information about an upcoming event.

RLSAs allow you to place higher bids on searches from people who have already made some progress through the purchase funnel for your product or service (and/or have clearly demonstrated in their browsing history that they are in market for what you’re selling). These are extremely hot leads that you can’t afford to let slip away to your competitors.

Example from Client A’s Audit:

The client was bidding on searches that sought flight information regarding [City 1], such as…

“[city 1] airport flights”

“flights from [city 1] airport”

“[city 1] flights”

“[city 1] airport”

…but those people hadn’t specified [City 2] in the search terms.

Now, because Client A’s shuttle operated between those two cities exclusively, one might assume that the thousands of dollars being spent on those generic searches was a waste—and it was—but it didn’t have to be.

As you’ll see below, there are ways that the client could have been capturing searches that appeared generic at the search-term level, but that were actually extremely relevant to what they were selling.

Recommendations to Solve the Problem:

  • Use audience targeting to improve performance of general keywords
  • In AdWords, layer “In-Market for Trips to [City 2]”


Want to be certain that you’re optimizing your paid search campaign’s ROI?

We’d be happy to run a free paid search audit for your company. Hopefully, you’ll receive a clean bill of health, and you’ll come away with peace of mind knowing that you’re investing your PPC budget as efficiently as possible. If not, you’ll have a handy set of recommendations to whip your paid search into shape and get back on the road to profitable ROI.

In early 2017, a specialty insurer contracted with SeQuel Response to test digital marketing tactics in support of a direct mail campaign, with the goal of increasing quote volumes and insurance sales.

From April to June 2017, SeQuel’s digital campaign resulted in:

  • The introduction of nearly 20,000 new qualified prospects to the client’s brand via custom content
  • 1,515 click-to-quote conversions at a modest $49 cost per action
  • Statistically significant display ad and Facebook creative learnings
  • A new landing page control via A/B testing

Overall, the client experienced year-over-year growth of more than 20 percent, and credits much of this to SeQuel’s integrated direct mail and digital campaign.


About the Client

The client is a specialty insurance underwriter that provides value-added insurance solutions for a range of niche vehicles and markets.


Client Challenges

In an industry dominated by household-name competitors, the client sought to increase market share in a particular niche insurance market. Unlike its competitors, the client did not have the luxury of subsidizing huge TV ad buys and other mass marketing efforts. Instead, the client focused its relatively limited budget on a highly targeted direct-to-consumer campaign.


SeQuel Strategy

After a comprehensive review of the client’s goals, current efforts, and competitive strengths, SeQuel recommended a complementary digital strategy designed to increase brand awareness, website traffic, and quote volume.

Some digital tactics, such as household and Facebook targeting of people who also received a direct mailing, were designed specifically to provide lift to SeQuel’s direct mail campaign. Other tactics—Facebook ads, programmatic display ads, Gmail ads and a conversion-focused landing page—were deployed as standalone digital tactics designed to generate incremental conversions.


Winning landing page in A/B test

During SeQuel’s initial analysis of the client’s web user experience, SeQuel strategists immediately saw an opportunity to increase conversions with a landing page test. The client’s control landing page, while focused on the desired click-to-quote action, assumed a visitor’s familiarity with both the brand and the key benefits of the product. Recognizing that the job of a digital ad, whether paid search, paid social or display, is simply to solicit a click versus a conversion, SeQuel created a landing page that made more effort to introduce the client and highlight the benefits of the company’s niche insurance policies, under the hypothesis that providing more reasons to convert would improve results. SeQuel then used Google Analytics Content Experiments to deploy an A/B test against the client’s control.

SeQuel’s challenger page was A/B tested in both the direct mail and the standalone digital campaigns, in each case beating the control by 20 percent and 16 percent, respectively.


Facebook ad campaign spikes brand awareness and delivers low CPAs

Given the client’s relatively low brand awareness versus competitors, SeQuel employed its “Qualify and Convert” Facebook prospecting strategy. This two-step approach uses paid content promotion to introduce new Facebook audiences to a brand, creating awareness and interest among most likely customers (identified based on predictive modeling, demographic, interest, and behavior data). Qualify & Convert also leverages Facebook’s relevance score metric to drive traffic and conversions at a significantly lower cost per acquisition.

The execution of this strategy involved SeQuel writing and publishing a blog post about the “top 10 tips” for buying this particular type of insurance, designed to introduce prospects to the client and establish the company’s credibility by offering “insider tips” in an interview format featuring two of the client’s seasoned customer-facing service representatives.

For the “Qualify” phase of the campaign, SeQuel created Facebook newsfeed ads in several different copy and image combinations to promote the blog post, and then tested these ads across multiple audience segments, including a Facebook Look-Alike audience that SeQuel created from the CRM file of the client’s customers, several product-brand interest segments, and a segment based on the recent purchase of a product the client insures. In SeQuel’s test, a nuanced blend of look-alike and recent product-purchase audiences delivered the lowest cost per click (CPC) at $0.20. With this learning, SeQuel optimized spend toward this segment, ultimately driving 20,000 highly engaged new users to the custom content at a very low overall CPC of $0.33, and a retargeting pixel was dropped on all visitors who clicked through to the content.

On subsequent Facebook sessions, prospects who had viewed the blog were served retargeting ads with offer-focused messages (“get a quote”) that linked to the conversion-focused landing page. More than 8,400 users were driven back to the page, resulting in 437 click-to-quote conversions at a $14 cost per conversion. Overall, SeQuel’s Facebook Qualify and Convert campaign drove 575 conversions at a very attractive $32 cost per conversion.


Programmatic display campaign bolsters heavy-up campaign results   

With competitive insurance rates in Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul, the client turned to SeQuel to help maximize results in those markets with a “heavy-up” campaign. SeQuel recommended a display prospecting campaign targeted at multiple product interest segments, including web users determined to be “in-market” for buying the product. SeQuel designed two sets of display ads for A/B testing across these segments and drove traffic to the landing pages designated for the A/B test noted above.

Across 17 million impressions, the campaign generated more than 21,000 clicks and 621 conversions at a $49 cost per conversion. It also produced a winner and valuable learnings from the A/B display test.

Ad A (featuring the standalone product), while having a nearly identical click-through rate (0.14%) as version B, had a 96 percent higher conversion rate (2.75% vs. 1.4%) at a 99 percent level of confidence. This creative learning, obtained midway through the campaign, was subsequently applied and tested in the Facebook campaign creative, resulting in a 57 percent lower cost per conversion than the other Facebook creative in rotation.


A successful selling season

 These digital efforts, combined with SeQuel’s direct mail campaign, helped drive a more than 20 percent year-over-year increase in sales for the client. The client’s director of insurance business for this particular product line has since referred SeQuel to her colleagues responsible for marketing other lines of business for the company.

“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, Director of Customer Experience

Seriously? Subscription brands still use direct mail?!

Hey, it’s a fair question. We get it all the time. So let’s address the elephant in the room… or should we say dinosaur? In today’s digital age, physical mail might seem like an antique. But make no mistake: The direct mail renaissance is upon us. And here’s why.

Subscription marketers are under constant pressure to push the envelope in terms of growth and ROI. And yet for many of them, whether they know it or not, their existing marketing mix has reached a growth ceiling. It simply isn’t getting the job done at the speed or scale that their bosses expect, and certainly not at the speed or scale that will earn them a promotion anytime soon.

This was the case for many of our clients before we engaged with them. Meanwhile, they had no idea there was an untapped and surprisingly cost-effective growth channel right under their noses, where throngs of richly targetable prospects were just waiting to hear from them. We’re talking, of course, about direct mail.

So before you decide to sit this one out and let a massive growth opportunity pass you by, consider this: Today, our clients use direct mail to acquire hundreds of thousands of new customers every year, in some cases doubling their annual growth relative to digital channels.

The new e-book, “The Subscription Marketer’s Guide to Direct Mail,” gives you 12 telltale signs that direct mail could be the key that finally unlocks the explosive growth that your company has been searching for. In this “sneak peek” post, you can read the first two of those 12 signs. To see the rest, simply download the entire e-book for free.

All we’re saying is, if you want to rapidly grow your business, but aren’t yet using direct mail to help you do so, there’s a chance you might be tying one arm behind your back. Admittedly, direct mail couldn’t possibly make sense as an acquisition tool for all products and services on the face of the earth, so the million-dollar question becomes,

“Could my product or service work in the mail?”

Just to be clear, this e-book is not a sales pitch. Our goal is simply to present you with 12 indicators that have made many of our clients a good fit for direct mail, so that you can answer that million-dollar question before spending a dime on a test. (Though technically, when it comes to our clients’ top-line growth, that question has been worth in excess of $1 billion to date.)

If the answer to that question is yes, our proprietary testing methodology and secret weapon, FaQtor Test, will make it work sooner and at greater scale than any other testing strategy in the industry. And if the answer is no, you’ll learn that sooner, too—and as inexpensively as possible.

Throughout this e-book, you’ll be reading various anecdotes that zoom in on just two of our many success stories. Given FaQtor Test’s critical role in both the launch and sustained growth of all SeQuel campaigns, we’d be remiss not to explain the inner workings of FaQtor Test right away in section #1, to provide context for the reader moving forward.


Two blueprints for rapid growth in the mail

If your company could experience growth like that every year, how soon would you want to know that? Read on, for the answer lies in the pages ahead.


Indicator #1: You understand the value of testing

To mail tens (if not hundreds) of millions of pieces a year without first testing to figure out how to optimize that investment would indeed be absurd. But in all the work we’ve done for our clients, the single biggest determinant of success or failure has been the company’s overall attitude toward the initial test.

The clients that have set themselves up to scale quickly are the ones that test broadly (multiple list sources, offers and creative concepts) in the initial test matrix, with the understanding that they’re mainly measuring the performance of their best test cell. If you’re willing to be patient in the initial test, that one cell will be critical in optimizing your campaign’s performance at rollout scale.

Two testing methodologies that will make you want to rip your hair out

If a direct mail agency presents you with a test plan that involves the words “A/B” or “multivariate,” turn and run as fast as you can.

In the direct mail world, the A/B test is the definition of “checking a box.” You’re testing just one unique variable at a time—and you’re forced to hold the others constant, so that you can isolate the relative impact of the one variable you’re measuring. It’s straightforward and inexpensive, but it could take months or even years to find only minor improvements.

In the example A/B test matrix above, your control creative/offer/list combination is on the left (in yellow). You’re testing one unique offer (B) against your control offer (A), using your control creative (maroon) and control list (orange).

A common alternative to the slow-moving A/B test is the full-scale multivariate test. By simultaneously testing many creative/offer/list combinations in a single test matrix, you greatly increase your chances of finding a winner quickly. However, it requires a far greater investment than you really need to make in an initial matrix.

In the multivariate test matrix example above, you’re testing 35 unique creative/offer/list combinations against your control (top left).


The faster, cheaper, easier, less risky (and more scientific) way to maximize growth in the direct mail channel

Sorry for the mouthful, but it’s all true. Our data scientists engineered FaQtor Test to give you the most possible learnings in a single direct mail test—at the smallest possible investment—so that you can be confident that the test cell you ultimately roll out is giving you the fastest possible growth at the highest possible ROI.

We strategically structure the matrix in such a way that we can employ indexing and predictive analytics to find winning test cells that you didn’t have to pay to test. So whatever you invest in the initial test, you’re going to get an average of 400% more in terms of data and likelihood of success.

In this FaQtor Test matrix example above, you only need to test seven unique combinations against your existing control (top left), but through indexing, you’ll be able to measure the impact of all 35 unique potential winning combinations in the entire matrix.

FaQtor Test is the perfect way to “dip your toe” in a direct mail test launch. You don’t have to pay for any of the indexed cells that might bring potential winners, and if those indexed cells lose, you didn’t pay a dime to test them anyway (and you can avoid wasting any money on them in the future).

But FaQtor Test doesn’t just save you money—it increases the value of your investment. Every additional dollar you invest in the initial matrix will exponentially increase your chances of finding a cell that drastically accelerates your pursuit of maximum growth and profitability.


SeQuel’s strategists would consider an initial test matrix that populates eight cells at statistically significant volumes to be fairly robust. However, the leadership at Client A chose to populate 28 actual combinations in the initial matrix, which included 19 lists & models, various offers and a few creative concepts. (Through indexing and predictive analytics, that matrix generated 171 total combinations, or 530% more cells than they paid for.) On top of that, Client A wanted to mail about 4x more pieces per cell than what our strategists initially proposed.

The benefits of that aggressive initial test have been far-reaching and ongoing. Client A made the most of FaQtor Test’s predictive analytics, and thereby accomplished the equivalent of decades of A/B testing in a three-month test window. With the help of those invaluable early learnings and ongoing refinement, the campaign now drives thousands of sales every month.


Did you know that SeQuel has used FaQtor Test to index the results for over 1 MILLION unique test combinations across countless industries? We’ve learned what works—and what doesn’t—so you don’t have to waste time or money learning those same lessons.

At SeQuel, we’re certainly direct mail experts, but more specifically, we’re launch experts. There’s simply no other testing methodology on the market today that will optimize and scale your campaign as rapidly and cost-effectively as FaQtor Test.

Click the video below to see how it works:


Indicator #2: Your company is already investing in brand advertising

Strategy for building market share isn’t all that different from military strategy. Air cover is great, but if you don’t have any boots on the ground that you’re supporting, what’s the point?

Think of TV/radio advertising kind of like air cover. It’s a powerful display of strength, and certainly makes people pay attention to you, but you can’t advance on enemy territory in earnest without ground forces to do all the precise targeting. That’s where direct mail comes in.


Before Client B started using direct mail, it was investing heavily in TV, radio and digital, but those channels weren’t generating growth at the speed or scale that the company’s leadership expected.

The problem wasn’t limited to the fact that DVRs and podcasts were making it increasingly easier to skip over broadcast commercials. When you’re essentially creating an entirely new product category (as Client B did by selling identity theft protection), you really need to take time to educate the prospective customer on the category itself before you can help them see why they should buy your particular product. There simply wasn’t enough time to do all that in a digital display ad or 30-second TV/radio spot.

Direct mail, on the other hand, afforded the client far more time to tell that story. According to the U.S. Postal Service, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. Plus, a direct mail piece gives you a much longer shelf life than a TV/radio ad. If the prospect doesn’t have time to call right this minute, maybe they’ll take the letter and stick it on the fridge as a reminder. Then, when they have a moment to spare, they can re-read it, do some more research, and call the 800-number.

The bottom line is, all these channels need to work together for each of them to be most effective. Thanks to the investment Client B was already making in TV/radio ads, it had built up excellent brand recognition by the time the DM pieces hit mailboxes. Those marketing synergies also work in the opposite direction, too, as one in three people who become new customers each year (via all marketing channels combined) had received a direct mail piece soon before enrolling.




Don’t stop here! Keep reading to discover ten more signs that you might be missing out on your biggest revenue channel.

Download the entire free e-book!

Click the image to download a high-res PDF version.




About the Client

East West Bancorp is a premier bank focused exclusively on the United States and Greater China markets with more than 130 locations worldwide. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, East West Bank, is one of the largest independent banks headquartered in California and has U.S. branch locations in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Texas and Washington. The company is publicly owned and traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “EWBC.”


Client Objective

East West Bank sought to drive awareness of its business banking products and services amongst English-, Spanish- and Chinese-speaking small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners through a multichannel advertising campaign in multiple U.S. markets. The media buy for the campaign consisted of television, print and digital with creative produced by East West’s award-winning in-house creative team. SeQuel Response, the bank’s digital agency of record, was tapped to develop and execute a digital media strategy that leveraged those creative assets to efficiently drive traffic and conversions on campaign-specific landing pages.


SeQuel Strategy

Armed with a set of television and banner ads featuring success stories of SMBs the bank has financed through its business banking solutions group, SeQuel set about creating a multichannel digital media strategy built on the Internet’s most popular and powerful audience platforms, including Google, YouTube and Facebook. The strategy would lean heavily on the highly targeted and efficient video delivery capabilities of YouTube and Facebook. The SeQuel digital team synthesized a variety of targeting tactics designed to pinpoint SMB owners in the designated market areas (DMAs) relevant to East West Bank branch locations, including behavioral (in-market for business financial services), interests, company size, geographic and language segmentation.



The 10-week digital campaign executed by SeQuel drove more than 9.1 million impressions, 29,000 clicks and 644,000 video views at an average $1.31 cost-per-click and $0.04 cost-per-view across Google Display, Facebook and YouTube, and double-digit year-over-year increases in sessions on business banking web pages. A summary of results by channel follows.




As the second-largest search engine globally, YouTube provides a powerful platform for efficient distribution of video ads. YouTube’s TrueView video ad format is performance based, meaning an advertiser pays only when more than 30 seconds of an ad has been viewed (or the entire ad, if shorter than 30 seconds). Compared to traditional television campaign reporting, the YouTube ad platform provides extensive metrics including impressions, views, view rate, cost-per-view (CPV), earned views and video played to, which measures the percentage of viewers that watched a video to various points.

In addition to more than 400,000 views of the entire 30-second ad duration (a 36% view rate) at a CPV of $0.04, video overlays and links on the video ad units drove more than 2,800 clicks to campaign landing pages and ultimately more than 1,800 visits to East West Bank’s business banking product and service pages. Even for videos not played to completion, video played to metrics for the campaign were very impressive:

  • 25% of video played = 65% of impressions
  • 50% of video played = 47% of impressions
  • 75% of video played = 41% of impressions

This means East West Bank received substantial brand impressions and views of its content that came with no cost because the view length was less than 30 seconds.




With arguably the industry’s deepest and most accurate targeting capabilities coupled with a formidable array of impactful ad units, including native video, Facebook was a must-have in the East West Bank digital media plan. SeQuel created several highly targeted segments in Facebook Ad Manager, crossing multiple demographic, interest and behavioral categories with geographic selects relevant to the bank’s branch locations to create custom segments targeting SMB users, then uploaded East West’s 30-second TV spots to Facebook to create newsfeed video ads for the campaign. With an objective of video views, the campaign had 218,000 video views of more than 3 seconds, 99,000+ viewing 25%, 54,000+ viewing 50% and more than 32,000 viewing 100% of the bank’s 30-second ads. While not a primary campaign objective, the video campaign drove more than 2,500 clicks to the East West Bank website.



Google Display Network:

Google’s Display Network (GDN) provides deep targeting, reporting and flexible bidding options for performance-minded marketers, reaching approximately 92% of Internet users. SeQuel leveraged Google’s in-market segments for business banking services, geo-targeting and language-targeting (English, Spanish and Chinese) overlaid with a whitelist of brand-safe sites to generate more than 24,000 high-quality clicks to East West Bank landing pages. CTR was 0.35%, seven times the industry benchmark of 0.05%, at below benchmark of $0.66 cost-per-click. Cost-per-conversion for the display campaign, measured as click-throughs from the campaign landing pages to other business banking service pages on the site, came in at an attractive $19 cost-per-action.



Web Metrics

Overall, the campaign helped drive a 20% year-over-year increase in unique page views and an 80% increase in page entrances to the business banking pages of the East West site, with a time-on-site increase of 14%.



“SeQuel’s digital media strategy for our business banking solutions campaign provided a measurable lift for our branding goals. I know I can always count on SeQuel for excellent strategy, execution and results.”

—Julia Chen, Vice President, Campaign and Media Manager, East West Bank

Since selecting SeQuel Response as its digital demand-generation agency in October 2016, the admissions department at Northwestern Health Sciences University has experienced dramatic year-over-year growth across some of its most critical key performance indicators, including:

  • Triple-digit increase in inquiries from digital advertising
  • Double-digit cost-per-inquiry reduction
  • Double-digit increase in inquiries across all web channels (paid and unpaid) with sharp increases from cities in close geographic proximity to the university
  • Double-digit increase in attendance at a critical on-campus pre-admission event
  • A full prospect pipeline populated with 100-percent branded leads (no lead-aggregator sources)

The impact of the dramatic growth in inquiries is now fully manifest in the university’s fall 2017 incoming class, its largest in seven years. Fall new-student starts are up 14 percent year over year, and the institution’s flagship Doctor of Chiropractic program enjoyed 27 percent year-over-year new-student growth in an otherwise flat market.


Digital Ads, Landing Pages and Custom Content


Paid Search:









Custom Blog Content:


Landing Page:


About the Client

Northwestern Health Sciences University is a private, nonprofit, fully-accredited teaching and research institution with a campus in Bloomington, Minn. The university offers multiple degrees and certificate programs through a College of Chiropractic and a College of Health and Wellness.


Client Challenges

Like most higher education institutions, Northwestern was looking to boost its enrollments but was struggling to cost-effectively fill its enrollment pipeline with the necessary volume of prospective students. The university had turned to a digital agency for help, but nearly a year into the engagement, Northwestern still wasn’t getting the necessary volume of inquiries, nor was it achieving a sustainable cost per inquiry. 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.


SeQuel Strategy

Upon being awarded the account, the digital strategists at SeQuel quickly went to work, diagnosing glaring problems that, once remedied, would have an immediate impact on performance. For example, the university lacked program-specific landing pages that were optimized for conversions, the campaigns lacked a compelling offer, and there were gross inefficiencies in the paid-search and display accounts structures.

Beyond the low-hanging fruit described above, SeQuel optimized the university’s paid-search account (Google AdWords) and introduced Bing Ads, as well as other digital channels that would build oft-neglected yet essential top-of-funnel awareness in the geographies most relevant to the institution. This included targeting the most relevant prospects across massively scaled audience platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google Display Network. SeQuel 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 to build an engaged retargeting audience.


Results: An Immediate and Dramatic Impact

In October 2016 (SeQuel’s first month running Northwestern Health’s digital campaign) web inquiries from digital marketing efforts increased by 53 percent over the monthly average from the previous nine months, and cost per inquiry decreased by 38 percent. These results were achieved simply through strategic Google AdWords account restructuring. In subsequent months, SeQuel expanded digital channels beyond simply Google AdWords to include Bing paid search, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Google Display Network and Google Remarketing (retargeting) to create a comprehensive multi-network, full-funnel digital campaign. SeQuel applied its deep expertise in direct-response marketing best practices across all channels, paying special attention to the post-click user experience. SeQuel’s strategists built conversion-focused landing pages using a leading landing-page platform, which permitted rapid deployment and iteration for A/B testing.

The results in the following months, after all aspects of the SeQuel strategy were implemented, pushed performance well beyond the university’s expectations.


Digital Advertising Performance

Inquiry volume (admission info requests) from digital advertising, including paid search, paid social and display, increased by 673 percent year over year, with average cost per inquiry decreasing by 70 percent.


Organic and Direct Channel Performance

The benefits of SeQuel’s full-funnel campaign strategy aren’t limited to triple-digit increases across paid digital advertising channels. Conversions via the university’s critical organic search, direct and referral channels have also increased by 29 percent, thanks largely to the dramatic increase in visibility across paid search, social and display, coupled with the development of relevant career content targeted at a wide variety of both modeled and interest targets. Northwestern has now engaged SeQuel on a separate SEO project to further enhance these impressive results.


Pre-admission Events

In response to the massive increase in interest generated by SeQuel’s digital advertising campaign, Northwestern’s admissions staff asked the agency to assist them in promoting their pre-admission events, a critical conversion stage in the enrollment funnel. With SeQuel’s help, attendance at these events has risen steadily, with overall attendance at a major spring event increasing by 85 percent year over year, including a 100-percent increase in attendance among prospects interested in Northwestern’s chiropractic degree, the university’s highest-revenue program.


Success Spurs Further Engagement with SeQuel

With spring and summer enrollments exceeding campaign goals, the university is building on this momentum and expanding its relationship with SeQuel Response. SeQuel conducted a comprehensive SEO audit of the university’s website, uncovering multiple opportunities for improving organic search rankings for strategic keywords. SeQuel is now working with the university’s information technology team to implement these recommendations. Northwestern Health also operates integrative health clinics in multiple locations in the Twin Cities and has tapped SeQuel to help them boost patient volume at their campus clinic in Bloomington.

“The team at Northwestern is just outstanding to work with,” said Chris Hofmann, VP of Digital Services at SeQuel Response. “The admissions staff knows that every lead is a valuable opportunity, and they are systematic about advancing each one through the various stages of the enrollment funnel.”


“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 a lead aggregator. Thanks to SeQuel, we have more demonstrated interest in our institution than ever before.”

—Erin, Director of Admissions


Looking for a faster way to grow your business?


We’ve all heard a lot lately about “fake news.” Most people think its rise is the result of political gamesmanship. But actually, the primary driver is economics. As we all know, more web traffic means more advertising revenue, regardless of whether your content is legitimate or fake.

It’s more important than ever for brands to partner with an agency committed to employing every tool and making every effort to ensure valuable ad budgets are spent on relevant human audiences and quality sites.

There’s a great Washington Post article that explains how digital ad fraud, fake news and bot traffic are all interconnected in one giant money-making scheme. According to, “Billions will be lost to ad fraud this year, and ~37% of ad impressions will come from bots.” The World Federation of Advertisers forecasts that by 2025, ad-fraud losses will total over $50 billion, making it the second-largest organized crime in the world, behind only illegal drugs.

Clearly, a significant faction of site publishers will stop at nothing to skim money from well intentioned advertisers’ budgets. So the question is, what can marketers do to protect valuable digital ad budgets from these wicked schemes? But before we discuss safeguards and solutions, let’s see some examples of what we’re up against.

How do publishers commit digital ad fraud?

Ad fraud is a crime that has low-risk and high-reward. In fact, as you can see in the chart below, there’s a lot of money to be made in ad fraud, and it requires very little effort.

There are various tactics that disreputable publishers will use to commit digital advertising fraud. These sites make money hand over fist by sending waves of bot traffic to their fake content, thereby driving up the price of their ad space. To the untrained eye, the homepages of these sites make them appear legitimate. But digging a little deeper into the site architecture reveals just how useless their ad space really is.

Digiday interviewed a former fake-web-traffic buyer who was at one point spending between $10,000 and $35,000 per day on bot traffic. The single largest instance of ad fraud occurred in January when Methbot defrauded advertisers of $5 million a day by faking 300 million video views.

To make matters worse, some major supply-side platforms (SSPs) provide their services to the publisher on a don’t-ask, don’t-tell basis, turning a blind eye to the authenticity of the site traffic. The publishers then mark up their cost per thousand price and sell their ad inventory on ad networks and ad exchanges. Publishers have an easier time hiding their bot-traffic schemes when ad agencies purchase inventory through demand-side platforms (DSPs) based on audiences, and not on site placements.

If these phony publishers are ever discovered by ad exchanges and/or SSPs, the penalty is blacklisting (a temporary slap on the wrist, since they can easily replicate those same schemes under new domains).

Whether they know it or not, every link in the ad-tech supply chain benefits from these schemes, from the bot-traffic provider, to the publisher, to the SSP, to the ad exchange/network, to the DSP, and even the ad agency. Of course, not every cog has malicious intent, but that doesn’t soften the blow for unknowing advertisers.

Solving the digital ad fraud problem

Luckily, there are also good guys in this space—guys like Marc Goldberg, CEO of publisher-verification firm TrustMetrics—who are detecting the fraudsters and reporting them to ad exchanges, SSPs, etc. Dr. Augustine Fou is an ad-fraud and cybersecurity researcher with a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from MIT. His recent blog debunked the myth that the only victims of ad fraud are advertisers with large media budgets, and he went on to challenge agencies and advertisers to be more proactive regarding ad fraud.

Agencies like SeQuel are answering Dr. Fou’s call by integrating fraud prevention/detection into programmatic media buys. That includes the use of whitelists, DSPs with proprietary anti-fraud technology like Dstillery, and pre-bid technology from ad-tech firms like Integral Ad Science.

Most advertisers limit their exposure to ad fraud by aggressively utilizing paid search and paid social before allocating budget to programmatic ads that are unfortunately served to the rapidly growing number of fraudulent sites across the web. Of course, many, many sites are perfectly legitimate. During January’s Industry Preview in New York, our team spoke with the programmatic manager at, and they take numerous proactive steps to limit bot traffic to their site. But by and large, “walled gardens” like Google Search, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are safer options. There will always be some bot traffic going to these sites, but since these ecosystems don’t rely on third-party publishers for ad revenue, the potential payback for fraudsters is inherently limited.

We don’t expect the digital advertising landscape to be clear of ad fraud or fake news anytime soon. In fact, it’s very likely to get worse. That’s why it’s more important than ever for brands to partner with an agency committed to employing every tool and making every effort to ensure valuable ad budgets are spent on relevant human audiences and quality sites.

SeQuel Response has named Priority Envelope the winner of its first annual David Forster Vendor of the Year Award, the direct marketing agency announced Thursday.

“Priority is always willing to jump through hoops for us on emergency jobs,” said Paula Phipps, SeQuel’s VP of Purchasing. “If there is an issue, they are in our office with samples immediately, and they usually send proofs within four hours of receiving artwork. They are very responsive and frequently bring new ideas to our attention that are trending in the industry.”

SeQuel’s Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll, presents the first annual David Forster Vendor of the Year Award to the leadership team at Priority Envelope.


The award is named for David Forster, who worked for his mother, Sandy, at Little Pepper Promotions, which supplies SeQuel’s branded clothing and gifts. David passed away unexpectedly at age 27 while training for a marathon in June 2016. Doctors later discovered that David had a heart virus known as myocarditis.

“We are absolutely thrilled and humbled to be recognized by SeQuel Response as the inaugural David Forster Vendor of the Year Award recipient in 2016,” said Ryan Wenning, President of Priority Envelope, a custom envelope manufacturer based in Plymouth, Minn. “More significantly, SeQuel’s tribute to David Forster in such a meaningful, heartfelt manner with a commitment to his memory speaks volumes about the entire team at SeQuel Response.”

Each year, SeQuel plans to give the award to the vendor partner that displays the most effort, integrity, proactivity, creativity and unselfishness.

“These are the very same qualities we saw in David Forster each time we were fortunate enough to interact with him,” said Jay Carroll, SeQuel’s Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer. “We have such a talented group of vendors, and they’re a big reason for the success we’ve had. So this award is the perfect way to give them the credit they deserve and pay special tribute to the way David lived his life.”

David Forster, who worked at Little Pepper Promotions, a family-owned supplier of SeQuel’s branded clothing and gifts. David passed away unexpectedly at age 27 while training for a marathon in June 2016. Doctors later discovered that David had a heart virus known as myocarditis.


SeQuel will make an annual donation in David’s name to a charity chosen by the Forster family. This year the family asked that the gift go to the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, to fund myocarditis research. In a surprise gesture during the award ceremony, the owners of Priority Envelope announced their plans to match SeQuel’s donation to the heart institute.

“It has been largely the unbelievable outpouring of love and support we have received that has buoyed us up during these hard days,” Sandy Forster said. “We will never forget our beautiful boy, and we are forever grateful to our wonderful friends at SeQuel for letting us know that they want to remember him in such a wonderful way, too.”

To discover ways you can support the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, click here.

Who says direct mail is old news?

Done well, direct mail has always been an effective and profitable way to sell. And this venerable channel continues to prove its worth today, even with the rise of digital marketing.

But maybe you have tried direct mail and you’re still not convinced. In that case, we have but one question:

Did you do any testing?

Did you compare the response rates of your package using different mailing lists, offers, or creative executions?

Smart testing is key to direct mail success. It’s what tells you whether Audience A responds better to your marketing than Audience B; whether Offer X outpulls Offer Y; and which creative elements—layouts, headlines, graphic designs—move the needle the most.

Testing is how we at SeQuel Response helped a leading consumer brand build a successful direct mail program from zero to become its #1 most profitable acquisition channel, boosting response by 270% and reducing cost per acquisition by 50%.

Test, and you shall receive. It’s true! Find out for yourself with our free e-book, “9 testing mistakes direct mail marketers make—and how to avoid them.” You can preview the first eight pages below. To see the rest, simply download the entire e-book for free.




9 testing mistakes direct mail marketers make—and how to avoid them


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

—Pat Riley, Five-Time NBA Champion Head Coach


If your direct mail campaign was failing to reach hundreds of thousands of would-be new customers every year, how soon would you want to know that? Yesterday, right?

The reality is that without an advanced knowledge of sophisticated testing strategies, you could spend years investing in a non-optimized control that leaves millions of dollars on the table annually. So whether you’re a DM pro trying to unseat an existing control, or your company is new to mail and looking to structure a launch test, the insights in this report will put you on the fast track to maximizing ROI in the direct mail channel.


Mistake #1: Not testing


“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

—Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President


Seems like an obvious mistake, but you’d be surprised. When our marketing strategists begin a conversation with a prospective client, we walk in the door knowing there’s a 10% chance that the company is not performing any testing whatsoever in the direct mail channel.

There could be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps they don’t have the creative resources. Maybe they don’t know how to structure a test matrix. It could be that they don’t have enough room in the budget. But most of the time, if they’re not testing, it’s because inefficient testing methodologies have created a risk-averse culture within the organization.

A toxic testing culture

“If your regular promotion produces a response rate of 2 percent, and your test produces only 1 percent, you will be accused of wasting the company’s money by doing the test. If your test produces 3 percent, you will be accused of wasting money by mailing your regular 2-percent promotion. If you do no testing at all, no one will complain.” —Arthur Middleton Hughes, Database Marketing Author

Based on Hughes’ observations, it’s easy for us to understand why it can be difficult for you to get tests approved—especially if performance isn’t fatiguing enough to raise eyebrows. But every wave eventually comes to shore. Fatigue will set in—it’s just a matter of when. And by the time you notice it’s happening, and you’re actually feeling the effects of it, you could be three to six months away from a fix.

The irony of mistake #1 is that if you’re making mistakes #2 through #9, you’ll likely wind up making this one, too. Testing is risky, and after a few failed attempts, you’ll assume you can’t do any better than this list or that creative. But in reality, your problem doesn’t always lie in what you’re testing, but in how you’re testing.


Mistake #2: Having the wrong definition of success


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

—Thomas Edison, Inventor


The end goal of a test is knowledge—not profit. But sadly, many direct marketers judge the performance of a test based on the aggregate response rate or cost per acquisition of the entire testing effort.

The only way to maintain sanity when testing is to look mainly at the best performing test cell, and compare its performance with that of your existing control. If that promising new combination of creative/offer/list proves itself in a backtest, imagine the impact that one cell could have on the overall profitability of your next rollout. Plus, your cost per piece will never be as high at rollout scale as it is at test volumes.

No wasted test cells

It’s worth acknowledging that, yes, to find that winning cell—or ideally, those winning cells—you’ve spent most of your testing dollars on combinations that didn’t yield the ROI of your old control or new winners. But guess what? That money wasn’t a waste at all!

In that process, you’ve learned precisely what doesn’t work. If you’ve structured the test properly, you’ll know the exact concepts, offers and lists that had a negative relative impact on performance—and you never have to “waste” money on those data sets again.

Now, if only you could figure out a way to weed out those losers before spending any money testing them… (We’ll answer that riddle in the sections ahead.)


Once you have your expectations in line, it’s time to figure out which key performance indicators you’ll use to measure success. Many direct marketers obsess over response metrics, when in reality, measures such as cost per acquisition or lifetime value might be much better indicators of victory.



The lesson there is to always look for test variables that attract the best possible class of customer—don’t rule out an element simply because it lost the sales-rate game at face value.




Don’t stop here! Keep reading to discover seven more mistakes direct marketers make—so you will know how to avoid them.

Download our free e-book now!

Yes, I admit, I was quite skeptical of the programmatic display revolution.  I came from the world of SEM and SEO where marketing is mostly a pull action instead of a push action.  Users “search” for what they want so the users’ conversion intent is relatively strong.  Programmatic advertising falls under the umbrella of display so it’s more of pushing ads to a user.  However, the more I learn and understand what programmatic is all about the more intrigued I become.  Ads are targeted to individuals based on an audience profile that he/she is placed in.  Ads aren’t necessarily served on a relevant website, but are served to a relevant audience on numerous websites that those users navigate to.  Users may be surprised to find an ad served to them for something that is of interest to them.  Think of the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is targeted by ads personalized to him as he walks through a mall corridor:



Programmatic Shouldn’t Be Irrelevant Noise

Programmatic advertising may not be as futuristic as walking through a mall corridor with ads being served and marketed specifically to you, but we are going in that direction.  We’ve all been there…reading a blog post about our favorite sport team’s new player and an ad obnoxiously obstructs our focus, “Obama passed the HARP Act!  See how you can lower your mortgage payments now!” (although you’ve been renting an apartment for years and never owned a home).  You think, “Is this really what digital marketing has become?”  You may cringe at the thought of moving away from the unintrusive, harmonious experience of search engine marketing toward the in your face noise of display advertising.

car insurance



american auto


We’ve heard of digital media buying, RTB, DSPs, DMPs and other confusing acronyms, but where does “programmatic” fit into the picture.  Wikipedia doesn’t have a listing for “programmatic advertising” per se but there is a result for Real-time bidding.  For now, you need to learn the high-level ins and outs of programmatic advertising – digital ad inventory is bought and sold on a CPM basis through an instantaneous auction similar to the stock market.  If the bid is won then the buyer’s ad is displayed on the publisher website.  What do these acronyms really stand for?  RTB (real-time bidding), DSP (demand-side platform), SSP (supply-side platform).  Check out this easy to understand graphic that seems to explain how the ad auction works between DSPs and SSPs:


programmatic buying ecosystem

(Courtesy of Gulshan Sirohi)


What are the Benefits of Programmatic Advertising?

It actually wasn’t until a visit to the Quantcast RTA Academy Roadshow in Minneapolis mid-2016 that I realized if you don’t learn programmatic advertising, then your value in the digital marketing world would become somewhat obsolete.  You can be an expert in digital avenues such as Search, Social Media, Email, etc. but those skills are becoming less and less in demand where digital marketing is going.  Yes, it is important to be able to capture the search intent of users out on the world-wide-web, but what about the people out there that don’t even realize they have a need for something that they are not actively pursuing?  Let’s use a personal example…I came down with a pretty bad illness that was really difficult to eradicate.  My doctor put me on a medication which did nothing for my symptoms.  Desperate for a cure, I browsed several different websites, message boards, and blogs of material related to the infection without much success.  I Googled relevant search terms that I hoped would find me that magical pill with no avail.  One day I was reading a news blog and an ad showed up with a coupon for a specific antibiotic that focuses on my issue. I had read a bit about the drug on a message board, but was turned off about the extremely high cost that prevented most people from trying it.  I clicked on the ad and learned that with this coupon I only had to pay $50 for the medication that usually cost over $3,000!  With my coupon in hand I did more research about the drug and realized that it had a high success rate.  Lo and behold, after a couple weeks of taking the pill I felt much better!


magic pill


The main takeaway of the Magic Pill story was that my biases about display advertising being ineffective were wrong.  I could have Googled for weeks and never came upon information that was essential for my health.  The drug that cured me was marketed well from a display advertising standpoint.  The advertiser learned by my web behavior that I had a relevant illness and was doing research to find a remedy.  Then they served a relevant ad to the right person, at the right place, and at the right time.  Similar to Tom Cruise in Minority Report, there is a cool and creep factor in this brave new world of audience targeting with online advertising, but it’s definitely something we need to understand and even execute on in our own digital campaigns.

Marketers who grew up with or were converted to the “religion” of direct mail can be a cantankerous, dismissive, and even arrogant bunch when it comes to other forms of advertising. For example, brand or “image” advertising is often viewed as fluff and even a misallocation of valuable budget because of its shotgun distribution and the challenges in measuring its impact. And digital marketing is seen as being dominated by a lot of wet-behind-the-ears technicians who couldn’t write a compelling headline if their smartphone plan depended on it. Yet even the crotchetiest old-school direct marketers have to love what they see in Facebook advertising.

List, offer, creative—in that order

Turns out that much of the reason for loving Facebook advertising has to do with what we as direct marketers have always known to be key in the direct mail formula of success—the quality of the list. In direct mail, “list quality” refers to the accuracy with which a marketer reaches its target audience demographics.

Hitting the right people is absolutely critical in all advertising because nothing is more important than relevance, and in no channel do marketers have more control of this aspect of a campaign than direct mail. (Yes, still.) Yet, with the penetration of Facebook now hovering around 1.6 BILLION users, a veritable treasure trove of targeting criteria, and users logged in virtually around the clock, Facebook is fast becoming the direct marketer’s dream channel. I should also mention another reason—the (admittedly a bit scary) power of the Facebook pixel, which not only tracks user behavior on Facebook, but also on the web—but discussion of the Facebook pixel warrants its own blog post, so we’ll talk about that another time.

Hitting your exact audience on Facebook—a real-world example

Rather than recount all of the different ways you can target your specific audience on Facebook, a topic which has been very well documented elsewhere, I want to share a real-life case study where a colleague crushed it by using the granular targeting available in Facebook advertising.

In this case, my team was working in the online higher education space for a major public university that sought to promote an online bachelor’s completion program in diagnostic imaging. The goal of the campaign was to generate qualified leads for a team of enrollment advisors whose job was to contact and further qualify the leads and convert them to applications for admission into the program.

Initial targeting in Facebook focused on relevant clinical job titles, fields and interests, and education levels below the bachelor’s degree level. Clicks were directed to a conversion-focused landing page with an info-request form that included fields for capturing name, contact information (including email and phone), and current education level. While the campaign was producing leads within the budgeted cost per lead (CPL), the CPL had been climbing steadily and the qualified lead rate had dipped below 50 percent in recent months.

The unique aspect of this campaign was that admission to the bachelor’s completion program, and importantly, the awarding of 60 credits toward the bachelor’s degree, required an active registry with one of four medical imaging organizations, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Active registry meant that the prospect had passed some sort of exam and was recognized by the organization as a qualified professional.


The landing page asked for these credentials specifically on the lead form. Normally this would be considered a friction element that would weaken conversion, but in this case, generating qualified leads for recruitment was deemed more important than simple volume. Hence, a lead was only considered qualified if the prospect was active with one of the four registries.

Drilling down for gold

Instead of seeing these requirements as a shoulder-shrugging barrier to success, the digital media analyst, who had recently taken over daily management of this account, saw them as an opportunity—an opportunity to drill down into Facebook targeting submenus to find a way to increase the relevance of the campaign.

The first step was to find people who already held one of the four required active registries. Could even that level of admittedly obscure detail be found within Facebook? The answer was yes!



Targeting at the registry level produced a very relevant audience size of 62,000 across the United States.

The next step was to write ads that would immediately resonate with this audience. What better way to do this than with a headline that asked: “Got your [registry acronym]?”


This tried-and-true copywriting tactic—the question formula—works particularly well when targeting a niche audience, especially one that is tied to a professional organization.

Eye-popping results

With this relatively simple change in targeting, CPLs dropped 85 percent in one month—from $94 to $14—and the qualified lead rate increased from 45 percent to 97 percent, all without sacrificing the lead volume goal. In fact, this campaign ran so hot that the monthly lead goal was met within a day and had to be dialed back to maintain a manageable lead flow for the enrollment advisors.


Facebook advertising for all? Not so fast . . .

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Facebook will work for every campaign and audience, or that you should eliminate your direct mail budget and go all-in with Facebook. In the above example, we were dealing with one of Facebook’s (and higher education’s) sweet spots: the young to middle-aged female audience. But it’s results like these that get your attention and can make even a grizzled direct mail veteran smile.

open house

A silent auction at SeQuel’s new headquarters Thursday night raised over $6,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

The nonprofit builds affordable housing for families around the globe who are facing poverty, war, civil unrest, natural disaster, etc. Over one million people each year volunteer to help build and repair homes under Habitat’s trained supervision.

“Many people have played a big part in the growth that allowed SeQuel to move into its dream home,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll. “It was our time to help needy families move into their dream homes.”

Over 170 guests–mostly SeQuel employees’ family members, friends, vendors and other business partners–bid on 41 auction items that were donated or procured by SeQuel employees.

“I was extremely proud of not only the turnout at the open house, but also the quality of the items that our employees donated,” said SeQuel’s VP of Client Services, Vicki Erickson. “Our team members and guests really rallied around this worthy cause.”

SeQuel’s new headquarters, which is a little over one mile from the direct marketing agency’s previous home in Eden Prairie, Minn., had ample room to host the crowd. The 13,000 square-foot space features 13 offices, 29 cubicles, and even a sloped putting green, which played host to a putting contest that raised additional money for Habitat.

“We didn’t want the event to be solely about our new digs,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder and President, Tom Rothstein. “We wanted the event to have a purpose, and we’re proud to partner with an organization as special as Habitat for Humanity.”


Want to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?

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Click the video above to find out how FaQtor Test will lower your cost per acquisition faster than any testing methodology in the direct marketing industry today.


Want to learn how to build a FaQtor Test matrix?


SeQuel’s proven FaQtor Test methodology gives direct marketers high odds of quickly beating control–just like a full-scale multivariate test–but for a fraction of the price.

(We do that by strategically choosing a few creative/offer/list combinations to test at sample volumes, measuring which variables have the greatest impact on performance, and extrapolating those findings to predict the performances of various combinations that our clients didn’t have to pay to actually test.)

But did you know that our FaQtor Test is actually rooted in a renowned statistical experimentation practice called ‘fractional factorial design’? In this video below from 1966, Princeton University Professor J. Stuart Hunter explains where FaQtor Test got its roots.



Want to learn more about our FaQtor Test?


IMG_1761 - Copy

SeQuel employees recently helped a Minneapolis charity prepare 753 meals for people with life-threatening illnesses.

“With the support of people like SeQuel’s employees, Open Arms is able to bring comfort, nutrition, and support to our fellow community members,” said Maria Kustritz, Kitchen Host & Volunteer Specialist at Open Arms of Minnesota. “Thank you for helping us nourish our neighbors in need.”

Open Arms of Minnesota cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and ALS, as well as their dependents and caregivers. SeQuel employees chopped broccoli and packaged entrees made from three different recipes over the course of the afternoon.

“This charity hits home to many of us on a personal level, because we all know people who could benefit from a service like Open Arms,” said Vicki Erickson, SeQuel’s VP of Client Services. “I was also impressed with the state-of-art-kitchen and facility—I did not expect that.”

Open Arms started in 1986 with a single act of kindness—its founder cooked a meal in his apartment and delivered it to a friend with AIDS. Three decades later, the Open Arms operation has grown into a 21,000-square-foot building with a world-class kitchen. With the help of more than 5,000 volunteers per year, Open Arms cooks and delivers over 500,000 meals annually to more than 1,000 people each week.

“The organization has done an immense amount of work since its founding, and their employees were very quick to attribute all of their accomplishments to the volunteers,” said Mary Gulbrandson, SeQuel’s Office Coordinator. “It was evident with these people that this cause is their passion, and they are very appreciative of any help that comes along.”


Want to volunteer with Open Arms?

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With pricier postage already built into most 2016 direct marketing budgets, an upcoming postage price cut from the United States Postal Service will allow for augmented testing in the direct marketing channel this year.

“As the historical data and common sense support, the Postal Service anticipates that mailers will alter their mailing patterns after the removal of the exigent surcharge is announced in order to take advantage of the impending lower prices,” according to a recent notice from USPS to the Postal Regulatory Commission.

USPS informed the commission that effective April 10, it will remove its more than two-year-old exigent surcharge. The Postal Service put the 3-cent postage hike into effect in January 2014 to help the agency recover from the Great Recession. As of mid-February, USPS had collected more than $4.3 billion of the $4.6 billion in surcharges allowed by the commission.

“While the Postal Service recognizes that daily revenue fluctuations could result in a one- or two-day variation on when the revenue limitation is reached, our current estimate is that the revenue limitation will be reached some time on Saturday, April 9, 2016,” according to the USPS notice.

Once USPS officially removes the surcharge, the price of a first-class stamp will drop from 49 cents to 47 cents. Assuming no postage-related Congressional action between now and April 10, this will mark the first drop in postage prices since 1919.

“SeQuel has long fought to offset rising postage prices,” said SeQuel’s VP of Data & Analytics, Scott Anderson. “Our proprietary change-of-address hygiene services pick up where NCOA and PCOA leave off, further reducing wasted postage and optimizing every mailing list. Plus, the primary goal of our proven hybrid testing methodology is to stretch limited testing budgets, maximizing our clients’ learnings and chances of finding a winner quickly. When you combine these capabilities with the upcoming postage relief, 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for our clients’ DM programs.”


Want to optimize the way you spend your postage ‘refund’?



22SeQuel employees helped package nearly 13,000 dry meals for a worldwide food-distribution charity this month to feed hungry children in Haiti.

“That’s enough to feed 36 kids for an entire year,” said Dawn Espindola, team leader at Feed My Starving Children. “For all the way through July 2016, 36 kids are going to have a nice, hot meal—and nutritious.”

Feed My Starving Children, a Coon Rapids, Minn.-based nonprofit, has since 1987 provided nutritionally complete meals for starving, malnourished and hungry people in developing countries, where one in six children is underweight, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Each meal costs 22 cents to produce, and meals are funded and assembled by donor volunteers in the United States.

Last year, nearly 900,000 volunteers helped Feed My Starving Children package nearly 230 million meals for kids around the world. The organization’s 2015 goal is 270 million meals.

“Our numbers go down over the summer significantly,” Espindola said, “but hunger doesn’t stop.”

SeQuel employees formed an assembly line alongside other volunteers at the meal-packing plant in Chanhassen, Minn. Volunteers filled the dry meal bags with rice, vitamins, vegetables, and soy protein. They then weighed and sealed each bag, packaged them in boxes, and prepared the boxes for shipment to Haiti.

“It was truly a blessing knowing how many kids we were able to help feed in those few hours,” said SeQuel’s VP of Purchasing, Paula Phipps. “I loved the SeQuel team bonding and the fun competition to fill more bags and boxes than the other groups.”

As part of SeQuel’s new company-wide philanthropy initiative, when employees donate to charitable causes, the company will match their contributions.

“Working for a company that is focused on charitable giving is a breath of fresh air,” said SeQuel’s Director of Data & Analytics, James Fussy. “It helps to put life in perspective. Giving is contagious and promotes cooperation. Not to sound selfish, but it improves my sense of wellbeing by boosting my self-esteem and helping me grow as a person. I am truly blessed to be part of SeQuel.”


Want to volunteer with Feed My Starving Children?

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When it comes to direct mail testing, marketers can learn a lot from baseball’s front-office executives.

If you sign a .150 hitter to your roster, you might get him on the cheap, but he’s not exactly the guy you want up at the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth. You already know there’s an 85 percent chance this guy will not get on base with only one at bat. But if you can be patient with him, over the course of a few games and seven or so trips to the plate, chances are he’ll eventually send one to the gap. But in the meantime, how many missed opportunities were there before you saw him get that hit?

“In direct mail testing, all we need is one hit,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll. “However, our clients can’t afford to run seven or eight A/B tests over the course of two years to get that hit. They want results, and they want them now.”

A/B tests can be likened to a ‘trip to the plate’ in baseball. The likelihood of success is low, if you have only one shot, but if you get enough opportunities, chances are high you’ll win at least once. For the vast majority of clients and prospects that SeQuel has engaged with, if they’ve been testing at all, they’re testing in an A/B environment.

“You’re going to throw one piece out and, if you’re going to read the results correctly, you’ll change only one thing about the package on the next try,” said VP of Data & Analytics Scott Anderson. “You’ll change one element, try again, change one element and try again. That’s going to take you forever, and many marketers get discouraged and sometimes abandon testing—or even direct mail—altogether.”

In DM there are innumerable features you can test at a given time. It’s not often that anyone comes to SeQuel and claims they’ve tried it all, but in order to gather those learnings in one multivariate test, it’s often prohibitively expensive.

SeQuel’s proprietary FaQtor Test methodology seeks to deliver the best of both worlds. It provides the success rate of a full-scale multivariate test for near the investment level of an A/B test—it’s a hybrid approach.

“Through the process of indexing and handicapping, we can show how various combinations of list, offer and creative would perform based on the relative performance of a specific list, specific offer and specific creative,” said Chief Marketing Officer Erik Koenig. “Indexing what that combination would look like and handicapping it based on actual and projected volumes will many times lead us to the ultimate control combination of list/offer/creative, which may not have been tested initially.”

“Our clients can’t afford to run seven or eight A/B tests over the course of two years to get that hit. They want results, and they want them now.”

-Jay Carroll, Co-Founder/COO

Most new controls SeQuel has built have come via an index that’s been proven in a back test, rolled out, and then proven itself again. A/B and multivariate testing are literal; indexing is what everybody’s missing. Many marketers are missing numerous potential—and affordable—winning combinations.

“You increase your likelihood of success by four or five times using our FaQtor Test method,” Carroll said. “You increase costs incrementally vs. an A/B test, but those costs are an excellent investment, when the likelihood of success is that much greater.”

If a company is performing A/B testing on a quarterly basis, which is considered above average, it would take more than a year to eclipse the chances of finding a winner with a single FaQtor Test.

“Our approach will be a fraction of the cost in time, energy and lost opportunity,” Carroll said. “You also might have 12 additional months of an under-performing control, when you could have a new winner now.”


Tired of inefficient testing methodologies?

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Ready for Success

SeQuel’s involvement in a local clothing charity fundraiser helped the organization set event records for attendance and financial donations.

Four SeQuel employees, along with four family members of employees, attended the Ready for Success sixth annual “Fashion with a Passion” fundraiser at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis in April. Ready for Success provides low-income women and men with gently used and new professional clothing, accessories and new personal care items that are suitable for job interviews and the workplace.

“We’d like to send out a huge thank you to all who were able to come out and support Ready for Success,” said Ready for Success Women’s Program Manager Jennifer Paffel. “Over $24,000 was raised to help women and men in our community get ready for success.”

SeQuel helped to support the silent auction, fashion boutique and fashion show for employees Vicki Erickson, Dianna Deppe, Terri Smith and Carrie Dunn.

“I like the idea that Ready for Success also mentors low-income people to help them improve their abilities to land professional jobs and be self-sufficient,” said Erickson, SeQuel’s VP of Client Services. “They help instill confidence and poise and help people turn goals into a reality.”

“It was great to hear stories from individuals who have actually benefited from Ready for Success and gone on to get multiple jobs after receiving their services,” said Dunn, an Account Manager. “It served as a great reminder why charities like these help to not only improve individual lives, but the entire community.”

As part of SeQuel’s new company-wide philanthropy initiative, when employees donate to charitable causes, the company will match their contributions.

“SeQuel has always encouraged me to grow and expand my career goals,” Erickson said. “Knowing that they support causes like Ready for Success gives me a great sense of pride as an employee and as a woman. It’s the little things that many of us take for granted that make a big difference.”


Want to learn more about Ready for Success?

visit their website


SeQuel’s custom-built, cloud-based sQoreboard tool now provides our clients with real-time online access to campaign analytics.

“There are numerous database analytics tools out there, but there has been nothing—to our knowledge—until now that was specifically set up for direct marketing,” said SeQuel’s VP of Data & Analytics, Scott Anderson. “It greatly simplifies how we construct analytics for our clients, as opposed to a very manual process that might take a week or more for us to crunch the numbers.”

sQoreboard automatically compiles campaign highlights in easy-to-comprehend charts and graphs for web, tablet or mobile. Our clients can view the results whenever they want, allowing them to make informed, time-sensitive business decisions that can make or break their campaigns.

“It’s 100 percent customized to what is appropriate for each individual client,” Anderson said. “If they have a question like, ‘How did List B do in Package C?’ they don’t have to come to us and say, ‘Can you run me this report?’ It’s very easy to navigate, which has been a large gap in our industry—user-friendly analytics tools.”

SeQuel developed sQoreboard and has been extensively testing the proprietary tool for the past year with one of our largest clients, but it’s now available to our full roster of customers.

“We have yet to find anyone that provides direct-marketing services like we do that also offers a product such as sQoreboard,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll. “We believe this technology—along with SeQuel’s ability to interpret results and set future strategies—gives us another significant point of differentiation in the market.”


Want real-time access to campaign analytics? 

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DMA Response Rate Report 2015

Direct mail is over seven times more effective than all digital channels combined, according to the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015.

Median direct mail response rates to house-file lists were 3.7 percent, survey respondents reported. Email, social media, paid search, mobile and internet display together tallied only a 0.52 percent median response. Direct mail’s overall prospect-file response rates were 10 times that of email, which came in at just 0.1 percent.

“The report is clear,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll, “in spite of all of the noise about direct mail being a non-relevant channel, it is unquestionably still a potent marketing tool.”

The return on investment in the direct mail channel was between 15 and 17 percent, on par with social media, and topping mobile, paid search and internet display. Email’s median ROI was between 21 and 23 percent.

Direct mail’s median cost per response of $19 was less than half of the cost per acquisition for internet display, which was between $41 and $50. DM’s CPR was competitive with CPA in social media and mobile ads ($16 to $18), while email was $11 to $15. The study did not track CPA for direct mail.

“One of the most interesting takeaways from the study,” said SeQuel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Erik Koenig, “was the breakdown of CPR among different mail formats. A lot of marketers get hung up on cost per piece, prematurely ruling out more expensive concepts that turn out to be more viable than many think.”

Dimensional prospect mailings had median response rates of 2.8 percent, beating oversized envelopes (2 percent), letters (1 percent) and postcards (1 percent). CPR was $43 for dimensional mailings, but $105 for oversized, $58 for letters and $59 for postcards.

The study also found that 44 percent of respondents use three or more marketing channels. When that’s the case, those channels are most likely to be email, social media and direct mail.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said they expect their direct mail usage to grow or stay the same in the coming year. Half of respondents reported using direct mail in 2015, higher than social media (34 percent), paid search (30 percent), online display (29 percent), and mobile (5 percent). Email is used by 83 percent of respondents.

So if direct mail is so effective, why is usage down from 79 percent of respondents in 2012 to 50 percent in 2015? The challenge with direct mail, according to the study, is the cost, effort to deploy and the difficulty of tracking it.

“This is consistent with what we often see in the marketplace,” Carroll said. “Many companies have either given up on mail or not tested mail because of a lack of internal resources, a lack of budget or a lack of an effective DM testing method.  It’s in these circumstances where SeQuel can step in and resurrect or launch a successful campaign that will thrive for years.”

Not every consumer responds favorably to the same marketing approach. Just as comedians can be dry or slap-stick, wine can be sweet or oaky, and paintings can be real or abstract, direct mail marketing can be official or promotional.

“With an official strategy, we don’t want the format/design to tip our hand before they get inside the package,” said SeQuel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Erik Koenig. “A promotional package typically isn’t hiding anything.”


Official mail pieces enter the mailbox disguised in an outer envelope that looks as though it could be coming from a governmental office, a legal entity, or with an implication that a previous relationship exists with the consumer. The recipient doesn’t need to understand the proposition immediately.

“This is so important … don’t you dare throw it away without trying to fully understand why I’m writing you today,” said SeQuel’s Chief Creative Officer, Mike Goodwin. “Things like certificates, certificate orders, official seals, and/or authorizing signatures are usually effective. Also, these packages usually abide by a restrained color palate, with an emphasis on blues.”

Promotional mailers, on the other hand, employ art and images liberally. They clearly communicate the offer early on, often taking a friendlier approach.

“If consumers don’t see a piece that screams, ‘70 percent off,’ with bullets, starbursts or hand-drawn stars, they tend to toss it in the waste basket,” Goodwin said. “There are sidebars, more involved and colorful graphics with captions and photos of people or products. Promotional designs can run the gamut from professional and dignified to cheesy and tacky.”


In spite of its lack of color, official mail can still be more expensive than promotional mail, because it involves more components, such as envelopes, glassine windows, affixed cards and various inserts.

“Promotional mail is more likely to use four color, images, a heavier weight and higher quality paper, varnishes and even fifth or sixth colors,” Koenig said. “So you could see a promotional package being much more expensive than official. But a promotional approach typically uses far fewer components. Perhaps it’s even just a self-mailer or postcard, which can often offset the cost of all the other features. Ultimately, it’s all about the CPA, not the CPM.”

Best product fits

Official mail tends to work best in the insurance, credit card, and mortgage and loan categories. Letter and envelope packages – which are often official in nature – accounted for more than 80 percent of mail volume in all three industries in December 2014, according to marketing research firm Mintel Comperemedia.


Prudential relies on an official-looking envelope (top), while Royal Caribbean takes a more promotional approach (bottom). Photo courtesy Mintel Comperemedia. 

“If we have an insurance concept with heavy imagery, many consumers dismiss it right away, because they see it as an offer for something they don’t want,” said SeQuel’s Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Jay Carroll.

The key is trying to tap into the emotion of fear by stressing the consequences of not opening the envelope, without relying on art to catch a consumer’s attention. Due to regulations, insurance marketers cannot incentivize the sale with an offer, thereby leaving that marketing angle off the table.

“If we can get them inside the envelope and move them with statistics and possible consequences, maybe we can convince them along the way,” Carroll said. “A promotional outer envelope can give away what we’re trying to accomplish too early.”

For promotional mailers, consumers usually have an emotional affinity with the product. For example, nonprofit packages sometimes show a starving child or an unclaimed animal on the outer portion of the piece.

“Promotional mail works with the things that we collect – the things we love,” Carroll said. “Retail industries like golf, travel, wine, food and clothing – we’re trying to connect the dots with the consumer right away with the imagery. It wouldn’t make sense to fuss around with an official envelope.”

According to Mintel Comperemedia, nearly 60 percent of the tobacco sector’s December 2014 volume was self-mailers, which usually lean promotional. Self-mailers also accounted for more than half of banking volume.

SeQuel case study

SeQuel has seen these principles play out in its testing efforts with a prominent identity theft protection service.

“No one loves ID theft protection or life or health insurance,” Carroll said. “These are necessities. So usually when it’s a necessity, you lean more official.”

The product doesn’t carry an imagery connection that resonates with consumers, so SeQuel invests more in concepts that rely on facts, education and statistics.

“You would like to depict negative imagery of someone going through hell and back,” Carroll said. “But it’s hard to do it, because ID theft is such an insidious crime – much of which is computer based.”


Nobody likes to think about life insurance, final expense insurance or health insurance – so one would expect official mail to work best in all cases. Travel insurance, however, seems to benefit more from a promotional approach.

“Travel insurance doesn’t conjure up the same negative reaction as other insurance products – because travel is fun to think about,” Koenig said. “It starts to blend which approach you should take in the mail.”

Even though travel insurance is an exception to most insurance-mailing rules, it’s still important to play on fear – but using art to tell the story.

“You lost your luggage. You broke your leg. Your flights were canceled. You got ill,” Carroll said. “We show the imagery of that. People see the imagery and say, ‘That would stink.’”


In new client campaigns, SeQuel generally structures its hybrid multivariate test matrices with a reasonable split of official and promotional mail – largely based on industry and past testing experiences. Ideally one style will trump the other, and then all testing can be either official or promotional – or a hybrid of the two.

“We test broad at first to learn which approach is best and then focus all our efforts on finding the most effective concept in that vein — eventually working toward more incremental enhancements as a campaign matures,” Koenig said. “Our opinions don’t really mean much. It’s what the results tell us that matters.”


Experiencing creative fatigue?

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If you’re in direct mail, you’ve probably heard of the term “merge-purge.” And no, it’s not what happens when you get sick to your stomach while accelerating to highway speed.

Merge-purge is a six-step process that creates the best possible list of names for your mailing by filtering out unwanted and duplicate entries — keeping you from pinching potential profits with wasted postage.

1) List conversion

Before the merge-purge can begin, all files need to be in the same format. It’s nearly impossible to run a proper merge-purge if the data files vary in field length and layout. Garbage in — garbage out.

2) Pre-merge-purge count approval

Once you decide which lists you’re going to use, always approve your input quantities before starting the merge-purge. Make sure you received all the lists you ordered, confirm the quantities and double check that your list priorities are set correctly. This simple yet crucial step might catch a mistake before the merge-purge runs, saving you money and keeping you on schedule.

3) Address hygiene and standardization

The United States Postal Service’s National Change of Address database and various proprietary change-of-address databases will update addresses to the most current ones on file. Standardization can fix misspelled addresses, names and abbreviations. Without the correct addresses, the matching and de-duplicating processes won’t do you any good.

4) Merge-purge matching logic

  • Address only: Name fields are ignored; entries are matched based strictly on address.
  • Household: First names are ignored; entries are matched based on last name and address.
  • Full name and address: Nothing is ignored; all inputs must match.

You can apply the same matching logic across all data inputs or change it up by source, depending on your business rules. For example, you could suppress house-file matches at an address level, while simultaneously matching rental lists at a household level.

5) Nthing

There are three ways to randomly pick a representative sample list from the total available mail volume:

  • A/B split: The simplest split of lists.
  • Random: Completely random across all lists or a group of lists.
  • Almost perfect: Random, but will contain the same number from each zip code in all lists – otherwise known as “Nthing.”

6) Final count approval

If everything went well, this is an easy step — and like the others above, it should never be skipped.

Many factors can complicate this basic breakdown of the merge-purge process. It’s not an exact science or automatic process, and it requires a balance of software and human judgment. But without it, even the most brilliant strategies, concepts and offers might never reach the mailboxes that would make your campaign a winner.


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Process management, business rules, project workflows and client on-boarding are typically not the most intriguing aspects of the marketing world.  These terms are often associated with the nit-picky details of standing up a successful direct marketing campaign for a new customer.  But many marketers have enthusiastically jumped into new projects, only to experience major setbacks in timing and accuracy that could have otherwise been avoided by laying the necessary ground work for a smooth first-time execution.

Most process errors happen in the proofing phase–it can be difficult to ensure you’re commenting on the most recent version of a concept when your email inbox is cluttered with updates.  SeQuel’s dynamic online proofing platform tracks changes and approval sequences automatically.

That’s just one example of how seriously SeQuel takes the on-boarding process.  We realize that we must pay close attention to all campaign details and make sure all participants understand the value of a thorough on-boarding procedure.  Essentially, we like to grab the reins and help our clients navigate through all of the mundane order entry processes so that they can focus on the strategic priorities, rather than project management.

The on-boarding process

On-boarding clients can be an art–it requires two ears and one mouth.  We must figure out the right questions to ask, listen carefully to the responses, fill any information gaps, understand the client’s expectations, solve related problems–then execute flawlessly, on-time, and within the budget.

For a first-time customer campaign, SeQuel develops a unique action plan and documented process workflow that defines individual activities, ownership and deliverable timelines.  These activities can include the following:

  • Discuss and determine any current marketing process problems the client is facing
  • Understand the life cycle from planning to creative–through execution and analysis
  • Understand the client’s brand guidelines
  • Learn the internal flow of communication and know who the key stakeholders and decision makers are
  • Understand the various participants & departments involved in the creative development process
  • Get familiar with the client’s approval process and requirements (internal, legal, governmental review, underwriter reviews, etc.)
  • Determine the review process timelines per reviewer
  • Establish the online proofing process requirements: How does the client like to see layouts? How will they return them with changes?
  • Discuss the data processes that need to be followed, such as security, data flows, hygiene, ownership, reporting and analytics
  • Build schedules using the defined process workflow

Ongoing refinement

As each campaign closes, we continually look at refining our processes.  We seek improvement opportunities that will save time, eliminate redundancies and reduce the chances for errors. SeQuel’s clients benefit greatly from our expertise in campaign management and from our thorough on-boarding and workflow processes. It is often said, “The devil is in the details.”  At SeQuel Response, we’ve gotten to know him quite well.


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How do we know who won the Super Bowl?  The World Series?  The gold medal in Downhill Skiing?  Someone scored the most points.  Someone ran the course in the fastest time.  Without these key measurements of points or time, we would have no basis to award a team or an individual the title of “Champion.”

Measurement and analytics are the basis for all direct marketing.  The ability to track the performance of a campaign–to test subject lines, envelopes, formats, or headlines–is paramount in determining the winning combination.

Analytics for direct marketing can take on many forms.  The most important first step is to define how you want a campaign to be measured.  What are the key metrics that will equal success?  Is it cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-lead, or maybe lifetime value?  With those metrics in mind, you can begin to plan your campaign, knowing where the bar has been set when it comes time to analyze results.

While failure is never desired, learning what doesn’t work is often just as impactful as learning what does work.

After you know what you’re going to measure, you can set up tests that will start you down the path of optimization.  We recommend testing what you consider to be the most impactful variables first.  Is it an email subject line?  The headline on a banner ad?  A self-mailer vs an official #10 envelope?  Analytics will extract the winning and losing elements, but it doesn’t stop there.

Analytics can also tell you what your customers look like.  Effective regression modeling can give you a profile of their age, income & spending history–as well as track their performance by marketing channel.  Ultimately, modeling should tell us the ideal prospects we should target for the future marketing of your products or services.

At SeQuel, we thrive on analytics.  We seek to thoroughly measure and assess every program we manage–even though it might cause us some pain.  We believe that measurability leads to accountability, which generally leads to better and better performances.  In direct marketing, we can never rest on our achievements–we must constantly be looking for that next winner.

SeQuel is very excited to be introducing a new marketing instrument this year, which will go a long way toward assisting our clients in finding their “champions.”  We believe the tool called sQoreboard, a proprietary online campaign analytics tool, will take direct marketing results analysis to the next level.

As a platform formatted for web, mobile and tablet interfaces, sQoreboard is able to automatically analyze the impact of each element of our client’s campaigns–per list, per package, per offer, per channel, etc.  It is accessible 24/7 through a secure web portal, allowing clients to monitor the progress of their campaigns anywhere, any time.

Analytics through SeQuel will take out the guesswork and deliver sophisticated reporting in an expedited and convenient fashion.  You can get real-time dashboards, accurate reports and customized information that will be focused on your most critical metrics.

Win, lose or draw, SeQuel will help you find a new control faster.


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We all heard it was coming, but a postage increase three times the norm was NOT predicted by anyone in the mailing industry. While it’s true, the Postal Regulatory Commission recently hit direct mailers with a substantial increase, there’s no need to panic. SeQuel Response has outlined below five steps that you can take to help offset the escalation of postage in 2014.

What happened?

On December 24, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the U.S. Postal Service’s full 4.3% request for an exigent rate hike on Standard Mail, affecting magazines, newspapers and direct mailers. This is in addition to a cost-of-living increase of 1.6%, bringing the total increase to 5.9%.

Stamps for first-class letters will go up 3 cents to 49 cents on January 26, while bulk mail and periodicals rise 6%, a serious issue for mail-dependent industries.

Why the increase?

In its decision, the PRC blamed the Great Recession of 2008-2009 for the extreme increase. The Postal Service was looking to be reimbursed for exigent losses, determined to be $2.8 billion, to cover 25.3 billion pieces of volume lost between 2008 and 2011, according to PRC chairman Ruth Goldway.

Unfortunately for mailers, political infighting won’t solve the issues we face related to our cost-per-piece; instead, we must navigate this cost impact on our own.

How can I offset the increase?

SeQuel’s VP of Purchasing and resident postal expert, Paula Phipps, suggests five critical tactics direct mailers can employ to help minimize the postal rate increase:

  1. Switch to Standard Mail: With one low price for up to 3.3 ounces, switching to Standard Mail makes sense in certain situations. When you are sending 200 pieces or more (or 50 lbs or more) of marketing mail, newsletters or other mass communications, Standard Mail rates will save you money.
  2. Presort Software: Look for software that is CASS and PAVE certified. These features will increase your accuracy and help you comply with Postal Service requirements.
  3. Mailstream automation solutions: Design your mail pieces for efficient processing and avoid the significant cost increases of non-machinable mail. Qualifying for presort automation rates can cut postal costs even more. You’ll need to print a delivery point barcode on each mail piece and use an address list that has been validated against USPS databases.
  4. Avoid Flats: Depending on the type of presort that you execute, postage for a flat size mail piece could be more than double the cost of a letter-size mail piece. Converting mail pieces from flat mail to letter-size is one of the easiest ways to cut costs and mitigate the rate increase.
  5. Entry Point discounts: Transport your mail to a Network Distribution Center or Sectional Center Facility and use commingling for even greater savings.  This strategy could even speed up the delivery of your mail. Mailers who enter their mail closer to the delivery destination can save up to 18% in postage.

To summarize:

  1. Use Standard Mail vs. First Class whenever possible.
  2. Always take advantage of automated software and presorts.
  3. Meet all standards, rules and regulations for maximum efficiencies.
  4. Use a readable barcode to be as accurate as possible.
  5. Ship mail directly to NDCs and SCFs and use commingling where possible.


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It was a good year for direct mail last year.  With a national spend of more than $51 billion and general acceptance as the ROI leader among all direct marketing channels (telemarketing, DRTV, Internet Search & Internet Display), direct mail remains a very relevant and effective marketing channel, poised for growth this year and beyond.

In a recent “channel preference study” sponsored by ExactTarget, consumers stated that direct mail was by far their preferred method of messaging from companies that they had not previously heard from.  In essence, consumers have spoken:  “If you want to sell me something and I’ve not done business with you before, please send me a direct mail piece.”

The outcome of this survey explains why many marketers refer to direct mail as their “conversion channel.”  Television, radio, print and online advertising are of great value in providing product exposure and brand awareness, as well as some conversions.  In our opinion, these channels are especially effective at “greasing the skids” for the consumer to more carefully consider an offer in the mail–first by helping to compel them to open the package, and then hopefully to read it & respond.  We’ve found that direct mail is fully optimized when dropped in conjunction with a variety of alternative media.

SeQuel Response serves a number of clients who invest heavily into an integrated marketing approach–spreading their spend strategically across multiple channels in order to maximize conversion.  In other cases, SeQuel customers are using mail as their primary marketing tool, with their only other significant investment into online advertising. In both scenarios we’ve seen noteworthy campaign volume increases over the last two years due to consistently improving sales rates and a reduction in the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) through ongoing testing.

We expect this trend to continue this year.  We’re planning to refine the methods we’ve been using to get our clients’ campaigns where they are today, and we will explore numerous alternative angles to try to add a few percentage points to the sales rate and/or extract another $5-$10 from the CPA.

In our annual client planning & budgeting sessions for this year, we have emphasized the following strategies in hopes of taking their direct mail campaigns to the next level.  Compare and contrast these “Direct Marketing Resolutions” to your resolutions for this year–are you missing anything?

Direct Marketing Resolutions for SeQuel Response this new year:

  1. Model Maximization.  If you have an existing model, don’t fall in love with it. Test against your control model with alternative data platforms. Last year we saw a 30% lift in response for one client simply through the incorporation of a new model.  Another good discipline is to regularly rebuild your current model based on its most recent performance trends.
  2. Tenacious Testing. Whether your campaign is improving or declining, testing must be a staple within each program you drop.  We can never relax in our testing as we know that every control package eventually starts to dip in performance.   It may take three months, 12 months or three years, but the lifespan of every control is usually measured in months–not years. Therefore, dedicate a portion of your budget each month (5% – 10%) so that you can continually test creative, offer & data.  Your next 25% lift might be just around the corner!
  3. Responsible Resting.  Be sure to examine the frequency & timing of each of your campaigns.  How many times will a prospect or current customer see an offer from you this year?  Measure the impact of one touch vs. two touches vs. three touches, etc.  Determine whether or not the same package & offer to the same consumer works better than rotating creative packages or offers.  Fatigue can bring an early demise to the creative, offer or list if we’re not careful to track how often we mail a consumer and how much rest we’re giving them in between drops.
  4. Prudent Postage.  Our friends at the USPS just hit the industry with one of the most aggressive price increases we’ve seen in decades (a 4.3% – 6% increase for standard mail this year.)  That was an unexpected punch to the gut!  Rather than lick our wounds and reduce mail volume or frequency, it’s time to fight back with even more efficient postal strategies.  BMC & SCF shipping techniques–along with co-mingling your mail–can help to offset as much as 50% of the planned price increase (depending on your mail volume).