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What are the cardinal rules of testing?

What are the cardinal rules of testing?

Regardless of medium, testing is a surefire way to improve campaign profitability. Follow these pointers and you're on your way:

  1. First, test only what matters - Try a new brochure color? Maybe later. But focus initially on those elements with the biggest potential leverage for boosting response: price, offer, and list.


  2. Test often - Stay one step ahead of the competition by performing at least one major test every time you promote. It's not unusual for industry leaders to devote at least 10% of their entire marketing budget to testing and the quest for the next big thing.


  3. Test smart - Why test new elements that will be prohibitively expensive in rollout? Here's a tip: When weighing different test ideas, prepare a pro forma P&L showing the big financial picture in rollout for varying levels of test response. It's a good way of weeding out duds in your test plan before they bite you.


  4. Test one variable at a time - Curious how well a higher price point, new response premium, and new format will work for you? Be sure to test each SEPARATELY against your current control package, and to the same audience. This challenger/champion configuration will allow you to pinpoint the variable that is causing response to rise or fall.


  5. Know your numbers - The number of test pieces you mail is not as important as the number of responses you receive. Although there are computer programs that can help you with this calculation, my rule of thumb is to require a minimum of 300 responses in each test panel before I am 95% confident (i.e. the industry standard for testing) that I am reading results correctly. Only then do I feel safe rolling out a test package that is showing a double-digit percentage boost in response or average order.

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