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How To Lose The Direct Response Game

Why do we under-test?

Here are some lessons from the winning Obama Campaign, via Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

I love this article because it neatly demonstrates what all marketers who use direct response tactics should know, but typically don’t. It gives some great examples of what marketers using direct response tactics should do, but overwhelmingly don’t. And it shows the results, including the large sums of money that most marketers leave on the table.

Their marketing crime: under-testing.

Listen to the leader from the successful email marketing leader of the Obama Campaign (JUMP), “We did extensive A-B testing not just on the subject lines and the amount of money we would ask people for,” says Amelia Showalter, director of digital analytics, “but on the messages themselves and even the formatting.” The article goes on to say that the campaign would test multiple drafts and subject lines—often as many as 18 variations—before picking a winner to roll out to tens of millions of subscribers.

18 variations. Like we did in the old days. Like we still do today. Because doing less means leaving significant green on the table.

There’s even a neat chart in the article that shows exactly how much money would have been lost by rolling out poorer performing emails. In short, millions.

Shouldn’t we all think and test this way. Since we can’t take for granted that our competition will not, we should. Since we can’t count on the economy saving us, we must. Since we can’t expect yesterday’s successes to carry us into the future, we’d better get to it.

Why do you test? Because, you just just don’t know, numbskull! Again, listen to the successful campaign leader, “We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” Amen.

Direct marketing testing leads to humility. Humility leads to more testing. More testing leads to success.

This is what we practice at DiMassimo Goldstein. It’s the heart of the “driven” part of “Brand. Driven. Growth.”

There’s a lot more to be learned by close reading of this article. Check it out here.