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People Watching

Improve customer engagement through careful observation.

Focus GroupWhen we want to understand whether our direct mail efforts are working, we tend to look at metrics like response rates, conversion rates, and ROI. But how often do we look at the why? Why are respondents acting as they do? Why did this month’s offer work better than last month’s?

To understand why customers and prospects act as they do, an increasing number of marketers are doing observational tests. They are bringing people into their offices and watching them interact with their direct mail pieces and seeing how they behave.

For example, if you are testing personalized versus non-personalized envelopes, does the personalization increase the amount of time the person spends looking at the envelope?

How about the contents of the mailer or package? How much time do participants spend reading the personalized materials versus the non-personalized materials?

If the mailer includes multiple pieces, which pieces do participants look at first? In one observational study, the marketer discovered that 20% of its sample looked at the product brochure before looking at anything else. In another, it discovered that 30% of its sample opened the package upside-down, so they were viewing the contents in reverse order from what the marketer intended.

You can also test the power of different offers. For example, even if two offers save them the same amount of money, people will often react differently to those offers based on how they are presented. Are participants most likely to react to 30% off? Or does “Buy Two, Get One Free” garner the best response? Do they take time to think about it? Or do they grab the offer and “respond” right away? Likewise, if you are promoting a discount, does it make a difference if you present the offer in terms of a one-time savings? Monthly savings? Or yearly savings? An observational test will allow you to watch how people interact with each one.

Another way to gain insight is to use focus groups. In a focus group, you bring multiple participants around a table, show them different marketing pieces, and ask them questions together. It gives you a chance to ask questions in a more interactive environment and understand their motivations and perceptions more deeply.