So, Uh, Are We Doing This Right?
However, more and more organizations have managed to create single, shared databases that capture information concerning all solicitations and all donor transactions in one location. These solutions are mostly offered by independent direct-mail database service bureaus that have expanded beyond direct mail and linked to vendors working in other channels. Online vendors and those that track direct-response television (DRTV) generally don’t have the capabilities to manage direct-mail programs.
Very often these solutions require periodic data syncing or downloading of data from a single-channel vendor (e.g., online) to the main database (data processing service bureau). There are very few truly integrated and automated database solutions, and they are generally quite expensive and often require you to work only with that vendor’s channel marketing partners. The best solutions are either commonly used direct-mail database solutions that can be expanded or linked using “open source” software with which you or any consultant or vendor you hire can plug in the data from a new channel without massive fees, programming costs or database design limitations.
Designing Meaningful Tests
If you are fortunate enough to have created a single, integrated database, your next challenge is to design meaningful tests. The old, single-channel, single-variable “split tests” may not be sufficient.
For example, if you are wondering if direct-mail copy A is better than direct-mail copy B, you could simply run an A vs. B split test to a random sample of the universe of names being mailed. Assuming you designed the test correctly and only changed one variable at a time (here it would be the copy), you could easily measure which copy “won” or did better according to appropriate measures like percent response, average gift, income per 1,000 letters mailed or long-term value. Thus, judging the results is straightforward.
But how do you do that same copy test when you are simultaneously engaged in: 1) telemarketing to some of those same donors, 2) running DRTV ads to recruit monthly donors, and 3) e-mailing some of those same donors?