The Art Of Isolating Testing Variables In Direct Mail

Courtney Henson
The Art Of Isolating Testing Variables In Direct Mail

Key Takeaways:

  • Test variables to enhance campaigns. Informed decisions optimize reaching target audiences effectively.
  • Isolate elements like headlines, offers, design, colors for targeted insights into campaign success.
  • Control group essential in direct mail. Accurate measurement via A/B testing aids future optimization.

Isolating Variables Provides Key Insights Into What Drives Responses And Conversions

Direct mail is a powerful marketing tool that allows businesses to reach their target audience in a tangible and personal way. Direct mail is all about testing and experimentation, and this includes isolating variables. Properly isolated testing variables can lead to improved direct mail campaigns due to cleaner results.

Remember back in high school chemistry when you learned about isolating variables in a scientific experiment to understand cause and effect? The same principle applies to direct mail campaigns. Isolating variables can help identify the specific factors that impact your campaign’s success or failure. This approach ultimately helps you make informed decisions about what works best and what needs improvement.

Not all variables are created equal and some will be more impactful. To isolate variables effectively, you need to identify and select the elements of your direct mail campaign that are worth testing. These variables can include headline, offer, call to action, design layout, colors, personalization, or even the envelope type. It’s important to focus on one variable at a time to obtain conclusive results.

Every science experiment has a control group, and every direct mail campaign should have a control group, too, or at least a group that represents your baseline or existing campaign. The control group should receive the same version of your mail without any changes to the variable you are testing. This allows you to measure the impact of the isolated variable accurately.

When you isolate a specific variable, we refer to it as A/B testing. For example, if you’re testing an offer, the control package has $50 off and the test package has $25 off. The other elements of the (control and test) packages are identical, including design, call to action, headlines, messaging, etc.

Once you determine your isolated variable and test cells, you can carefully track and measure the response rates and conversion rates of each test group. This data will help you evaluate the impact of the isolated variable on your campaign’s success when compared against the control group. It’s important to note that if you test multiple variables at once (e.g. photography, message, and design), it’s nearly impossible to understand what moved (or didn’t move) the needle. Slow and steady wins the race in direct mail. Isolating variables in direct mail can be a drawn-out, but rewarding process. Ideally, once you identify the impact of one variable, you can move on to testing another. Gradually, you will build a deeper understanding of how different variables influence your campaign’s performance, allowing you to optimize future mailings.

Remember, the key lies in choosing the right variables, creating controlled tests, and carefully measuring results. You can gain valuable insights into what drives response rates, conversions, and ultimately success by systematically testing and analyzing different variables. So, embrace the art of isolating variables and unlock the potential of your direct mail campaigns!


Gunderson Direct has long-lasting relationships with some of the country’s largest corporations, helping them to lower their customer acquisition costs and increase profits using address-based integrated direct marketing programs.

Drop us a line for more information on how our direct marketing expertise can help your business.

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Courtney Henson

A marketing extraordinaire with a passion for client services, project management, and driving results! When Courtney isn’t at work, she’s channeling Julia Child in the kitchen, going to the theater, or taking DIY to the next level.

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