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Big and Small Acq Tests That Matter.pptx

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Big and Small
Acquisition Tests that Matter
B R I D G E C O N F E R E N C E J U L Y 2 0 2 2

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Big and Small
Acquisition Tests that Matter
Michelle Le Margaret Espineli
Interim Senior Marketing Manager, Direct Mail
Do...

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Today’s Conversation | Take-aways
HowTo Use
AcquisitionTesting
(In Both Big And
Small Ways)To Help
Maximize Response,
Lowe...

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Big and Small Acq Tests That Matter.pptx

  1. 1. Big and Small Acquisition Tests that Matter B R I D G E C O N F E R E N C E J U L Y 2 0 2 2
  2. 2. Big and Small Acquisition Tests that Matter Michelle Le Margaret Espineli Interim Senior Marketing Manager, Direct Mail Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Account Director Lautman Maska Neill & Company Sara Hogan Development Services Manager Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
  3. 3. Today’s Conversation | Take-aways HowTo Use AcquisitionTesting (In Both Big And Small Ways)To Help Maximize Response, Lower Costs And Manage Supply Chain Nightmares Loads of acquisition tests that you can take back to your organizations Test learnings that will help you build on wins and pivot away from losses Ways to maximize response from long-standing control packages
  4. 4. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-USA), commonly referred to as Doctors Without Borders, works over 70 countries providing lifesaving medical care to victims of conflict, natural disasters, epidemics and healthcare exclusion. With a donor file size of 800,000+, massive Acquisition efforts to recruit donors are necessary to stem attrition and raise critical funds to help save lives around the world.
  5. 5. About the Mail Program • Over the past three yearsVolume has ranged from 23-36 million • In 2021, MSF acquired 193k new donors to support its lifesaving work • Acquisitions mail monthly • In 2019 MSF had 3 controls (one overseas and two domestically produced) • Today, there are 6 co-controls – combination of packages produced overseas and domestically, mailed in alternating months.
  6. 6. STRENGTHS • High volume • Strong Average gift • Multiple controls • MSF’s willingness to invest, test, and learn WEAKNESSES • Declining response of acquisition • Dependent on long standing controls • Hard to be nimble in mail OPPORTUNITIES • Seasonal controls • Room to grow • List expansion based on new topics THREATS • Supply chain issues • Increased costs • Economy • Winning controls dropping in response quickly SWOT Analysis
  7. 7. WHERE WE BEGAN Tote Control rolled out in 2018 1% response rate Average gift ranging from $40-$50
  8. 8. What does this control package look like today? You tell us.
  9. 9. TEST: “Zip” Envelope Goal • Save on costs • Produce a more environmentally friendly package Learning • No impact can still be a big
  10. 10. TEST: $1,000 Ask Goal • Improve average gift without hurting response Learning • Tested twice • Sometimes you have to accept defeat
  11. 11. PREMIUM SWAP: Flashlight Goal • Find a new premium to mitigate risk of tote fatigue Learning • Tested three times! • Sometimes you need to accept success!
  12. 12. CHANGE UP: Tote Design Goal • Understand if tote design makes a difference Learning • You can have more than one winner • Leverage learnings for other campaigns • Map and Slogan image are being used in other creative: stickers, bookmarks, coasters, etc.
  13. 13. PREMIUM SWAP: Facemask Goal • Increase response Learning • With a 2.4% response rate - some tests are worth fighting for • Strike while the iron is hot! • Some premiums only work for a moment in time.
  14. 14. TEST: 9x12 Envelope Goal • Increase response Learning • Bigger isn’t always better
  15. 15. PREMIUM ADD ON: Pen Goal • Increase response enough to offset additional cost Learning • Your control might just need a glow up, not an overhaul
  16. 16. TEST: Replace Tote with Labels Goal • Decrease costs while protecting response and/or average gift Learning • A longstanding control is one for a reason
  17. 17. TEST: Show Premium on Envelope Goal • Increase response Learning • If it’s a good premium, let donors know what they are getting
  18. 18. PREMIUM SWAPS!! Phone Sleeve Fanny Pack Multi-purpose Pen Eyeglass Case Pill Box Multi-purpose Pen!!
  19. 19. Premium Swap: Learnings Win big, fail fast Requires minimal resources You might love something, but that doesn’t mean your donors will Just because a premium works with another organization, doesn’t mean it will work for yours Keep on thinking of new ideas - while it’s hard to beat a long-standing control, there is always that one unicorn
  20. 20. MSF Control(s) Today
  21. 21. Big Budget Studios Are Rebooting,Why Can’tWe?
  22. 22. We (Fundraisers) Are The Ones Who Feel The Need To “Shake Things Up” • Only a small percentage of donors are opening acquisition mailings • And if they are…they aren’t comparing to every package you send them • Donors are responding to two simple criteria: • Is there a strong and heartfelt case for support? • Do they feel their gift is making an impact?
  23. 23. Reinventing the Wheel
  24. 24. What Do All These Packages Have In Common?
  25. 25. None of them beat the control they were up against. All of them took a tremendous amount of time and resources. We all really really loved every single one of these ideas.
  26. 26. REINVENTING A Winning Appeal Took What Was Working • No new copy required • Leveraged working components to create a new package • Minimal time and resources Changed What We Needed To: • 5 reasons vs. 10 • Converted winning acquisition letter lift note • Added winning label notepad, with winning design
  27. 27. Tuning Up the Wheel
  28. 28. Tuning Up the Nutrition Control
  29. 29. Change Up Brochure
  30. 30. Change Up Reply
  31. 31. Tuning Up the Map Control
  32. 32. What Is a Map?
  33. 33. How YOU Can Keep on Rolling… Take a look at what you’ve done in the past. What worked well…what didn’t? What have you tested? Is there something there that you can build on? How long ago did you conduct a test?Times have changed, consider retesting. Can a campaign from the past can be reused — with a few fresh takes. Take the time to brainstorm and you’ll uncover new “old” ways to engage your donors and increase revenue.
  34. 34. Our Mission: To preserve and share the history and traditions of the United States Marine Corps, namely through the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico,VA as well as outreach to the community.
  35. 35. About the Program • Acquisition volume has hovered around 1.5 million pieces split over four acquisitions for the past several years. • MCHF has historically enjoyed a strong response rate and healthy cost to acquire throughout the years • MCHF has one long-standing control package for outside lists with variations for lapsed reactivation.
  36. 36. The Challenges Keep Prospects Interested: How to motivate prospects to join despite construction of Museum being complete and having FREE admission Finite Audience: Contraction of Marine Corps size after Vietnam means only so many Marines to target, and no lists of “former” Marines.
  37. 37. The Solution: Slow & steady acquisition testing to improve a successful control. We are constantly adapting.
  38. 38. WHERE WE BEGAN
  39. 39. TEST: Note from the General Theory • Adding a handwritten note to the letter will make the seem more personal and cause prospects to sign up. Learning • Yes! The simple addition of a note the top of the letter improved response by 15%!
  40. 40. TEST: Sneak in a Bumper Sticker Theory • Adding a bumper sticker to the address label sheet will increase the perceived value and response – all without having to pay for an extra premium. Learning • Yup! Simply adding a bumper sticker (in place of some labels) generated nearly 20% more donors without any added expense!
  41. 41. TEST: Look at What They’re Buying Theory • By taking inspiration USMC merch that uses bright colors and busier designs, new address labels will improve response. Learning • Yes! 11% more new signed up.
  42. 42. TEST: Add Photo Cards Theory • Adding photo cards from “the archives” to show past and present of the Marine Corps, and the need to preserve all of it will help boost response. Learning • Yup! Response increased by nearly 20% and CTA decreased.
  43. 43. Test: Give More Information Theory • Fill up the back of labels with quotes and images to encourage prospects to join. Learning • Nope. More is not always better.
  44. 44. Test: People Give to People Theory • Tell stories of Marines and more donors will give! Learning • Nope. Sometimes, vaguer better. Know your audience.
  45. 45. TEST: Bold Their Name on Labels Theory • People like to see their names. Learning • 9% more new donors at less of an investment!
  46. 46. TEST: Give Them What They Want! Theory • Marines love stickers. Give them an Eagle, Globe and Anchor one, too! Learning • More new donors signed up and CTA decreased by 25%! More than paid itself. MCHF 08_13 Acq EGA Decal.indd 1 5/22/13 2:43 PM
  47. 47. TEST: Show MORE Labels Theory • Having two address labels show through the window will entice more folks to join. Learning • Yes! This simple change improved response without any added expense! M C H F 3 8 0 0 F E T T L E R P A R K D R I V E , S U I T E 1 0 4 D U M F R I E S , V A 2 2 0 2 5 Your Free“Semper Fi” Bumper Sticker Enclosed! C 05_15Acq Control ChrisQ. Sample 1730RhodeIsland Ave, NW S uite301 Washington, DC 20036
  48. 48. THE CONTROL TODAY MCHF 08_13 Acq EGA Decal.indd 1 5/22/13 2:43 PM
  49. 49. TEST: “Renew” Lapsed Donors Theory • Use strong renewal language and techniques with lapsed donors will improve without adding any extra Learning • Whoa! 25% more donors signed up, generating NET revenue.
  50. 50. TEST: Other Renewal Techniques Theory • Mixing up the sent to lapsed donors leveraging strong renewal packages sent to active donors will improve response. Learning • 20% more donors signed up, generating NET revenue.
  51. 51. As Long As You Are Printing Labels… Use Them to List Build!
  52. 52. QUESTIONS? Michelle Le Margaret Espineli margaret.espineli@newyork.msf.org mle@lautmandc.com Sara Hogan hogan@marineheritage.org

Editor's Notes

  • Eye-catching envelope – mailing in a box with Styrofoam to secure the tote
    Compelling letter from an MSF doctor
    Reply form with symbolic asks
    Informational brochure
    Upfront tote premium

    While the longstanding tote bag control package was still garnering an impressive response rate, it has seen a significant decline in recent years from its heyday response rate of over 1% – and expenses have continued to go up impacting the net/donor and overall investment.
  • 2019 test
    No impact on response or gift.
    Even though this test was not a winner, it didn’t lose. That was enough for us – we knew that costs were rising and the box OE wasn’t sustainable in terms of cost.
    Rolled out as a new envelope.


  • 2019 test
    Lowered response significantly both times
  • 2020 test
    Results seemed too good to be true (1.20% response rate) , so we kept on testing – at larger quantities.
    Find a mission based premium
    Became the new control in 2021


  • 2020 test
    Tests provide a lot of learnings that can be applied across your program, it doesn’t have to be isolated to the specific campaign you are testing.
    You will save on time and resources – instead of continuously redesigning new components, we’re leveraging these designs in new creative.
    Both designs increased response rate
  • 2019 test 2020
    Tested in the height of COVID
    Incredible 2.4% response rate
    Started to see fall off based on the environment
    When there was another surge in Fall/Winter of 2021, we saw response increase again
  • 2020
    Hurt response and average gift
  • 2020
    Increased response to 1.10%, average gift remained the same
  • 2021
    Tested prior to “Label gate” 2022
    Suppressed response significantly by half!
  • 2020
  • 2020 test
    1.42% response rate, lowered average gift slightly
  • 2020 test
  • Currently averaging over a 1% response rate and $50 average gift
  • If something works, use it again - but with a new twist
    We (fundraisers) are the ones who feel the need to “shake things up”
    Remember- a small percentage of donors are opening acquisition mailings
    And if they are…they aren’t comparing to every package you send them
    Donors are responding to two simple criteria:
    Is there a strong and heartfelt case for support?
    Do they feel their gift is making an impact?
  • 2020 test
    5 reasons beat the Nutrition control, increasing response by 12%, reducing the CTA by 14%
  • Longstanding control – 0.30% response rate and high average gift
    Lots of STUFF
    How could we move the needle with this control



  • Increased response, increased average gift by $6, and was cheaper to produce
  • Increased average gift when we sent to the coupon
    Second step was to increase response with the sticker blow on – currently in market
  • 2020 test
  • Annual Planner: Increased response, lowered average gift, but response was high enough to offset lower gift and overall CTA was lower with the planner
    Coasters – not a winner
  • The Challenges:

    MCHF’s work is ongoing. Year-in, year-out, the mission is the same – to preserve and honor USMC history. Timeless. But also the challenge is to keep that message compelling since there is not the lure of building construction or expansion.
    And in terms of audience, while we of course have many donors that are not directly affiliated with the Marine Corps and just believe in supporting the Armed Forces and preserving their history, the fact is, our bread and butter are Marines and their families. There is a finite group of them. In fact, like all branches of the Armed Forces, the USMC contracted in size after Vietnam so there are even fewer Marines who fall into the traditional direct mail age group than in the past – and they are being targeted by other non profits too. So we need to be able to a) target them and b) standout.
  • The solution: find something that works, and build off of it. Big believers in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And you often hear folks talk about “What’s not working and what we need to fix.” But just as important as finding the problems are also finding “what’s working. Build on that. And constantly stay at it.” So we’ll be showing you lots of examples of tweak tests.
  • This is the control package around 2009. A teaser on the OE promoting free address labels. A traditional four-page letter. A Semper Fidelis decal. A double sheet of address labels with patriotic images (eagle, flag, etc.). Over the next few slides, we’ll show how this package has evolved and remains essentially the same … but better.
  • Hearing from “the General” is really motivating to prospects. Nice personal touch.
  • The original labels were very “classic” – more high-brow Museum for lack of a better phrase. These labels were based off of what Marines buy to show their affiliation. We went on different websites/catalogs and looked at “Best Sellers” to see what folks were buying – and then gave them more of that.
  • Added two cards – one from Iwo Jima in 1945 with a faux “archive” note describing the scene. The second card from present day in Afghanistan with a note asking for help to tell their story.
  • Social proof is the idea that folks will join if they see others are joining. We thought that by filling up the back of labels with motivating quotes from other donors/visitors, it would spur increased giving. Nope. All because you have space doesn’t mean it needs to be filled.
  • This is really two tests. We’ve all heard how People give to people. We wanted to bring USMC history to life by highlighting specific events and/or people. In one case, we focused on the Battle of Marjah in Afghanistan. The package talked about the heroism of the Marines who served and included a sign and return card. In another case, we included a lift note from a Gold Star mother who had lost her son in Afghanistan. In addition to talking about her son, the letter mentioned how the Museum had been the backdrop for his last promotion and how the legacy of her son and his fellow Marines would be honored forever at the Museum.

    In both cases – response was lower. Fewer new donors. Our conclusion? For a cause like this where many of the people we are targeting are essentially the users (Marines at the National Museum of the Marine Corps) vaguer is better because it allows them to fill in the blanks with their own stories … their own legacy. Since then, we try and keep messaging broad.
  • If donors need to read stories to be motivated to join … maybe we can save money and write a shorter letter!
  • From previous testing, we knew having one address label show through the window improved response. So, why not give them more of what they like and show them TWO label designs? And sure enough – it worked!

    One thing to call attention to – we eventually changed the teaser on the OE to tout the bumper sticker and not the address labels. Why? Because you couldn’t see the bumper sticker inside – but you could see the address labels showing through the window.
  • 2020
  • For MCHF, we can effectively mail lapsed donors back 10 years, sometimes more. We also knew that we had seen big improvements in retention with ACTIVE donors by using renewal language and techniques. The idea – test using those same renewal techniques with lapsed donors in acquisition to reactivate. Donors still got address labels, decals, etc. We just adjusted envelope teasers, letters, format, etc.

    Results were VERY clear. Slightly varying package and adding renewal techniques – in this case a renewal teaser and a short letter emphasizing the fact that they’re lapsed (highlighting last gift, etc.) paid off with 25% more new donors!!!
  • Buiilding off of the renewal techniques – we adapted the most successful appeal, a Supporter Card package – for lapsed acquisition. It’s a typical two page supporter card renewal letter with a supporter card on the reply form. We did include labels, decals, etc. 20% more lapsed donors reactivated – resulting in NET revenue! This test was done in February, asking folks to renew for the year ahead. We have since also tested into sending this package to lapsed at the end of October as an “early” renewal. There, it created a 50% increase in response!!!
  • Email sent to prospects on email file asking them if they’d like to get free, personalized Marine Corps address labels. All they have to do is give their address! Then, they get thrown into the next acquisition. While not a huge quantity – it’s a great way to convert warm prospects to donors by leveraging what you already have! You can also do this with Facebook ads, etc.

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