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Case Study: A Recovery During a Recovery

Milestone has not taken the foot off the gas pedal throughout this health emergency, and we have positive numbers to report. A major Vehicle Service client (Client 1), who was seeing a dip in performance at the beginning of the year, has returned stronger than ever despite the economic concerns. Here's what we did and why it's working.

The Beginning of 2020

Client 1 is a major player in the Vehicle Service space, and they have consistently seen great results from the almost half a million mail pieces we send for them each week. As we monitored results from the beginning of this year, we observed some slippage in performance. We strive to get the lowest Cost per Sale (CPS) at all times, and our industry benchmark for success is generally set at $500 CPS or lower. By week 10, our CPS had risen above $700, and this had to be improved. Our data team and client success managers started digging into an explanation and looking for solutions to turn things around.

On a macro level, seasonal effects and overall consumer sentiment will play a role in many industries. The post-holiday season generally sees a dip in marketing spend as companies anticipate some consumer spending exhaustion (with 3 kids, I know me and my wallet get exhausted). We generally calculate for this dip, and this year was no different. By late February, economic anxiety was increasing. Normally, people would be excited to spend their tax return on some improved quality of life, but that was clearly not the case. This client was not alone in this outcome.

On a micro level, creative layout and target markets must be considered. Consumer fatigue is a constant battle, and we concluded that a certain design we were using had run its course. Luckily, we have a decade's worth of performance data on a wide range of creatives, and we had a plan to cycle another in. We also identified that certain demographics were less likely responders and re-weighted our algorithms. This targeting model is constantly updating, but when the numbers are disappointing, we take a closer look.

Weathering the Storm

By week 10 of 2020, we were in the CPS dog house. But the creative and targeting adaptation had already begun. The process to find the right people in a sea of millions of data records is complicated and sophisticated, and I won't try to explain it today. Needless to say, we found great candidates for our clients and the creatives converted to responses, and the responses converted to sales.

By week 12, we had fully transitioned to new designs in multiple mediums. We rotated our postcard creative with another postcard design trending upward. We personalized aspects of the design in collaboration with our print house. Seeing your name on a letter is one thing, but we added additional details specific to their state that leaves the reader with a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Our next major tactic that really turned the course was our use of multi-channel creative messaging, specifically a vehicle image theme. We coordinated different drops to the same potential customers that included a stock image of their vehicle. The first week they would receive a postcard and the next week they'd see a personalized letter with the vehicle on top, or vice versa. This omni-channel approach with integrated personalized messaging is a real game changer as I've mentioned in a previous blog post. Take a look at our results:

FIGURE 1: Client 1 Cost per Sale, Week 1 - 17

Going Forward

A major factor in guaranteeing our clients' satisfaction has been our own growth, and not just in the size of our databases. In March, we welcomed a new client success manager and this has allowed the account load to be spread out. Each client has its own challenges, and with more individual attention and less distractions, we are able to offer industry-leading direct mail services with our unique and innovative data modeling.

The industry experiences these blips in performance fairly often, and Milestone has made a habit of turning things around quickly. We must thank the brilliant data team and executive staff with over 40 years experience in direct mail marketing. If your company isn't seeing the recovery you were hoping, or you don't feel you're getting the personal service to guarantee success, then reach out today! Thanks.

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