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May 2007
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[ Producing the Job ]

For outputting the pieces, nDialogue enlisted the services of AlphaGraphics in Minneapolis. The company bills itself as a complete visual communications provider, offering design services to mailing from two locations in the Twin Cities area. AlphaGraphics produced the mailers on a Xerox DocuColor 6060 digital color press driven by a Creo Spire RIP, with Printable FusionPro software used to generate the variable data pieces.

The initial mailing drop included 3,750 pieces. Thereafter, 30 more mailers were sent out per week to follow up with people on the mailing list who didn’t respond to the initial piece they received.

[ The Results ]

The response rate for the static group was less than 1 percent, while nearly 4 percent (3.67 percent) of the people on the variable data mailing list responded by visiting their personalized URL or contacting Alerus directly. Plus, nearly 60 percent of those who applied for a loan were new customers. The breakdown of response rates by age group was: 25-36 year olds—3.98 percent; 37-45 year olds—3.23 percent; and 46-55 year olds—2.64 percent.

Alerus was not able to directly measure the response rate of the static piece, since its normal practice was to send out direct mail without incorporating any tracking mechanisms. Even though there was a toll-free number on the mailer, the number of calls coming in specifically as a result of the static piece could not be tracked directly. nDialogue estimated the response by matching the names on the applications and loans secured to those on the mailing lists for the static vs. variable pieces.

Along with looking at response rates in broad terms, nDialogue sought to test two marketing propositions.

1.) Would creating a different look for each demographic be more effective (produce better response rates) than using a common design/message for the whole group? The results showed that varying the creative for each demographic was more effective.

2.) How useful would it be for Alerus if results were tracked in detail, or not tracked at all? The fact that the 25-36 year old age segment had a higher response rate than the other variable segments, as well as the static mailer, would seem to indicate that detailed results tracking could enable the company to get a better ROI on its future marketing efforts. PI

This case study was derived from PODi’s Best Practices in Digital Print collection. With more than 300 case studies, it is the largest collection ever assembled of successful digital print projects. PODi is an industry initiative with hundreds of member companies, including executive board members EFI, HP, Pitney Bowes, Quark and Xerox. PODi members receive free access to the case studies as well as other resources including presentations, reports and online seminars. Membership in PODi is open to companies and organizations involved in digital printing. For more information on joining PODi or submitting your own case study, visit

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