Because Alerus had not used tracking mechanisms for its previous direct marketing efforts, nDialogue created a test segment similar to the kinds of mailings the financial institution had done in the past. This static program involved sending one self-mailer that employed the same creative used for the middle age group of the variable data segment. The same offer was made to the static and variable data segments, but only a single toll-free number was offered as the response device.

[ 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.

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