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Direct Marketing Testing Part 2: The List

This series explains The Verdi Group’s testing philosophy and provides important facts about testing in business-to-business direct marketing. Part Two focuses on the list, which is one of the most important – or the most important – component of your direct marketing efforts.

What’s the key to direct marketing success? At The Verdi Group, we believe it’s the mailing list. Your first concern should be ensuring that your email or direct mail piece falls into the hands of the most appropriate group of consumers.

Making the (budget-related) case for list testing

It’s true that list testing can add incremental costs to your budget, especially if you’re already fundingmultiple list rentals. But think about how much your company invests on a daily basis in systems, processes, research and development, and personnel in order to grow. When you consider how affordable list testing can be within the larger context of increasing your company’s sales, it’s a fairly modest proposition.

B2B list testing

In direct marketing campaigns, the challenge often lies in deciding which lists to test. With business-to-business lists, the choices are often much more limited than they are with business-to-consumer lists, particularly if your target audience numbers just a few hundred or a few thousand companies.

Here are a couple of testing opportunities to consider:

  • Test companies the next tier down in size (either in sales volume or number of employees)

  • Test adjacent job titles, e.g., vice presidents and directors, rather than just C-titles

Both tests look for individuals or companies who are on the move and striving to reach the next level. Evaluating your product may play a key role in reaching that goal.

How do I test?

Think back to your high school chemistry lab experiments. To get an accurate reading, you’d manipulate only one variable while keeping all other variables constant. The same is true for list testing. You need to keep the offer, the creative, the subject lines, and all other elements constant to produce reliable list test results.

Final words of advice

You may be tempted to test a wide range of components of your direct marketing campaign, but keep in mind that the list – and only the list – will have the greatest effect on your success. Always put your energy into testing your list first.

Overall, keep lobbying for testing. You may think you’re seeing only small improvements in response percentages, but those small improvements can translate into big sales dollars!

Need help with testing? We’d love to talk. Call Mary Bonaccio at 585-381-4275, extension 201. Or email her at

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