Claude C. Hopkins is acknowledged as the great grandfather of direct marketing. In 1923, Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising in which he declared that: “The time has come when advertising has in some hands reached the status of a science.” 1
His fundamental marketing thesis was: “We learn the principles and prove them by repeated tests. This is done through keyed advertising by traced returns . . . We compare one way with many others, backward and forward, and record the results. When one method invariably proves best, that method becomes a fixed principle.” 2
Today, his premise of testing is as true as ever. In fact, testing may even be more important now because the vast array of options available to marketers. A test can mean the difference between a stunning success for a product or an abject failure.
And because of the larger quantities and costs involved, testing is a particular necessity and an ideal opportunity when it comes to membership recruitment.
It is not uncommon to see a successful test change response rates by the following percentages:
• List tests – Can impact response by 500 percent.
• Offer tests – Can impact response by 200 percent.
• Creative tests – Can impact response by 100 percent.
These test outcomes highlight that by doing the same old thing over and over again, there is likelihood that a marketing program is substantially sub-optimizing the potential returns that could be achieved.
If testing is so important, then how should it be done?