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OK, Kiddo, here's the guts of direct mail.
From Nicholas on 20 June '98
adding to Re: Off Web Promotion Of Websites. posted by Jim

Direct mail was a science before we were born.

A mailing can get "returns" of anywhere from 0% to
100%. The latter was the "house list" of a fishing
resort that sent their regulars a postcard with a
two word pitch: "They're biting."

The target most often quoted for success is 2-3%
"returns." I have no idea how this figure became
such an icon. Some products only need a .01 percent
return to "pay out." Others have to hit 10% (usually
unachievable). You have to run the numbers.

The basic elements of success are:

The list, the list, the list. This doesn't mean you
have to buy a list. Amateurs often do quite well
plucking names out of the phone book.

Price point.

Cost of goods.

Cost of mailing, including everything to the last
little piece of paper.

The offer.

The guarantee. Unconditional pays out best, but watch
it if you have a high-priced product going to flakos.

Tell them what to do, in no uncertain terms. If
they've reached the end, they want to know. Tell them:
"Call xxx-xxxx from 9 to 5 am, Eastern Time and ask for
Joe Magician." Or whatever.

This is all established fact. Moving on to debate:

Conventional wisdom holds that you cannot test
scientifically with less than 10k "pieces" mailed.
I disagree, and believe testing can be done with
as little as 200-300 pieces if you're working a
well-thought-out list.

Back to fact:

But test. Think. And tear apart your successes
and failures from A to Z. A single mis-step can
slaughter you in direct mail. A single phrase
added or dropped can increase sales by 200% or
decrease sales by 95%.

Is anyone wondering whether the same is true
on a Web site?

Probably. But the numbers haven't come in yet
in sufficient volume to prove it.

PS. "Return" simply means replies. Sometimes
in a "one-step sale", this equals sales. In a
"two-step", you need to "convert" replies to

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