Insight: A new statistical system for LMN&C clients is unveiled!
Lautman Maska Neill & Company is proud to announce the official release of Insight — a new, proprietary analytical system developed exclusively for our clients! After a year of rigorous beta testing, Insight has been perfected to address the most pressing analytic needs of the many organizations with whom we work. We are excited to be able to provide a deeper level of analysis than ever before.
You may ask what a 'deeper level of analysis' really means. With just a simple gift file download and the click of a button, Insight can report on campaign and test results at the summary, package, and segment level — along with cash flow/revenue curve graphical representation. Segmentation reports are not just limited to one campaign — multiple campaigns can be reviewed together to determine the best donors and outside lists to target. And, annual summary reports are generated instantly by Insight to compare actual results against projections and goals.
Want to know how a new package test performed against a control? Insight features a testing report function that determines a statistically significant 90% confidence interval and whether there was a winner at both the package and segment level. And, an extensive testing library within Insight includes an historical record of all test results so that we can see the testing trends across clients.
Are you ready for Insight? With the beta phase now complete, and five organizations already up and running, we are now phasing in our next round of clients so they too can take advantage of the advanced analysis Insight provides. For more information on how to get started, please contact your account team or email Bryan Evangelista, Senior Account Executive and Insight Project Leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Involvement devices — are they worth the back-end pain?
Ever wonder if involvement devices are worth the additional effort they require, since they have to be collected and distributed at the back-end? While every organization is different, as a general rule, engagement techniques work and are well worth the additional effort they require.
One organization we work with has an acquisition package with a reply form that includes a petition to government officials. Donors are asked to sign and return the petition with their gift. The package performs well, but separating and distributing the petitions takes time and money. So, we decided to do a 3-way test — to learn once and for all if the strong performance hinged on the petition.
The petition control was tested against:
1. A reply form with a short survey on the bottom, in place of the petition.
2. A reply form without any engagement device at all.
You may ask why we tested the survey — since it's still an involvement device. We did so, because our hunch was that we needed to offer prospects something else to "do" while making their gift, in order to achieve a strong response rate. The survey is a little less painful on the back-end, because it does not need to be separated and distributed like a petition does.
Can you guess what the results were?
The petition was the clear winner at a 90% confidence interval — beating both test panels in terms of response rate and gross dollars per thousand. The survey worked better than the plain reply — but it had 110 fewer gifts than the control.
So, this organization is still "stuck" with the back-end task of handling petitions, but they are also raising more money and finding many new donors!
The takeaway message is that writing a check to your organization is not enough for most donors. They want to participate and have a voice within your organization. When we give them the chance to do so, they are more likely to send a check as well.
So, if you're not offering engagement devices in your mail — start testing them now!
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What's up with the Intelligent Mail Barcode?
The USPS again postponed implementation of the IMb (Intelligent Mail Barcode) that was (re)scheduled for May 2011. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe says: "We heard concerns that we were moving too fast on discontinuing POSTNET coding, and we will continue to offer the automation prices for mail with POSTNET barcodes beyond May 2011."
Too fast? For whom? Original implementation of the IMb was set for 2009 but has been delayed several times. All signs pointed for a
non-negotiable implementation in May 2011 though, and it seemed like mailers and facilities that process mail were ready for this. Apparently not.
While implementation of the IMb has been put on indefinite hold, that doesn't mean you should hold, too. If you haven't already, you should obtain a Mailer ID number in order to obtain a USPS approved IMb for your outgoing and incoming pieces.
The IMb, which has been used on more than 41 billion pieces (per the USPS), allows mailers a breadth of services originally only available using a POSTNET barcode and a PLANET code. Services like tracking outgoing and incoming mail down to the specific piece if desired.
If you haven't already made the switch to the IMb, do so now. Be ready for the day when USPS eliminates the POSTNET barcode and actually does implement the IMb.
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Ask The LMN"X"pert!
Welcome to this installment of Ask the LMN"X"pert! We've gotten a number of requests to review how to strategize and set up a simple testing structure. The front end of a test is key — since all the hard work that goes into planning and implementing can be lost if the results can't be interpreted because there is a flaw in the test's integrity. So this go-around, we'll walk our readers through the basics of the strategy and structure of a test — to allow for the best chance at valid, readable outcomes.
Choose ONE variable to test.
Isolating one variable for your test is the only way to get a clear result. If you have more than one variable in a given test, it's impossible to be sure which change caused the package to work well (or not). For example, testing a new dollar string and a teaser in the same test panels would muddy the result, and make it unclear which of the two variables is impacting the performance.
Create panels that are random and proportional.
The test panels should represent equivalent portions of the overall data you are mailing (or emailing, or calling). Splitting the data in a random and proportional way across your test panels is referred to as an "nth" select — doing an nth ensures that the data in each panel is a truly random cross-section of the overall data, so a test result is not skewed because the data is not properly split. For instance, if one panel contained a greater number of higher dollar donors, or fewer recent donors, this would likely make the test unreadable, since the audience for the panels is not essentially the same.
Create panels that will be large enough to provide readable results.
You want to be sure that you can expect enough responses to have a statistically valid result. For instance, if you want a statistically valid read, and you are projecting a 1% for the response, you would need panels of at least 30,000 names each to get 300 responses per panel. Or, mathematically:
300 responses = 30,000 names per panel x 1% (.01)
There are times when you have no choice but to test smaller quantities. If so, consider these results as a trend and plan to retest to confirm.
Test seemingly simple aspects of the package.
Some of the most important tests are those that validate (or revalidate) something basic or simple — like BRE vs. CRE, specifics of your dollar ask, blind vs. logo envelope, et cetera. And these basic direct marketing variables are easy to plug into a test slot without a lot of prep. So, test the variables in your mail often — one in every effort if you can!
Drop us a line if you have some specific testing scenarios that you need help puzzling through.
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Client Profile: Ronald McDonald House of Durham, North Carolina
Every year, thousands of anxious parents from all over the United States and several foreign countries seek lifesaving care for their critically ill children at Duke Children's Hospital and WakeMed Children's Hospital in the North Carolina "Triad" region. These families face overwhelming medical expenses and tremendous emotional strain as they try to maintain a reasonably normal life — often hundreds, or even thousands of miles from their homes.
The Ronald McDonald House of Durham, North Carolina, along with more than 300 other Houses in cities and towns around the world, is a unique solution for families facing the challenges of a seriously ill child. They provide a true "home away from home" as an alternative to expensive extended hotel stays, or even sleeping in hospital waiting rooms or the family car for days or weeks on end. The Durham House is filled to capacity every night, and despite repurposing office and other spaces into additional rooms, the daily waiting list still averages 8 to 12 families.
But now, a capital campaign for the Durham House is underway, and the resulting expansion will double the number of families that can stay at the House.
With this major build, the House will be able to help many more families in need — particularly those needing organ and cord blood transplants for children, which is a specialty of Duke Children's Hospital. To keep better pace with the Hospital's transplant caseload, all 28 of the new rooms will be suites. These self-contained, small apartments will provide the controlled conditions needed for recovery, while still allowing a guest family the benefit of being immersed in the "community" of the Ronald McDonald House of Durham.
This communal interaction and sense of extended family the House and the staff provides its guests is just as important as the treatments and transplants themselves. For Executive Director Bill Donovan, his biggest realization since he came to the Durham House over a year ago is the tremendous impact the House has in its ability to play a social and emotional role for its guests — giving hope, and often another chance for a desperately ill child. With the empathy, support and love of so many other kids and parents traveling the same journey, the House is a special environment that has no parallel.
Just ask one of the kids — like Elmer — how special the Ronald McDonald House of Durham is to him. Elmer is a 4-year-old boy who has spent every one of his birthdays at the Durham House. He and his mom have been guests at the House on and off since he was an infant during his treatments for Krabbe disease, which causes degeneration of the central nervous system and is often fatal. Elmer's mother says it best: "I am fighting for Elmer." The Durham House provides the basic comforts of home and crucial moral support for Elmer and his Mom during their extended stays, so they can focus on their fight for survival.
For Bill Donovan and his staff, easing the logistical, financial and emotional burden of these families in their time of need is a labor of love. For those who stay at the House, this environment of hope and support is nothing short of a godsend.
Lautman Maska Neill & Company is proud to partner with the Ronald McDonald House of Durham — and we look forward to helping them meet their goals for the expansion, and beyond. Groundbreaking for the addition is planned for the end of this year, to open by January 1, 2013. To learn more about the Durham House, please visit: www.ronaldhousedurham.org.
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