How to follow up marketing activity

Tips to increase sales by identifying, using key factors

Companies often drift along without making major changes, especially after they’ve established their core product, brand and marketing activities. Unfortunately, this can be like standing still whilst competitors steam ahead.

Thankfully, there’s a technique borrowed from direct marketing which can help – testing. Changing one thing at a time and measuring the difference in results can be a hugely powerful technique to generate more sales, if used systematically.

The first step is to identify the things worth testing. Some factors have a bigger impact than others, so these are obviously the priority areas. The order of priority is generally considered by the UK’s Institute of Direct Marketing to be;

  • Audience
  • Media
  • Proposition
  • Product
  • Offer
  • Timing
  • Formats
  • Creative
  • Audience

Perhaps there is a group of people who are more receptive to your product or service that you haven’t considered. Similarly, there may be a group who you’ve targeted but who aren’t really interested so you would want to exclude them.


If you’ve always used local newspaper advertising you might find direct mail or online would be more effective. Perhaps a follow-up communication using a different media would work, for example, a call after a mailing, or an email after a letter.


Some companies advertise a single product to attract customers whilst others promote a wide range in the hope that something will appeal. Identify the product(s) most likely to generate interest in your offering and use that in your promotions.


Do you give an initial discount? Perhaps more people would buy if it was larger. Or would a smaller discount generate the same number of sales but make each sale more profitable?


This is particularly important when sending email campaigns although it is applicable to all media. Are there certain times which are more responsive than others?


There are different ways of using the same media, e.g. a postcard rather than a mailing pack or a half-page advert rather than the classified adverts.


This refers to the visual attractiveness of the piece. Would using blue rather than red generate a better response?

Increasing Response

The Direct Marketing Guide from the UK’s Institute of Direct Marketing suggests that selecting the right audience can generate a response 600% higher than before, whereas changing the creative may only generate a further 10%. The message is clear; focus on the big things that make a difference. Unfortunately most companies devote their time to making the creative attractive and appealing.

Testing is only reliable if a single item is isolated, changed and the results measured. If you think one group would respond better than all other groups, separate them out and compare the results from that group against the mailing as a whole.