A Smarter, Automated Way To Send Direct Mail

CBE is the innovative marketing tool that makes all of the other tools in your kit — even your older, more traditional tools — smarter, more effective … better.

Take direct mail marketing, for instance.

In a recent controlled Capture Labs test across three of Capture Higher Ed’s partners, students who received a CBE-generated triggered postcard were twice as likely to apply than similar students who didn’t receive the postcard. Further, sending individual, triggered direct mail marketing pieces was almost six times more cost effective in generating applications than sending bulk direct mail.

From February through early July, CBE Product Manager Jackie Pratt led a test of this new approach to direct mail. Through a third-party vendor — Lob — Capture sent a postcard to students who hadn’t applied yet, but who visited certain pages on the partners’ websites multiple times during the time frame.

CBE monitors behavior on our partners’ websites so that we can learn more about what students are looking for and send them targeted messages in real time.

Because visiting two admissions-related pages is a strong indicator on its own that a student is interested in applying, we also looked at a comparison group of students who met the rule set but weren’t delivered postcards. We didn’t send a postcard to these students either because their address information was incomplete, they were identified after meeting the rule set or they were superseded by a different dynamic content rule set such as a toaster urging them to apply right now.

While some of these factors may have made them more likely to apply and other factors made them less likely to apply, this is a reasonable comparison set, even if it isn’t a true control group.

The results are positive: 15 percent of the students who received postcards went on to apply; 7 percent of the comparison group applied.

One of the schools — a private, Catholic university in Kentucky — saw an impressive 25 percent of their students who received a postcard go on to apply. Only 8 percent of the comparison applied.

We built a random effects model to control for the effect of different schools. The results of that model indicate that for about every 15 students who we sent a postcard, we were able to influence one extra student to apply. That adds up to about $23 for each additional applicant.

This seems to be a more powerful way to target direct mail than we’ve tried in the past. During the fall, we found that for every $132 in direct mail, we got one more applicant.

Since this was a small sample, we can’t be certain the positive results will hold up in the future. But with results like these, we’d be foolish not to expand our usage of CBE to target direct mail marketing pieces to engaged students.

By John Foster, Data Analyst, Capture Higher Ed