Streamlining Processes & Improving Response Rates


A university client operated approximately 40 different executive education programs twice a year. Years prior to partnering with us they established a three-touch contact strategy that included a mix of emails and direct mail. The strategy was event triggered, meaning nine months before the start of a program the first contact was made. The second occurred at six months and the last touch was at the three-month mark. These solicitations largely targeted an internal database comprised of past session participants and hand raisers. A smaller population was established using third-party list rentals.


Reinvigorate the channel with new creative without sacrificing brand recognition or response rates.


Upon accepting the challenge, we began the process by conducting research with the target audience to better understand their needs and concerns when considering executive education. We also performed a competitive analysis to identify the school’s key differentiators and possible weaknesses. Using this data, the message was fine tuned and the graphics were updated.

Although the client was not looking to alter the contact strategy, we knew that the creative was only part of the equation. If they were to garner a substantial increase in response rates we would have to explore testing other areas.


In order to understand how the target would respond, we had to understand their perspective. We created a hypothetical “best-in-class” lead and produced an annual snapshot of what the contact strategy would look like for this person. It uncovered that this customer would have been contacted over 15 times a year with virtually identical messages. We set out to address this in three ways:


The first area to address was the monthly mailing schedule. Within one drop, between five to eight programs were being promoted. Because the data was pulled at the program level, one person could feasibly be in all eight mail files each month. We designed a program to commingle the month’s mail files to uncover duplicates. Those records were then placed into a different mail stream to receive one custom-made communication.

Decreased touch points for specific segments

Each lead in the database was a lead for different reasons – whether they requested a program brochure, attended a previous program or responded to a solicitation. Although they received different messages, all leads received the same three-touch contact strategy. TargetCom altered the contract stream for specific segments in order to decrease contact without sacrificing response.


When analyzing the database we realized that particular programs were feeders to other programs, meaning if a person attended Program A they were likely to attend Program B next. Arming ourselves with this data we designed a model to project which programs were likely to feed each other and developed a custom cross-sell strategy for those programs.


Once the changes were applied, customer satisfaction increased, production costs decreased, and results rates lifted 29%.

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