We're exploring a problem that might not have any good solution, beyond the obvious limited solution.
The Business Services (B2B) portion of our company generates and delivers a vast amount of direct mail advertising to prospective customers. We have no way of really knowing what percentage of our direct mail:
- Is opened by anyone (could include administrative assistants, e.g.)
- Reaches the desk of the appropriate decision-influencer or decision-maker in the organization
- Is actually read by the appropriate decision-influencer or decision-maker
- Changes the recipient's attitude and image/perception of our company
We are conducting an ongoing tracker of attitude and image, and we do ask about direct mail's influence, but we're really hoping to get deeper answers to the questions I've outlined above. Other than placing a radio-frequency "bug" inside every outbound mail piece that notifies headquarters with a tracking signal when the mail is opened (I'm joking, but you get the idea of our objective), what are some good research methodologies for better understanding what happens to a direct mail piece, once it arrives at its destination?
Our current leading proposal is to simply contact non-subscriber businesses, engage with the decision-influencers/makers, and ask (unaided) what brands of direct mail they recall receiving in the past 90 days, ask them how they typically handle such mail (does an admin screen the mail, do they dispose of mail without opening, etc.), and then finally ask (aided) if they recall a specific mail message or offer from our company versus those from competitor companies.
An interesting other proposal would be to send out a direct mail envelope that looks just like any of our other marketing pieces, but inside would be an invitation for the person who is first reading it to complete a 2-minute IVR or web survey (for a very generous incentive, to minimize participation bias), and use that survey to understand if the person opening it is a decision-maker or an administrative "screener" of mail, and ask a question or two about how marketing offers for our services are typically handled.
I welcome any ideas from left field, or discussion of tried-and-true practices.