Case Study: Postal Solutions
Postal Solutions is a consulting agency based in Belgium whose clients are national postal agencies. Postal Solutions specializes in helping its clients develop products and services to build the volume of direct mail. While advertisers in the United States know how effective direct mail can be, it is an underused tool in many other parts of the world, according to Postal Solutions. In the United States, 40% of all advertising dollars is spent on direct mail – even more than what is spent on advertising via television. In other countries, the percentage of advertising budgets spent on direct mail is far smaller.
Business Challenge #1: Gathering Data on a Global Scale
Despite the size and importance of the direct mail industry around the world, there is little data that can be compared across markets, making it difficult to identify what is working where and why. Postal solution wanted to:
- Identify which countries have been successful in developing their direct mail markets and why.
- Quickly collect this data in over 150 countries.
Managing a study of this scale was, to say the least, extraordinarily complex.
Postal Solutions decided to use the Apian SurveyPro family of products to design and manage surveys, and to analyze the respondents’ data. Because of the differing levels of technology available at different postal services, Postal Solutions chose to host parallel surveys using multiple formats. All participants were sent a printed survey by mail. In addition, all participants with email addresses were sent an email announcement that included a link to a web-based survey, giving them the option of responding either by web or by traditional mail. As needed, some participants were also contacted by telephone. As new users of the software, Postal Solutions had questions during survey creation and hosting. When they called Apian Technical Support, they were pleased to find the response both helpful and effective.
By hosting parallel surveys in a range of formats, Postal Solutions was able to receive a 70% combined response rate over a three month period of research. Offering a web-based survey option significantly improved the response rate:
- Of those who received only the printed survey by mail (and no email announcement), 32% responded.
- Of those who received an email announcement, 41% responded, either via the web-based survey or the printed survey.
- Within this group of respondents, 60% chose to respond using the web-based survey option.
Note: Multiple surveys were sent to reach the 70% coverage rate.
Business Challenge #2: Gathering Data Fast for a Presentation
On another occasion, Postal Solutions was preparing a presentation for an international conference. The details of what they were to present were all ready, but to illustrate a key point, Postal Solutions wanted to collect data from direct mail users within the UK. The only problem was that the conference was only two weeks away.
Using the Apian SurveyPro family of products, Postal Solutions was able to create a web-based survey and analyze the response data very quickly. In less than two weeks, they were able to do the following:
- Create a web-based survey
- Contact participants via email and include a link to the web-based survey
- Send a reminder via email
- Collect and analyze the data
- Update the presentation with the survey data
Postal Solutions was able to collect data from 160 respondents and update their presentation, just in time for the conference.
Benefits of Using Apian SurveyPro Family of Products
One of the greatest benefits of using the Apian SurveyPro family of products was that it allowed Postal Solutions to combine results from both web and paper surveys into a single database. This allowed Postal Solutions to deliver their survey using multiple formats and quickly analyze the results. Postal Solutions was especially encouraged at the benefits derived from including the web-based survey. Specifically, they found that the web-based survey provided:
Higher response rates
Postal agencies who received an email message announcing the survey with an option to complete it on the web were more likely to send a response than those receiving only a printed version of the survey.
Responses via web-surveys could be gathered and processed significantly faster than those via traditional mail. In the first case, collecting responses from 80% of participants who could be contacted only by traditional mail took over nine weeks. Collecting the same response rate from those who had email or web access took only five weeks.
Higher quality responses
Respondents tended to supply more complete answers to open-ended survey questions when replying via the web than by printed survey.
For more about Postal Solutions, see their web site at http://www.postal-solutions.com