Posts filed under Mailing List

You Have To Know Who Your Customers Are to Find New Ones

Knowing Your Customers

During a casual business lunch with a CMO friend, he began to go over his marketing plans with me.

"We have hundreds of restaurants nationwide with a well recognized brand. But some stores are not doing well at all. So we need help in developing a distressed store program to improve their sales.

We know most of the store managers are doing a good job. We also know the competition for most of our stores have similarities. 

I say direct mail, because we are active in social media and promote special sales by email to participating customers. But our lists are pretty small."

I then asked him if the email list contained customer names and addresses. It did not. Did he know who his customers were? He answered: "Why of course. We know they have families of X size with incomes of X ..."

But my question wasn't whether he had a customer profile, but whether he knew his customers? Does he know their names, addresses, how often they came to his restaurant? How much they spent? When did they come last? Without these answers, the CMO cannot target either his existing customers or qualified prospects.

Why is that so? His organization does not maintain a transaction database

Direct marketers use the database to identify the best customers by matching them to external mailing lists. This creates a high quality prospect file by finding people who look like the best customers. This process also shows customer concentration by geography. We can then promote to the prospects in areas with the deepest customer penetrations.

A customer database would also allow the CMO to determine why some of his stores are in distress.

Perhaps some restaurants have too few customers. Or their one time buyers who convert to repeat buyers are lower than successful stores.

Some distressed stores may not have enough qualified prospects within their trade area. This means a relocation is in order and spending more money on marketing makes no sense.

When a direct marketer asks if you know who your customers are, he wants to know what your database contains. Does it have the needed information for prospect targeting and marketing program evaluation.


Posted on May 16, 2016 and filed under Mailing List, Research, Direct Mail.

Ignoring this Key Direct Marketing Strategy Assures Failure

Nothing baffles me more than seeing clients refuse to test their direct mail creative work, offers and mailing lists. It borders on stupidity. After testing several thousand direct mail packages during my long career in this business, clients refues to test when they could improve their response rates by 200-600% with smart testing.

Rented Names Are Not Leads

Terminology makes a big difference when discussing direct marketing or any subject for that matter. In fact, deceptive advertising runs rampant in the direct response world. In every case, these “leads” are actually cold names. By definition, leads refer to names that responded to an offer of some kind. They are inquiries.
Posted on May 14, 2013 and filed under Mailing List.

Four Secrets for Your Acquisition List testing Success

There’s a lot of talk about what makes a rented response list work. But few have written about the subject. So if you use lists or test them, perhaps you could add to some of the success steps I missed in this blog.

The list brokers I work will usually offer a logical explanation to why I should test a certain list. But when I probe, I often find that many of my questions go unanswered or I don’t believe what they tell me when they do answer.

That’s because compilation tactics and list sources remain secret with the list owner who wants to keep the competition at bay. Or worse, they think I wouldn’t like the truth if they told me.

So comments from list brokers like, “Try it, you won’t regret it” or “Take my word for it, test it” are the common retorts. These are code for “My client, who is in a similar business to yours, tried it, and it is now a control list.”

In spite of this lack of openness in the industry, there really is a rational process to the whole list selection strategy.

As the title states, this discussion centers on list testing for new customer acquisition. Inquiry, customer or compiled lists testing strategies require another discussion.

What are the primary things to look for when testing new lists? I believe the predictors for list success revolve around these four things.

1. Response medium

Did the people on the list purchase a product directly from the company using a direct medium? In other words, did they buy as a result of responding to a DRTV spot, an email, by telephone or a direct mail package? If the answer is yes, then did they buy through the medium through which you are promoting your product?

Even though people are influenced to purchase through many media, mail responders, for example, should help improve your direct mail response.

2. Affinity to your offerings

Once the list passes the litmus test as a direct response list, then you need to focus on the interest of the prospects on the list.

If you are selling outdoor excursions to remote parts of Canada, then you will want to look at direct and indirect interests. Consider travel lists that contain travelers who love the great outdoors. Look for response names that display an interest in hunting and fishing. What about backpacking, bicycling and motorcycle magazine subscribers?

I consider subscription files less effective than comparable response list. But they do demonstrate interests in areas that may correlate to your product offer.

A good broker knows how to think outside the box adding new categories of lists based on interest affinities.

3. RFM segmentation

As most direct marketers know, response lists are segmented by Recency, Frequency and purchase amount (Monetary). Some of these segments are more responsive to your offer than others. It is probable that a single selector or some segment combinations will get the response you need, while others are not worth mailing.

Customers on a rented list who have bought within the last 6-12 months are often not available for rental. The list owners reserve these most valuable names exclusively for their own promotions. So purchase recency counts for a lot when evaluating the quality of any given list segment.

If the rented file is large, then consider testing various segments on the list by RFM. For smaller lists, segmentation may not be worth it because of the small rollout potential.

4. Co-op or aggregated list availability

One of the pioneers of such lists is Lifestyle Selectors. They remain one of the best such list available on the market.

As the name implies, these response list compilers aggregate many hundreds of response databases from multiple companies merging the response data from all sources to create large files that contain a massive amount of information on each record for pinpoint selectability.

Another good example is Abacus that merges and dedups the databases of over 2,000 clients’ customer names. They profile your names by bouncing and matching them against their master file to determine how to select names for your list test. They then project response rates within each of 10 segments taken from their massive database.

Testing such files is essential to your acquisition strategy. Aside from compiled lists, no other database category possesses the huge rollout potential of co-op lists.

The final word

The list testing business requires special experience and great contacts with list managers and list owners. Instead of trying to select your lists using SRDS, the Internet or by approaching list owners directly, work with an independent, experienced list broker who represents all list sources.  

Pick someone who knows your industry and has exposure to what lists work for a large variety of products and offers. Such a broker should be able to expose you to new, winning lists based on their personal experience.

Posted on January 17, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, Mailing List.