I was asked a tough question recently when I identified myself as someone in the DM business. Why did the questioner and his wife each get three copies of the same catalog from a prominent mail order firm, one addressed to them separately and one to their household? Could I explain why a company that had such sloppy circulation would expect a prospect or previous customer to trust them with a detailed order?
It’s hard to explain. But here’s what I would say to the overmailers.
Managing your customer file and rented lists demonstrates your professionalism and competence. A mistake in not householding might cost you a sale in addition to hurting your image.
Merge/purge processing is an important step in managing your data. Whether you license software or use a service bureau the process cleans and standardize your files and controls how many times an address appears on the final list to be promoted.
You can run your file against itself and against rented lists to remove duplicates. You can drop records that match do-not-call or do-not-mail lists. You can match records to get more complete mailing addresses and to enhance your file with consumer demographics.
The one thing you cannot do is skip the process entirely, unless you want the recipients to care more about how many catalogs you mail than about the products you are trying to sell.
The aim of a campaign can drive different settings of the merge/purge logic. If you are attracting customers to your chain of home décor stores with an offer of $10 off of a $25 purchase you will likely want to limit your coupons to one per household no matter how many people live there.
But if you are mailing a personalized offer of sachets or candles and want to build brand loyalty among all of the possible purchasers you might want to mail every previous buyer’s name in the household. Failure to limit your mailing of a dollars-off offer might please the redeemers but just erodes your profits.
Mailing more than one offer per household can be tactically smart if you plan to do so. But mailing the same catalog without a special offer can make the recipients question your competence.
Uncontrolled mailings can make people look at how you communicate and not what you are trying to communicate. Think about what impression you want your prospects and customers to have of your business and plan your processing and mailings to match.
Bill Singleton writes “Show Me The Data” each month for Lists and Data Strategies. He is a Manager of Analytics and Consulting Services at The Allant Group in Naperville, IL. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and 630-579-3448.