10 Ways to Immediately Increase Response

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it: tactics for immediately boosting response to your mailings. But these tips are proof that sometimes, something that sounds too good to be true really can be true:

1. Use the DMA Pander File—but not on your house file. As always, a mailer should suppress from the merge all prospecting names that appear on the do-not-mail list. But based on circulation reviews I’ve performed over the years, I have found many mailers are actually suppressing their own house file names as well! By suppressing the names of your customers, you are eliminating the best-performing names from the mailing.

2. Mail “ship to” or giftee names. Often when I ask a mailer how many “ship to” or gift-recipient names he has on his house file, I get a blank stare. While these names will not be the most responsive name in your database, they are certainly more responsive than marginal prospecting names–and there is no name acquisition cost involved.

3. Use mailings to drive retail traffic. Many multichannel merchants are now using co-op databases to optimize names that come out of a merge. Rather than throwing away the nonselected names from the optimization batch, run them through a zip model selection for mailings into selected geographical areas to increase store traffic. While those names may have performed below acceptable levels through a direct mail channel, their mail order propensity combined with retail trade area might make them an acceptable risk to drive traffic to stores.

4. Mail the 0-12 month buyer file at the individual level and 13+ buyers and prospects at the household level. Who cares if John Doe and Jane Doe live at the same address? If they both made an individual purchase during the last 12 months, then they are each worth mailing an individual catalog.

5. Consider mailing to NCOA “old” addresses. Rather than suppressing old addresses from the mail stream, consider mailing into the old household if you have an appropriate niche or offer. If you offer a product or cater to a lifestyle interest applicable to that particular residence—pool products, for instance, or garden supplies—then mailing into that house may be worthwhile. To boost response, remove the old name and replace it with a generic “New Homeowner.” Provide a special ink-jet message welcoming the new residents to their home and offer an incentive. It’s worth a risk, and again, there is no name acquisition cost involved.

6. Mail to old multis… Most mailers now have an abundance of multibuyer names coming out of a merge. Rather than throwing those names away, save them for your next peak season, and use a co-op database to reactive them.

7. …Unless you have way too many. We advocate enhancing the merge to create various multi groups. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, however. If you’re awash in multis, consider alternating your merges by swapping out co-op names or using balance models.

8. Don’t mail time-sensitive offers to offshore addresses. Do not mail to offshore addresses late in the holiday season, as the mailings won’t arrive at their destination in time. Suppress APO/FPO addresses and those in U.S. territories, as well as those in Alaska and Hawaii (check carrier specifications beforehand).

9. Use different responder file universes to build special models. In the case of one of my apparel clients, they had two types of customers: casual and sports oriented. The two groups responded quite differently from one other. Therefore, when the co-op databases were developing models, we made sure appropriate responder universes were created based on apparel purchase interest.

10. Don’t omit names from low-net lists. I have stopped counting the times I have gone into a client’s office to discover that the mailer was eliminating low-net lists from the merge due to the costs. When you do this, you’re eliminating the best names from going into the merge. Who cares if you began with 20,000 and ended with 5,000? Those 5,000 will provide incredible returns that make it worth mailing.

Michelle Houston is vice president of circulation and client services for San Rafael, CA-based consultancy Lenser.

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