How to Better Segment by Recency

Want to know a better way to segment by recency that makes your life easier? Most circulation professionals know how important segmenting by recency is, but in our estimation, most are not executing this segmentation in the best way possible.

The next time you update and segment your housefile, label your recency groups with actual dates such as “January 2004 through June 2004” or “October 2005 through December 2005.”

There are two compelling reasons to do this:

  1. You’ll simplify quality control. If a customer last bought in December 2005, she will stay in that recency group until she makes another purchase. This makes checking counts easy, and spotting any errors in data conversion even easier.
  2. When it comes time to analyze results and make mailing decisions, you’ll quickly be able to correlate seasonality with your clearly labeled time bands. For instance, if you are deciding who to mail the November catalog to, you can probably mail deeper into those groups that include November buyers from prior years. This technique allows you to see those groups in your circulation plan easily and clearly, thereby leaving less room for errors at decision-making time.

Jude Hoffner is director of circulation, business to consumer, at San Rafael, CA-based catalog consultancy Lenser.