Live from NEMOA: Examine Your Contact Strategies

Cambridge, MA – With the U.S. Postal Service’s upcoming rate hike expected to cost catalogers up to 40% more to mail, Jim Calhoun, cofounder of Chicago-based consultancy Daystar Wheaton Group, said mailers need to reconsider how they contact their customers.

This means mailers not only have to look at the data they have, but the data content, Calhoun said before the opening session March 23 at the New England Mail Order Association (NEMOA) spring conference.

For example, Calhoun said that for one customer earlier this month, he uncovered 50,000 to 60,000 names in its database that it had been mailing to that had a invalid data in the name or address field, meaning that mailers wasted money mailing to invalid households. For customers like that, Calhoun is recommending advanced list hygiene techniques.

“We’re going to be talking to our clients about keeping their addresses clean. It’s as simple as cleaning up your files to using advanced hygiene on your lists,” Calhoun said. “It’s getting better, faster, cheaper. Now with the cost of mail going up there’s a better chance at a return on investment for mailers.”

Another thing mailers need to do is take a better look at who is ordering from their Website, and where those people are coming from.

“They understand that through their Web analytics, but they don’t take that data to see if they got the customer from Google, or e-mail, or from an affiliate, and carry that onto their database,” Calhoun said. “So if the mailer is going to contact that customer with a catalog, they don’t have an idea where they came from. It’s something they need to make a priority, they need to get those Web logs and pull that information forward and have it connected to the marketing database.”

Another problem Calhoun said, not many catalogers have a connection between e-mail promotion and catalog promotion, creating a missing link. They have to take another look at appending e-mails to their files and making that a part of their program.

“I think they’ve shied away from it, and e-mail is going to become a bigger part of their contact strategy,” Calhoun said. “Now I think they’re going to take a look at it. They’ll need to find out if they should drop a catalog or send an e-mail or a couple of e-mails to attract that customer.”

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