Reviewing Best Practices to Cope with the Rate Hike

At the New England Mail Order Association (NEMOA) spring conference last week in Cambridge, MA, the biggest out-of-session discussion was how to mitigate the effect of the U.S. Postal Service’s upcoming rate increase.

During a “town hall” session on Thursday, Russ Gaitskill, president/CEO of apparel and home decor cataloger Garnet Hill, suggested composing a “laundry list” of tactics catalogers could try to offset the effect of the rate hikes.

On the lists and data side, solutions and ideas included comailing with noncompeting catalogs, mailing more as opposed to cutting circulation by practicing add-a-name (mailing to a marginal record in order to obtain a volume discount), combining mail contacts (if a cataloger has two titles that would not normally target the same audience but that do have some common customers, one catalog would be bound into the other for those contacts), and a stronger focus on list hygiene and list modeling.

Other ideas that come up during the meeting included reviewing how customers would like to be contacted in the first place (e-mail or traditional mail), when to stop mailing to your one-time buyers, and using Web analytics to find out which search engine a Web buyer used to find your catalog.

Jim Calhoun, cofounder of Chicago-based consultancy Daystar Wheaton Group, may have summed it up best in an interview before sessions on Friday: “Until you have to cut back on costs, you don’t hear about cost-cutting measures,” he said. “In a sense, there’s no new ideas, but there are plenty to revisit.”

With that in mind, here are some past articles from MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT that could serve as a refresher course in best practices for lists and data:

  • 31 Ways to Better Circulation Through the Merge/Purge: Answer these 31 questions, then check your results, says Jim Coogan, president of Santa Fe, NM-based consultancy Catalog Marketing Economics.
  • Calculating the Impact of Advanced Data Hygiene: Using advanced data hygiene to correct bad addresses and suppress undeliverable ones isn’t sexy—but the returns you’ll reap can be. Improving your data hygiene can be a big profit driver because it cuts a substantial amount of waste out of your circulation.
  • Risks and Rewards of E-mail Append: Proponents of e-mail append contend that being able to contact even an additional 15% of your house file via e-mail can reduce your catalog mailing costs if you subsequently choose to reduce print mailings to them.
  • Comailing and Cobinding: A Critical Consideration: Comailing is the process of merging catalogs that have already been bound into one mail stream. Cobinding occurs during the bindery process as the catalogs are being bound so that catalogs sharing the same trim size can be comingled into the same mail stream.
  • Cutting Costs with Add-a-Name: To qualify for a postal presort discount for a given carrier route, you need to mail at least 10 catalogs to that route. Many times, according to Michelle Farabaugh, a partner in San Rafael, CA-based consultancy Lenser, mailers find they have only eight or nine catalogs going to a route, making them ineligible for the discount.

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