Should You Suppress Chronic Non-Responders?

Who wouldn’t want to identify meaningful pools of chronically non-responsive names, especially on prospecting lists? By building a data warehouse, and a prospecting history at the individual level along with it, one can begin to model for names less likely to respond to your offer based on past results—or lack thereof. Sounds like an ideal tool, but is it?

One of our clients has recently conducted an analysis of prospecting names by the number of times a name had been marketed to in the past. We were able to see, through an iterative matchback process, response rates from those who were seeing the offer for the first time, third time, eighth time, and so on.

The variance was surprisingly small. Why? I imagine two reasons:

  1. The mailer is fiercely vigilant about merchandising its catalog and improving their brand image, meaning that the customer did not simply see the same catalog and same products over and over again
  2. It is challenging, at best, to predict precisely when a consumer is ready to make a purchase in a given category. The next logical step in validating these findings would be a test in the mail.

The analysis described above is worthy of consideration by any retailer with the means to perform it. Ultimately, however, proving the value of a prospecting non-response file requires isolating the names and investing in a small but readable test in the mail.

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