Lists and Prospecting: Betty Crocker Cooks with Database Model

Betty Crocker is, of course, a model homemaker. And now database models play a large role in the circulation strategy of the Minneapolis-based catalog division of food giant Betty Crocker. For its 2002 fall mailing, the company tested models from two service providers. The model built by predictive analytics software provider Sightward outscored the other provider’s model by 28%, says Betty Crocker business analyst Jane Thomas.

Both software providers scored 2 million names from the Betty Crocker house file. Thomas picked the top 1.5 million names from each model, “matched the two files together, identified the ones they had both chosen, then split out the unique names from each model,” she explains.

Each model turned up approximately 200,000 unique names. “That’s what I compared — those 200,000 names are what you end up with when you get to the bottom of a file,” Thomas says. “The deeper you get, the harder it becomes to pick the best names to mail. And that’s where modeling can get important.”

Sightward’s 200,000 unique names pulled a 1.89% response; the other service provider’s unique names pulled a 1.47% response. Why the difference? Sightward includes response data from previous mailings in its models, which some other providers do not, Thomas says, and its software allows it to look at multiple modeling equations simultaneously to pick out the best names. “Sightward can test a lot more models more quickly than other software I’ve worked with,” she says.

Betty Crocker also benefited by paying 25% less for Sightward than it did for the other software provider. “One reason I did the test was that Sightward had a moneyback guarantee on the software,” Thomas says, noting that she paid a flat fee for the model of $15,000.

This year, Thomas expects to go to subscription pricing to do more-frequent modeling using Sightward’s Catalog Optimizer, a new version of the software she had tested that adds free online self-service postanalysis via a secure Website. Betty Crocker will have four major mailings this year. Thomas plans to use the modeling for all of them. Sightward spokesperson Frances Bigley says that catalogers that who commit to 8-10 models a year can pay $5,000 per model.

Thomas leased the software, leaving Bellevue, WA-based Sightward to host it. “This way, we were able to use the software without having to run it ourselves,” she says. “Once I sent in the postanalysis information, the software did all the work in comparing the data, which made things very easy for me.”

While Betty Crocker found success with Sightward’s hosted services product, there are several other products and options. Smaller catalogers might opt for service bureaus, whereas larger mailers might obtain modeling as part of a CRM package, such as that offered by Unica Corp. Full-service list brokers, such as Acxiom, also offer modeling as one of the many services in their lineup.

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