Live from MeritDirect Co-op: A few surprises in b-to-b mail plans

(Direct Newsline) Business-to-business catalogers are mailing more to their house files and prospecting much less this year than they did last year, according to a study by William A. Ruppert, president of ResponseB2B. The study was presented at the MeritDirect Co-op Conference in Stamford, CT, on Thursday.

Ruppert requested catalogs from 150 b-to-b marketers in May 2000 and May 2001 to study mailing frequency and types of mailings. Survey 1 ran from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001; Survey 2, from July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2002.

Some 35% of catalogers mailed more catalogs during the second survey period than the first. “That’s ‘man bites dog’ stuff,” Ruppert said.

“The fact that people mailed more to two-year buyers than first-year buyers is surprising,” he continued. “Direct marketers know that the most likely customer to call a catalog on the phone and order is the customer who recently ordered.”

Among prospecting catalogs, Ruppert said he expected the volume of prospect catalogs to be about the same, but results defied that expectation. “There was a 40% decline in prospecting pieces between Survey 1 and Survey 2,” he said. “Mailing plans usually don’t change that much between one year and the next.”

When do b-to-b catalogs cut off a non-ordering customer? The soonest Ruppert was taken off the list was 1.5 months after requesting a catalog. The longest a catalog continued to send him mailings without receiving an order was 25.3 months.

The heaviest prospecting was done by the Successful Events catalog, which sent Ruppert 38 mailings after renting his name. Quill sent him 34–the next-highest number.

The catalog files that were rented the most were 4imprint/Nelson Marketing, which rented Ruppert’s name 70 times, followed by Siegel Display Products at 59, Successories at 59; and Hello Direct at 44 times.

Ruppert also tracked how many contacts he received from each catalog during the two-year period. PaperDirect was the leader, sending 16 mailing pieces during the Survey 1 time frame and 18 during the Survey 2 time.

Fahrney’s Pens was next, mailing 13 during both survey periods, followed by Kogle Cards, which mailed 12 during the Survey 1 time and 11 during the Survey 2 time. At the bottom of the list was 4imprint, which mailed 3 during the Survey 1 time, and 5 during the Survey 2 time.

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