Expanding your market is a must. Therefore it is important to continue to test lists. At the same time, it is cost-effective to do everything you can to maximize the performance of list continuations. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
- Study how well each list continuation performs over time. It is not enough to look at list performance for each drop. For example, how many times can you mail each list per year or per season? If you overmail a list, its performance can fall off to the point where it might appear to no longer be working when this might not be the case at all.
- Use zip models. Zip models can improve performance when list fatigue sets in. A good use for zip models is when you are selecting lower-performing segments of a file (deeper selects) or when using a larger file that performs marginally.
- Continually reevaluate the selects you are using. If you have lists that are typically only so-so performers, consider mailing a “tighter” select. For example, if you normally select $50-plus three-month buyers, try selecting $75-plus two-month buyers.
- Understand your demographics and your customer base. Do not try to use your list selection to change your customer base. You cannot appeal to a different audience without changing your merchandise, and you have to be careful not to abandon your existing customers. For example, you will not appeal to a younger audience simply by mailing to lists consisting of younger buyers.
- Look beyond standard performance indicators. In addition to evaluating response rates, average order, and revenue per catalog, consider using performance indexes. They will help you determine if a list overperforms or underperforms relative to the performance of all the lists used.
- Understand sporadic performance. If a list works sporadically, look for patterns. It could be that your offer isn’t appealing to those sort of customers at certain times of the year. Or it could be that the customers that list owner is acquiring don’t find your offer appealing. In either case, if you see a pattern, you can limit when you mail in order to maximize the performance of the list.
- Keep an eye on exchange balances. If you are in a highly competitive market, this is an essential point. Often, your “best” lists will not rent to you if the exchange balances get out of whack. It is important to monitor these exchange balances yourself in order to avoid getting turned down and falling short of names unexpectedly.
- Keep relationships open–always. It is always advisable to have a good relationship with the list owners you work with on a regular basis. Sometimes this occurs directly. Other times these relationships are formed through your broker or list manager.
Stephen R. Lett is president of Lett Direct, a direct marketing consultancy based in Bethany Beach, DE.