Maximizing the performance of list continuations

Sep 01, 2005 9:30 PM  By

Expanding your market is a must. Therefore, it is important to test new 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? Can you mail the list more often? Or are you overmailing now?

  • 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 six-month buyers, try using a $75-plus three-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 of younger customers.

  • Look beyond standard performance indicators. In addition to evaluating response rates, average order, and revenue per catalog, consider using performance indices. 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 the 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 essential. 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 to avoid getting turned down and falling short on names unexpectedly.


Stephen R. Lett is president of Lett Direct, a direct marketing consultancy based in Bethany Beach, DE.