How Many Times Should You Mail to Your Housefile?

According to The DMA Statistical Fact Book 2004, a consumer catalog company typically mails to its housefile 11 times a year, while a business-to-business cataloger mails on average 15 times to its customers.

Does that sound like awful lot of mailings to you? If so, your business might be able to benefit from an increase in the number of drops to your housefile.

Keep in mind, of course, that not all segments of the housefile should be mailed every time. You should mail to the more recent cells more frequently and follow strict recency/frequency/monetary (RFM) guidelines.

And mailing more to your housefile does not necessarily mean going back to press to print a new catalog. Catalog remails can cost-effectively generate additional business from your previous buyers.

Here are a few ways to increase mailings to certain segments of your housefile:

  1. Mail “hotline” names more frequently. Bring in buyer records that came onto your file after your latest update. These are hotlines and will be your best-performing segment. In some cases, it is beneficial to do a late dedupe after the main merge to get even more hotline buyers into the mailing.
  2. Create an additional mailing to your hotline buyers. This works if you have a gap in mail dates. For example, if you have eight weeks between drops, create an additional mailing four weeks out to your best buyers. This is also a great opportunity to mail your hotlines again rather then waiting the full eight weeks. Also, consider mailing the best RFM groups in addition to your hotlines.
  3. Add a test drop during your best season. If you’re a gift mailer, you might be able to mail more frequently during the holiday season. In some cases, you can fit in an additional drop that gets in home two weeks before the holidays. With consumers ordering closer to need, we have found that late mailings are performing better and better every year.
  4. Your customers are your most valuable business assets. Treat them well and develop a contact strategy that will enable you to communicate with them more frequently. Leverage your housefile to maximize contribution to profit and overhead.

    Stephen R. Lett is president of Bethany Beach, DE-based management consulting firm Lett Direct.