Maximizing Multibuyers

Multibuyers—those who have purchased via catalog or the Internet more than once, from more than one merchant–are the prospecting gold that all catalogers hope to discover and mine. They have proven their loyalty to catalog shopping in general, and that means they are likely to buy by catalog again.

There are five types of multibuyers to consider when crafting your mailing strategy:

  1. Multibuyers between outside lists and your house file. House file names that also appear on outside lists usually produce 30%-40% higher response and deserve increased contact or reactivation. Regardless of when the multibuyer last purchased from you, a hit with an outside list indicates recent mail order buying activity. This deserves a contact from you immediately.
  2. Traditional multibuyers: hits between multiple outside lists. Multibuyers should be tracked separately list by list. You may find that they account for most of the response from any given list.
  3. Multibuyers between outside lists and co-op databases. In effect, the co-ops have modeled your outside lists, and the crossover will respond at a substantially higher rate than names unique to either the co-op segments or outside lists.
  4. Multibuyers between co-op databases. With multiple co-op databases to choose from, mailers are having difficulties in managing the various multis and low net percentages from the merge. But by crafting various multi groups and creating diverse multi permutations, you can take advantage of the information gleamed from using this methodology. Multi co-op names, while not as responsive as multis with outside lists, are still much better than a unique name from the merge.
  5. Strategic multibuyers. The crossover names between two different types of lists have the characteristics of both lists. This is quite useful for vertical markets in obtaining lifestyle information pertaining to their marketplace. As an example, I have a sports-oriented catalog for which prospecting can sometimes be a challenge. In the merge, however, I can identify mail order propensity and lifestyle interest by crossover hits with vertical subscription or membership lists. The result: isolated prospects who are proven mail order shoppers with a lifestyle interest in the product you are selling.

For “general market” catalogs, the first four kinds of multibuyers are indicative of avid mail-order activity. If you segment out these multibuyers and evaluate them list by list, you will probably see that they are the most profitable names you are mailing. Conversely, isolating unique names allows circulation reductions in the least profitable names. For niche catalogers, the fifth type of multibuyer can be very powerful. The intersection of two very different types of lists can provide a whole new understanding of the names.

When the bar is raised in a difficult marketing environment and expenses go up, it becomes critical to know what to cut out. To do this successfully, use all of the list techniques to create as many segmentations as you can. The more you can parse a list, the more efficiently you can mail it. There’s gold in every list.

Michele Houston is vice president of circulation and client services for San Rafael, CA-based consultancy Lenser.

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