A Continuity Mailer ... Who Me? Never! Why Not?
By Shari Altman
Continuity programs can help catalogers reduce the number of customers who vanish after one or two purchases.
Continuity mar-keting often isn't the domain of catalog marketers, but those who dismiss this marketing approach too quickly as "not for us" may want to reconsider. For the average cataloger or multichannel marketer, more than half of new customers never make a second purchase. Even if your stats are better than average, it's hard not to be intrigued by the fact that continuity customers buy three to six times per year. Continuities also can offer a valuable service, saving your customers time and hassle — and ensuring their category or item purchase is from your brand.
While continuity marketing is compelling from a sales standpoint, it can be operationally complex — when you decide to pursue a continuity strategy, do it with your eyes wide open to avoid mistakes and omissions.
Should You Develop a Continuity Program?
First, evaluate whether your product line contains a viable continuity product. The most common are consumables that customers don't want to run out of, such as:
- ink-jet cartridges, vitamins, coffee, cosmetics/skincare, pet food, air filters and medication;
segmented education or entertainment products;
book and video sets, collectibles, kids' and adult craft projects; and
wine, flowers, gourmet food and seasonal home décor.
On the fence about whether your product would make a viable continuity? Products with one of the following characteristics are easier to market:
- "Needs" vs. "wants." If you require monthly medication, automatic delivery is a big time saver.
Needs that don't change frequently, e.g., air filters, vitamins or skincare. If you continually use the same product, it's easier to see the benefit in automatic deliveries.
Shopping for the item isn't enjoyable, e.g., pet medication.