A Continuity Mailer ... Who Me? Never! Why Not?
Don't dismiss continuity marketing, but don't go into it blindly either. Evaluate its operational aspects in advance, and be sure you can handle both the continuity and your ongoing, one-at-a-time orders in the fulfillment and shipping process. Your IT system should be up to the challenge, and if not, make necessary changes or additions. Think about and plan customer retention before you announce your program to customers and prospects. Then, forge ahead — greater lifetime value and share of customer await you.
For those new to continuity marketing, here are some definitions you should know.
Continuity marketing: any direct marketing effort where the customer's initial order initiates multiple future shipments.
Following are four types of continuity programs. Your specific product line will determine which program is best for you.
Closed-end series: a finite series of items, often collectibles, e.g., video or music. A customer has a unique delivery schedule based on her start date.
Open-end series: continuous shipments until the consumer asks you to stop, e.g., annual tax software update. All customers receive the product at the same time.
"... of the Month Club": different items within a niche, shipped monthly, e.g., red wine. Setup can be open-ended until the customer cancels (usually for herself) or a for a finite number of months (often gifts). All customers receive the same item at the same time.
Auto replenishment: same shipment each delivery. Products commonly are consumables, such as pet food or nutritional supplements. Customers have a unique delivery schedule based on their start dates.
Shari Altman is president of Altman Dedicated Direct, a direct marketing consultancy specializing in acquisition and loyalty marketing support. Reach her at (336) 969-9538 or email@example.com.