Perfecting an Imperfect Science
“The information is very accurate, assuming that the customers are the people whose names and addresses are on the catalog,” she explains. “If they move or get married and I don’t know that, that’s different. But for the most part, we’re tracking them pretty closely.” She also notes that this information helps her monitor response by product segment.
Until recently, Richmond, Va.-based children’s apparel cataloger CWDkids had been matching back twice annually through a co-op. But at press time, Tracy Schneider, vice president of marketing and operations, said she was awaiting the results from a first matchback conducted by Web development provider iCentric. “We took an entire season and allocated based on order curves,” she explains. “We found a buyer of ours may get multiple catalogs during the season, and we just had been matching them back to that one catalog twice a year.”
Now CWDkids examines how many times it mails to specific customers. And with the matchback data, it’s determining whether it can cut back on the number of times it contacts customers to better control both mailing and paper costs.
“We’d also like to incorporate our e-mail contacts into the matchback process so we can tell if we’re also contacting these customers via e-mail,” Schneider says. “Are they responding to the e-mail, or are they responding to the print catalog? The more information we can get from the matchback, the smarter we’ll be able to mail in terms of both e-mail and catalogs.”
Dental products cataloger Practicon approaches matchbacks by analyzing purchases made from customers already in its database. “From there,” says Marketing Analyst Stan Moore, “we look at how they’ve ordered before and what channels they’ve ordered through.”
Things get a little hairy for the Greenville, N.C.-based Practicon when new customers place orders. For one, he doesn’t know how they come to the company. “They often come to us through lists we’ve purchased or rented from our broker” Moore says. In this case, the matchback is handled by the company’s outside data warehouse. “There, we’re just matching back on the address that’s come into our system, as well as having showed up on the rental list.”