It’s a problem that every marketing manager faces: How to make your housefile more effective.
For catalogers, your housefile is the air you breathe. If its quality is not properly maintained, your profits could decline as a result.
Some leading authorities offer tips to freshen up your list and keep it working at an optimal level.
1. Know How Often to Mail to Your List
This may not seem to have much to do with the quality of your list, but it all starts here. If you’re not mailing often enough, even the best list in the world won’t bring maximum profit. Conversely, if you mail too often, you’ll weaken both your list and your bottom line.
So, precisely how often should you mail? According to Steve Trollinger, vice president of client marketing at J. Schmid, a catalog consultancy: “Mail as many times as you possibly can while you’re at or above the threshold of your profitability goal for a given segment. Thus if 89 cents per book mailed will account for costs, overhead and profit, and you mail at $1.85 per mailing, you can easily mail another book.”
He notes that you can expect to see diminishing returns of 30 percent to 50 percent for each subsequent mailing.
Of course, it’s hard to know exactly how your customers will respond unless you test. Bob Klapprodt, vice president at Lett Direct, a catalog consulting firm, advises mailers to set up test panels and “test your way into it. It all depends on how consumable your products are and what type of selection you have.”
If you discover that you should be mailing more often, one way to make additional mailings more profitable is to make them look new. According to David Hochberg, a spokesperson for the Lillian Vernon company, catalogers frequently change the book’s cover signature to give it a fresh look. He says some even go so far as to repaginate the entire catalog, moving around all of the same items within the book.