Strategy: Circulation Planning
The co-ops provide many other value-added services and benefits. It’s important for catalogers to take advantage of these services when it comes to circ planning. For example, all circ plans should include the use of customer reactivation models, cross-member modeling, list optimization, etc. Although using these services requires extra time and more work, circ plans greatly are enhanced as a result.
Create a contact strategy that incorporates all methods of customer contact. It encompasses planning all of your contacts with the customer, e.g., special promotions on the Web, catalog mailings and e-mailings. By planning your e-mails to support your mailings and your Web specials, contact with your customers will be more meaningful and have greater impact.
Send E-mails Ahead of Time
Send e-mail announcements roughly five days before your catalog hits in-home, encouraging customers to look for the latest catalog that’ll arrive in just a couple days. Follow up with an e-mail that relates to the latest mailing — roughly 10 days after the expected in-home date. For example, if you had a promotion with the mailing, send a promotion reminder.
By doing this, you map out the flow of your contacts with your customers in a strategic, significant way. Also, consider different offers and promotions to different customers. For example, for one-time buyers, reactivation customers or prospects, you might offer a greater incentive to purchase. To your housefile, you might send more of a “thank you” type of promotion.
Growing a catalog business is becoming more difficult. One reason: prospect list universe limitations. Catalog housefiles haven’t been growing, which affects how many names are available for other catalogers to prospect to. Response rates to outside prospect lists have been declining for many catalog companies the past few years. In some cases, results to tried and true continuation lists are off by as much as 50 percent. The most significant reason we feel response rates are flat (or declining) is due to the lack of housefile growth. Last 12-month buyer file counts are flat and/or declining from year to year, a trend that’s not easy to reverse quickly or without cost to the list owner. Therefore, when you mail continuation lists, i.e., prospect lists you’ve used previously, you’re mailing many of the same names over and over again.