Special Report Lists
By Alicia Orr Suman
The Causes of List Fatigue
... and eight tips on how to beat it
List fatigue is top of mind for many direct marketers these days. What is list fatigue, what causes it, and how can you combat it?
Reductions in catalog prospecting circulation over the past several years, in conjunction with shrinking list and co-op database universes and an overall weak economy, have led to what commonly is being referred to as "list fatigue."
How, you may ask, can a list become fatigued? Jo Ann Alberts, vice president of list brokerage and management firm American List Counsel, Princeton, N.J., explains: "Because of extensive cutbacks in prospecting and only utilizing the top lists, mailers are exhausting the best lists by mailing only the best segments and not going deeper into the files."
As a result, she says, "[catalogers] are constantly mailing the same customers. The same is occurring with their housefiles, which has led to customer burnout and reduced the responsiveness of those house names."
The economy also is a determinant because it made some mailers hold off and not prospect as much, suggests Michael Grant, president of Michael Grant Direct, a database marketing consultancy in Scarsdale, N.Y. "List universes have shrunk a bit, since people didn't mail quite as much last year. So there are fewer new buyers," he notes.
Some strategies catalogers may have been using to avoid prospecting were reactivating older buyers and mailing deeper into their housefiles — both worthwhile strategies. But, Grant warns, neither replaces new prospecting. "You must mail both to your housefile and to prospect names in order to continue to grow your business."
However, Grant says, the clouds seem to be lifting a bit recently. "[Catalogers] now have started to recognize that they can't let their housefiles age indefinitely; I expect to see a change as mailers start to prospect more."