Since the founding of cooperative database Abacus by Tony White in 1990, consumer prospecting has changed considerably. While results may have fallen off (mailing the same names too often), co-ops remain an important source of prospect names for catalogers.
When deciding whether to participate in a co-op, know that at least 95 percent of your customers already reside in one of the myriad co-op database files. What’s more, buyers on your housefile who haven’t made a purchase from another catalog aren’t retained by the co-op. (These are your unique buyers, and they’re not used for modeling or rental by the co-op.)
This month, I’ll look at 15 of the best practices to follow when using co-ops. Follow these basic principles and practices to enhance your results.
1. Don’t block competitors. It’s never good to block access to your customer names through the modeling process. If you block a competitor, the co-op automatically will block you from any access to the competitor’s buyers. If its file is larger than yours, you stand to lose more than you gain.
Base your decision to block on sound business judgment, not personal emotions. Remember, other mailers aren’t getting your list per se; they’re receiving customer names from a database based on statistical modeling. Yes, some of your customer names will be identified by the model, along with buyers from other catalog companies that are members of the co-op, but not your entire housefile.
2. Always take full universes from proven models. Once you’ve tested and established that a particular model works, take the full universe of names in the top tiers (at least tier one and two). Maximize your results by mailing all available names, as opposed to diluting your results mailing smaller quantities to more model selects. Roll out with confidence to maximize your revenue per catalog mailed within these top-performing tiers.