One of the aspects of cataloging that I’ve found useful is that everything you do from a circulation and marketing standpoint can be tracked to a specific source, or key, code.
When a marketer runs an image ad (non-direct-response) in a general interest magazine, for example, it’s difficult to know the effect the ad has on sales. But when you, as a cataloger, run a direct response ad or mail a catalog, most of the orders can be traced to a source, so your marketing and circulation efforts can be measured.
This month, I’ll offer examples of the common list results you can capture, and how source coding is used to determine which promotional offers work best. I also will examine the ever-present, non-traceable factor, as well as tracing business to the Internet.
Benefits of Source Codes
Source codes help you know which housefile segments to mail, which prospect lists to use (and which to eliminate), the best promotional offer to make and much more. In fact, you can’t remain in business very long without using source codes. Consider them the lifeblood of any catalog business—consumer or business-to-business.
Some catalogs prefer to build some intelligence into the code, while others simply use a sequential numbering system (i.e., alpha, numeric or a combination of the two). It’s best to avoid using certain letters, such as “I” (which can be confused for a 1) or “O” (might look like a 0). Avoiding these types of letters and/or numbers will reduce your non-traceable factor.
Some catalogers like to increase the results proportionally across all key codes, which is fine. I prefer not to allocate the non-traceable results for the following reasons. First, I think it’s good to draw attention to what the non-traceable factor truly is. By knowing this, you can reduce the amount of non-traceable results.