B-to-B Prospecting: Dig Deeper for Better Names
With 400 B-to-B mailers in the alliance, Hawes says that Abacus can mine that database of transactional information so prospecting works. As in most business marketing, site penetration plays a key role in its strategy. “Finding additional buyers at a business with which you already have a relationship will help you gain more of a foothold at that site,” she says. “These prospecting models are providing strong results.”
Wary of List Fatigue
Has this deep mining of transactional data exhausted the marketplace? Is list fatigue an epidemic waiting to happen, as it has on the consumer side? “Most mailers in the alliance haven’t seen a decline in performance,” Hawes claims. “Although we’re not growing contacts as rapidly as we once were, we’re increasing the number of transactions associated with each contact. We’ve flattened out to about 75 million contacts in the last 18 to 24 months, but the buying profile of these contacts has gotten much more robust.” This past February, Abacus reported a 2 percent increase in B-to-B buyers compared to February 2005.
Marketers with broader product offerings are seeing stronger file growth, while niche mailers aren’t seeing the same increases. “Some niche mailers can get a lot of success out of controlled circulation and other nonresponse files,” which aren’t included in the database, Hawes explains.
But even mailers with more general product offerings often use a number of different sources for prospecting. “Most of our mailers are filling out their prospecting with about 50 percent to 60 percent from Abacus,” Hawes says. “After that, they usually go to one of the data warehouses like Direct Media or MeritDirect.”
No Longer an Either/Or
Which, of course, brings us full circle. For many B-to-B mailers, it’s no longer an either/or decision between using a more traditional list broker or Abacus. “You can mail so productively using the best of both worlds,” says Tuohy of Direct Media. “B-to-B mailers that fit their sweet spot can fill about 30 percent to 50 percent of their circulation with Abacus. That’s a lot of names left to fill. You still have to do all of the other basic blocking and tackling. You can’t get around it.”
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.