Strategy: The Importance of Source Code Tracking and Matchbacks
Prior to e-commerce sales on the Internet, a catalog typically could trace 80 percent of its orders and revenue to a specific source or key code. Catalogers didn’t worry about the remaining 20 percent. They’d simply allocate it proportionally across all source codes. Life was simple in those days!
Today, tracing orders to a specific code is much more difficult and complex. That’s why the use of matchbacks has become a way a life for catalogers. This month, I’ll focus on the importance of tracing to a specific source code through a matchback.
Source Codes Demystified
A source code is simply an identifier that goes with a particular housefile segment, prospect list, etc. It really doesn’t matter what the code is, as long as it’s unique to the segment or list being coded. Some catalogs prefer to build intelligence into the code.
Others simply use a sequential numbering system. Alpha or numeric or a combination of alpha and numeric. It really doesn’t matter. Source codes are like bread crumbs in the snow — they can help you find your way. Without them, you’re lost!
Source codes help identify:
• which housefile segments to mail;
• which prospect lists to use;
• which lists to eliminate; and
• the “best” promo offer to make, among others.
A cataloger can’t remain in business very long without using them.
As catalogers, do everything possible to capture source codes. Some catalogers feel it’s not as important to capture source codes on the front-end because they’ll be identified when the matchback is done. While this hopefully is true, matchbacks aren’t perfect. What’s more, they cost money and are done infrequently. By not capturing source codes on the front-end, it becomes more difficult to know how prospect lists and/or segments of the housefile are performing on a daily or weekly basis.