Database Marketing

How to Maintain Your Housefile
June 1, 2002

A catalog company’s most valuable asset (other than people, of course) is its housefile. Obviously, a start-up cataloger has difficulty generating a profit during the first few years of operation. It has to start building the business without the benefit of having a mature housefile. It can take several years for a housefile to reach the critical mass required to help convert red ink to black on the income statement. And it generally requires very deep pockets to fund operations during the start-up phase. This makes it even more important to properly design and maintain a housefile. A housefile is an extremely valuable

Database: Spoils for the Loyal
May 1, 2002

If implemented effectively, loyalty-marketing programs can boost response and customer lifetime value rates. Retailers and airlines have long recognized the lifetime value of loyalty-marketing programs, which keep their best customers faithful only unto them. So why don’t more catalogers implement such programs? Bill Dean, president of the catalog consulting firm W.A. Dean & Associates, thinks the average cataloger feels he or she doesn’t get enough repeat purchases to support such a program, which can be expensive to start and maintain. “Most catalogers don’t really know their mix of customers,” Dean contends, “nor do they know what percentage of their 12-month buyers have made more

A Deal for Data
May 1, 2002

Like countless others, I’ve grown aware of how much personally identifiable information I inadvertently sprinkle around these days. But a recent retail incident left me astounded at how much data some merchants seek to collect. My husband and I devoted a Saturday to scouring a few furniture stores looking for a new sofa. We tested and examined construction, comfort and cost. We finally agreed on a plush beauty that we found in a store that’s part of a large, mid-Atlantic furniture chain. “How will you be paying?” the saleswoman asked. We told her we’d put 25 percent down when ordering, and

Know Your Housefile
May 1, 2002

Most catalogers know the broad brush strokes of their housefiles: that is, how many 12-month buyers, 24+ month, etc. But to really know the impact your marketing and merchandising efforts have on the file in time, do a detailed houselist inventory at least once a year. This also will become your road map for planning future marketing and merchandising efforts. Producing the summary is easy and in many cases can be done by your database manager or merge/purge company. To make the inventory even more effective, put it into a chart that consists of cells to hold counts in each of your

How and What to Test Effectively
April 1, 2002

Testing is the key to direct marketing success. The key, however, is knowing what, how and when to test. While testing is important, it’s not always cost-effective. This month, I’ll discuss how to structure tests, how to read the results and when it makes economic sense to do so. When creating test panels, you’ll need to weigh a number of factors. The method that’s mathematically most accurate may not be cost-effective. Conversely, the most cost-effective method may produce skewed results. And in some cases, it may not even make economic sense to test. The point is to determine the economic benefit from

How to Evaluate Your Remailing Strategy
December 1, 2001

Most consumer catalogers remail the same catalog to the same people multiple times. Remailing generally involves making at least a cover change to the catalog each time the catalog is mailed, thus creating the illusion that the catalog is new and different. Obviously, a remail strategy is more cost-efficient than trying to produce a new catalog for every new mailing. Longer press runs reduce the unit cost per catalog printed. How many remails should you make, and how much of the catalog should be changed each time? The number of remails will vary among catalogers. Here’s how to evaluate your current remailing strategy.

Should You Outsource Data Warehousing: A Checklist
December 1, 2001

Increased competition and a sluggish market have produced a scenario in which catalogers must embrace and preserve their customer base. Indeed, creating loyalty and optimizing each customer’s profitability are the key ingredients to growing your corporate revenue and ensuring your company’s long-term health. But nurturing customer relationships is no small feat. With customer bases in the hundreds of thousands—or even in the millions—determining the amount of attention to pay to each customer interaction can be daunting. The task leads many business executives to implement an advanced technology infrastructure and targeting strategy for each communication or transaction. However, developing that ability can be an

Nine Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Housefile
September 1, 2001

It’s a problem that every marketing manager faces: How to make your housefile more effective. For catalogers, your housefile is the air you breathe. If its quality is not properly maintained, your profits could decline as a result. Some leading authorities offer tips to freshen up your list and keep it working at an optimal level. 1. Know How Often to Mail to Your List This may not seem to have much to do with the quality of your list, but it all starts here. If you’re not mailing often enough, even the best list in the world won’t bring maximum profit.

Find and Target Multi-Buyers
September 1, 2001

Multi-buyers, active mail-order purchasers, buy from several, often related, catalogs. But all multi-buyers aren’t created equal. This month, I’ll examine strategies for mailing and re-mailing to multi-buyers; how to maximize this group’s buying performance; the priority multi-buyers should get in your merge/purge; and more. Mailing Strategies Your service bureau identifies multi-buyers each time you perform a merge/purge (the process in which duplicate names are found on the various lists you plan to use for your upcoming mailing). A name you rent also may appear on two or more lists you rent from other list owners. Unless you have a “net-name” agreement with

Adventures in Data Processing
August 1, 2001

The man’s tone was solemn; his usually voluble partner was silent. “Our consultant projected a sales increase of 300 percent. We significantly boosted spending to handle it.” “And what sales increase are you seeing?” I asked. He paused. “We’ve had a 25-percent drop. We’re nearly bankrupt.” Catalogers put a lot of time, money and emotional effort into fine-tuning their positioning, design, circulation and product line. But when it comes to data processing (DP), most catalogers simply trust that all will be well. This can lead to disaster. In the true example given above, the business-to-business cataloger’s consultant had promised a 300-percent increase in sales,