List Primer, Part II: Past Behavior Predicts Future Performance
Choosing mailing lists for your direct marketing efforts may seem pretty straightforward. But in actuality, it can become rather complex. This week, I’ll serve up my thoughts on how to choose the proper mailing lists for your effort.
It’s important to note up front that if you haven’t rented lists before, you should choose a good list broker. In next week’s blog, I’ll address what to look for when choosing the right broker. For now, however, let’s concentrate a bit more on the basics.
When choosing lists always think of one word: affinity. While that may sound obvious, the catalog lists whose products and customers have the closest affinity to yours are your best bets. To illustrate this, I developed this chart for a client, which I call, “the affinity perspective on mailing list selection.”
The client was a high-end marketer of men’s clothing and I was explaining to its new management team how to select lists for its catalog mailings.
The catalog’s affinity perspective on list selection:
Behavior: Prospects with a demonstrated purchase history of buying the same items via mail order
1. Category: apparel lists
a. Men: high-end men’s apparel mail order buyers
b. Men: men’s apparel (non-high-end) mail order buyers
c. Women: women buyers of high-end apparel for men
2. Category: male-oriented products purchased via mail order
3. Category: high-end men’s publishing lists
4. Category: compiled files
I explained to them the hierarchy of which lists would work best for their offer. Since they came from the retail world, they talked to me about demographics, geography, disposable income, and all of the things prospects needed to be, or have, in order to become their customers.
Then I explained to them the marketing concept that states, the ability to buy doesn’t necessarily equate to the proneness to spend. For this catalog’s high-end clothing, the prospects we were searching for needed the ability to buy in terms of net worth, lifestyle etc. But would they spend top dollar on buying clothes through the mail?
The company needed to find prospects who clearly demonstrated a past behavior for buying men’s clothing through the mail — not just men’s clothing, but high-end men’s clothing.
So the catalog’s executives suggested testing lists like Tourneau, a high-end watch marketer and Barneys New York, high-end men’s clothing retailer with a mostly retail buyer list.
I said both lists would bomb! They wondered why. The lists fit the demographic, they figured. I pointed them to the checklist above and said, the most likely suspects for their marketing efforts had demonstrated the behavior of buying high-end men’s clothing through the mail. I recommended that they use the hierarchy as a guide, and once they exhausted all lists in the top category, that they look to the lower category as a next step and then proceed very carefully, outside their main category.
Nevertheless, they told me to test the lists anyway. Can anybody guess what happened when we mailed Barneys and Tourneau? I know, not a fair question. Always remember this when selecting lists. As I stated in the title of this week’s blog; past behavior predicts future performance.
Speak to you next week.