Belvoir Media Group, based in Norwalk, Conn., is a publisher of reader-focused newsletters and magazines. Its publications cover such enthusiast topics as horses, aviation, sailing, pets and sports shooting, and in the last few years, it has expanded into the health arena, targeting mainly an aging baby boomer population. For Tom Canfield, the publisher’s vice president of circulation in charge of the health and aviation groups, success in these tight vertical markets requires making the most out of each and every list he has at his disposal.
Canfield spoke with me about the importance of taking a good, hard look at your merge/purge, your partnership opportunities and your profit and loss.
Tracy Gill: A good merge/purge is one of the fundamentals of effective list use. Can you talk about some of the intricacies involved in the process?
Tom Canfield: When the merge/purge is used as a tool, there’s a lot that can be gotten out of it. The first decision you need to make going in, is how you are going to set it up because that can dramatically change the results you get out of it. For example, do you rank your lists as far as where the duplicates lie, or do you assign [dupes] randomly?
If you rank them, you give each list a priority. So the top priority list gets any dupes between that list and any other list. … The lowest priority list gets no dupes at all. In doing that, since in general multibuyers are the best names in your mailing because they appear on multiple lists simultaneously, you are artificially increasing the response and pay rate on the top-ranked list and artificially decreasing it on the bottom. The lists in the middle probably end up about where they would have, anyway. The advantage of doing it that way from a cost standpoint, is that you can give lowest priority to the lists where you have the best net-name arrangements and highest priority to the lists where you have no net arrangement. … This will allow you, to some extent, to adjust where you come out of the merge volume-wise, which can adjust your billing.