Business Outlook 2003
The "stuff" Baumer is referring to is rising postal rates, privacy legislation, crammed e-mail inboxes and the resultant declining response rates.
Lon Mandel, president of list firm ClientLogic, points out that as the quality of e-mail lists improves, spam will decline. Just as list managers and brokers approve sample campaigns on the postal side of the business, so they will for opt-in, response-generated e-mail lists. No one will be able to spam those names without the consent of the list manager or broker, Mandel explains, and that's the crux.
But if e-mail isn't performing for you the way it used to, Baumer contends, you can't wait until it has hit a point of diminishing return to move on to another vehicle, channel, etc.
Savvy marketers always analyze their marketing efforts and find a way to prospect effectively. It was smart for marketers to turn inward this past year and mine their house files, says Baumer, but the companies that are ahead of the game are the ones that didn't walk away from prospecting.
"You can use the mail less to prospect, but that doesn't mean you can afford to prospect less," he explains. "You have to learn how to prospect differently."
Both Baumer and Mandel have noticed a recent pick-up in prospecting efforts. That's good news for list universes; in the past 18 months slower activity has decreased average file sizes.
And response appears to be coming around again, albeit slowly. TransUnion's Jan Davis notes that some of her clients have reported encouraging September numbers for programs that have not been working for a year.
That's the difference between testing during a soft climate and merely hiding out with your house file, says Baumer. Those companies that continued to try new strategies, as well as revisit channels that had stopped performing as expected, know a good deal more about what works and what doesn't—information they can use to good advantage to weather any challenge 2003 brings.
- San Francisco