Get More Mileage From Outside Lists
The last three years have been tough for retail in general, and particularly for catalog/Web companies. This market softness has been felt especially strongly in outside list and cooperative database performance. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them:
• A change in the composition of many list owners’ files stemming from large cuts in prospecting efforts.
• Increased housefile mailings. Many list owners did this to help make up for the dropping counts on outside files. The result has been fewer “new-to-file” names on their lists, and a corresponding increase in reactivated housefile names. This, in turn, has had a negative effect on outside list performance.
• An industry-wide boost in mailings to multibuyers partially fueled by an increased reliance on cooperative databases. This trend has increased in the past year or so as new cooperative databases come onto the market.
The convergence of these factors has made it necessary to re-think how you approach outside list prospecting. I like to say that it’s time to approach the use of outside lists strategically rather than tactically.
What does this mean? In addition to the list-by-list analysis you and your broker(s) routinely undertake (the tactical approach), you need to set a series of overall objectives for each season—indeed, for each year—and define a series of steps to ensure you meet those objectives. This is what I call the strategic approach.
A few examples:
1. Construct a plan for making greater use of lists with large universes. The plan should:
• Identify 10 to 15 lists with at least 500,000 to 1 million 12-month names.
• Establish a testing budget that will enable you to test these lists in an organized way.
• Set an objective for making a certain number of the lists work for you.