Catalog and Direct Selling: Track Retail Results
In the mid 1990s, most direct marketers captured about 80 percent of their orders with source codes. What a difference a decade makes! Today, if multichannel direct marketers capture 50 percent of their orders with source codes, they are doing well.
Tracking response to a direct response promotion in a retail environment can be particularly challenging. Barcodes certainly help. When you mail a postcard that’s also the response device, e.g., “Bring this postcard to your nearest store to receive your discount,” you can track a portion of your orders with a high level of accuracy.
However, any direct marketer who has tried it knows the process isn’t so easy. Broken point-of-sale (POS) scanners, smudged barcodes, and inadequate training of temporary and seasonal staff conspire to turn your well-thought-out plans into results that are far from the clean and organized keycode reports you envisioned.
Unfortunately some direct marketers have given up on the challenge all together. They either think it’s an impossible task, or they mistakenly assume that because their response is occurring within their retail stores the orders are somehow being driven by the order channel—the store—and not the promotional efforts. When these marketers cut mail quantity, they find themselves scrambling to meet projections.
Fortunately, there is help. It’s called a data matchback. Here are seven commonly asked questions about data matchbacks and how this technique can help you track retail customers.
1. What is a matchback?
A matchback is a technique where you take your untracked orders, regardless of source (retail store, phone, Internet, fax), and match them back to your actual mail file, including rented prospect names. A good matchback uses a matchkey strategy that compares only portions of different fields of a customer’s total address. Since keying errors can occur when customers’ addresses are entered into a POS system, it’s more likely that a portion of each field—usually the first two or three digits—is more accurate than the rest of the field. Add a few of these portions of fields together, and you have a matchkey.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.