List View: All Sales Count
Consumers are not flocking to your Web site on their own. They are being driven there. Typically, more than 80 percent of orders and sales to a mailer’s Web site are driven by postal mail pieces—catalogs, subscription notices or other forms of direct mail.
As Internet and Web site activity account for a greater percentage of each mailer’s total orders and sales, it is essential that mailers properly allocate these sales. As much as 50 percent of the orders that used to come into a call center or come through the mail are now going to a mailer’s Web site.
Allocate Orders to Specific Lists
Many mailers use a generic “Internet percentage” to allocate orders back to the mailed pieces. This allocation typically is based on a broad estimate of the percentage that Web orders and sales represent within the company’s total direct marketing orders and sales. Or, if an accurate list-by-list matchback is conducted, it is done once a year and against only one mailing. These results then are extrapolated for the remaining mailings in that year.
If you are not accurately allocating these Internet sales back to the specific mail pieces and—more importantly—to the specific list from which they originated, you’ll begin making poor circulation decisions. For example, I’ve seen instances where lists have had more than 80 percent of their total orders come in via a mailer’s Web site, while the average for all outside lists for that particular mailing was less than 40 percent. Conversely, other lists on the same mailing generated less than 15 percent of their total volume through the mailer’s Web site. Without knowing the precise amount of Web activity generated by each list, you might overstate the performance of some, understate others and make the wrong decisions as to which lists to continue mailing.
Develop a Methodology
The hardest part of allocating Internet sales is not the actual matchback process. Typically, the mailer’s service bureau easily can match names and addresses from a mail tape to transactions that came in to the Web site after the mailing. The hardest part is developing consensus within the company on the method and rules used for allocating orders. For example, if the name of a Web site buyer appears on a recent mailing and a recent e-mail broadcast, to which event should the name be credited?
There is no one standard method I recommend to mailers as to how to allocate Internet orders and sales back to a direct mail or catalog campaign. The methods vary, based on a number of factors, and every mailer is different.
Factors that affect the chosen method include the annual number of and frequency of mailings, the number of catalog titles mailed, the timing of mailings, whether the company has retail stores, and the volume of Internet traffic received through affiliate programs.
Some mailers have developed very involved order matrixes in which individual Web orders and sales are split among a number of mailings, with a percentage of each Web order credited to different mailings. This method uses several variables to determine the number of mailings to which a percentage of an order might be allocated, including the number of active campaigns in the mail for that mailer and their respective percent complete to final.
For example, if you only mail once a year, then 100 percent of any name on the mailing that responded through the Web site should be credited with that Internet sale. However, if there are two campaigns mailed within a short time frame—for example, one on Nov. 1 and another on Nov. 20—and a customer appears on both mailings and orders on your Web site on Dec. 10, should one mailing get 100 percent of that order, or should it be split between the two?
These are questions mailers must test to find the mix and allocation procedures that will work for them.
To determine the best method for your company, build a matrix of results from several different methods. Review the matrix and get consensus internally as to which method provides the best results for you.
Finally, start tracking the percent of Internet orders allocated to each list, on each mailing, on your aggregated list history. You’ll see the percentage increase for each list over time. More importantly, if mailers report that your list is no longer working well for them, ask them how they are allocating their Internet results. I often find the mailers are not properly allocating orders to your list, thus understating the results. You may not be able to get them to improve their tracking and allocation methods, but by providing these mailers with the Internet percentage their lists are achieving on your mailings, you might convince them to allocate more sales to your list. Remember, make every sale count.
Bill LaPierre is vice president of catalog list brokerage at Millard Group, a list brokerage, list management and catalog consulting firm in Peterborough, N.H. He can be reached at (603) 924-9262 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.