Nine Reasons Your Lists Aren't Working
By Steve Trollinger
Nine reasons your lists are not working.
Arsenio Hall enjoyed waxing poetic about "things that make you go 'hmmm.'" Well, I recently found myself thinking about something that makes catalogers go 'hmmm': Why don't prospect lists work better?
To really understand the answers you must understand the question. What does "work" mean? It means a list meets or exceeds the requirements for customer acquisition efforts or the established cost to acquire a customer.
Today, a tight economy has taken its toll on 12-month buyer files, and prospects are swarmed with catalogs. Marketers now must be smarter and work harder to acquire new customers. So the question remains, why don't lists work? And what do we do about it?
Reason #1: They're Tired
Mailing the same list and select campaign after campaign leads to an obvious problem: As you cherry pick the file for the most responsive names, fewer good names remain. List fatigue is a big problem for catalogers in specialized markets that have small prospecting universes to begin with. The key is to spot fatigue and rest a file.
Hold off on mailing a list for a year or two so the mailer has time to regenerate a new crop of buyers who may be receptive to your offer—and ultimately make the list successful for you again.
#2: Your Timing Is Off
Successful catalogers learn how to exploit prospecting opportunities year round. But it's possible that some lists will work only at certain times of the year.
If you specialize in products sold to schools, you'll get a higher response on prospect lists just prior to or right after the start of the school year than, say, in the middle of summer. During your best season(s) you should be able to prospect to a much wider variety of files, but during your slower seasons you should focus on proven off-season winners. A couple of options for improving performance: Know your best season and test new lists then. Test a timing select on lists that you mail in your off-season.