Despite the success of the Internet as a lead-generation tool, direct mail continues to be the best way for many companies to acquire new customers.
During the past two decades, mailers have developed very efficient and profitable direct mail methods. Intense competition has reduced the price of rental names to make direct mail highly lucrative when the right offer is sent to the right audience. Most marketers think that after 20 years of direct mail experience the industry has tried everything—but they’re wrong.
What I’m going to outline in this article will astonish some long-time direct mail practitioners. It represents a new direction that breaks the mold of traditional merge/purge-based mailing strategies. The practice is the creation and deployment of a prospect database.
How Large Mailings are Done Today
In traditional direct mail, a mailer might rent names from 300 or more different lists. It has a service bureau conduct a merge/purge to come up with an unduplicated mailing file. In selecting names, the mailer would like to use criteria such as age and income, but usually is limited to choosing names by what list they are on. All the
mailer can identify in the output of the merge/purge are the multibuyers; it also can target hotline names.
After the promotion, the mailer checks to see which lists performed best; it will rent names from those lists again. Next month, the mailer will start the process all over again, renting from 300 more lists. It has learned which lists work best for its campaigns, but each month’s mailing costs are about the same and the campaigns get almost the same response rates.
Traditional prospect mailings typically are stand-alone events that require:
• Campaigns based on lists, rather than on households or individuals.
• Detailed back-end analysis of responders.