Faced with the realities of postal rate hikes and increasing production costs, marketers must constantly evaluate their mailing procedures to identify incremental sources of profitability. Taking a closer look at the merge/purge process can provide valuable insight for uncovering additional “hidden” benefits in your mail programs.
The merge/purge process serves as the basic mechanism to match records across list sources and eliminate duplicate records. While this process seems trivial, most marketers have failed to recognize—and benefit from—some of the targeting opportunities that can boost profitability.
To optimize the merge/purge process and leverage additional insights, marketers must focus on five dimensions:
List Source Classification and Priority—It’s a common practice for marketers to prioritize “house” lists over “outside” lists. However, to ensure that specific lists contribute their fair share to the next campaign, it is necessary to further classify within both house and outside lists by product and/or channel category. This scenario is particularly useful among multichannel and/or multiproduct line marketers who seek to optimize details such as channel, product preferences and migration to their house and prospect lists.
List Profitability—Most marketers use random allocation across “outside” lists to maximize circulation size at the expense of the overall list and campaign profitability. Large-scale mailers should instead consider ranking and prioritizing lists based on profitability, which will eliminate borderline and unprofitable sources. Taking it one step further, another approach would be to calculate list profitability based only on unique records.
Additional Segments Within the Household—Traditional merge/purge procedures and rules will “net” one name, such as a “house” name, over other names, such as prospects. To effectively target all consumers within a household, it is important to look at the composition of each household during the merge/purge process. Since multiple list sources can identify multiple buyers of different genders (e.g., husband and wife) or a generation (e.g., parents and children) within the same household, store this information and use it to adjust merge/purge “net names” rules. Otherwise, you could target a product designed for teenagers to parents or a women’s product to men.