DM News Essential Guide to Lists and Databases: Boston Proper Takes Targeting To Next Level

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As a marketer, you know your customers. At least, you're pretty sure you do. Right? You used your customer base to build solid, clean lists from response-based transactional and demographic data.


Why then are your response rates falling short? The reason might be that these mainstay sources of information simply aren't providing the insight to reach your customers effectively as they become more active and, ultimately, more demanding.


As channels of communication multiply, along with consumers' ability to filter the marketing messages they receive, it's no longer enough to know your customers - you must understand them, too. Companies need to meet consumer demand with true insight into how to add value to their lives and present them with relevant offers.


Boston Proper, a national catalog and Internet retailer of women's clothing and accessories, is going beyond transactional and demographic data to use new targeting techniques based on customer behavior and attitude. The cataloger employed Experian's proprietary TrueTouch solution, which helps companies identify their best customers and prospects and then target those customers with the right message at the right time through the right channel.


Boston Proper proved that a better understanding of its customers at the behavioral and attitudinal level results in greater response and customer loyalty. It implemented two components of the TrueTouch solution to better segment its customer base for two of its major catalog mailings, including its annual holiday mailing. The impact component identified similar customer segments based on attitudes and needs. And the touch-points component let it identify what message themes were most likely to resonate within specific customer populations.


First, Boston Proper divided its customer base into four segments. Of these, the company found two that were distinctly price sensitive in their buying decisions, while the other two were identified as image shoppers whose purchasing decisions relied on the perception created by the brand. Each segment was divided into two populations based on purchase frequency.


Then the company tested the responsiveness of each of the four populations by varying the catalog message or offering. The decision as to what message was sent to which segment depended upon predetermined triggers - in this case, being price sensitive or an image shopper. For example, customers who were considered price sensitive received catalogs with messages promoting sales and discounts. Those considered image shoppers received a message emphasizing the latest styles without promotional offers that might be perceived as cheapening the brand.


Boston Proper realized that more effective communication comes through a more thorough knowledge of its customer base - not just what they buy, but why they buy it. By applying this targeted knowledge to its existing campaigns, the company delivered the right message to the right customers at the right time.


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