Mailers ramp up modeling

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List rental trends across all segments show that mailers are exploring more modeling opportunities and bargaining on list rental costs to fight slow response rates, per leading list professionals.

Mailers also have been refining their selection criteria to improve performance.

"List rental trends are definitely up in the business-to-business segments," said Paulette Schlotman, senior vice president and partner at

MeritDirect, White Plains, NY.

"We are coming off of a super year, and circulation for the most part is up," she said. "I'm seeing a back-to-basics trend with our mailers - tried-and-true direct response lists with some creative enhancements culled from many aspects of database marketing."

For this summer, Ms. Schlotman is seeing strong circulation efforts designed to support an even stronger fall season. The economy is good, and BTB sectors are especially healthy, she pointed out.

"MeritDirect has seen circulation budgets in most, if not all, clients on an upward growth trend," Ms. Schlotman said. "MeritDirect's revenues are up about 19 percent, which is reflective of this positive position of our clients."

Mary Ann Buoncristiano, executive vice president of the American List Counsel Inc., Princeton, NJ, sees a trend of deeper segmentation on core lists. She said mailers are even considering demographic modeling techniques.

There have been "minimal shifts in mail dates due to [the] postage increase," Ms. Buoncristiano said. "[In addition,] plans, including testing, are flat with last year's [performance]."

But Ms. Buoncristiano said she expects the focus on branding and messaging across all channels to improve integration efforts. Mailers have been exploring inserts lately, she said.

Her colleague had a similar view.

"Across traditional markets we are seeing direct mail acquisition to be flat over last year," said Heather Maylander, executive vice president at American List Counsel. "However, our clients are exploring and testing alternative channels to acquire new customers profitably."

Tim Burnell, partner at Complete Mailing Lists LLC, Bronxville, NY, said most of his clients tend to do a fair amount of list rental during the summer. Some of that rental is for immediate use for late summer mailings like recruiting, while some of the other rentals are geared more towards the September and latter fall rush.

Matt Mader, vice president of data services at Teramedia Corp., Orlando, FL, recommends that direct marketers use the summer to first analyze and then enhance their in-house lists to increase their insight and reach.

"A small investment now could dramatically improve profitability in the fall and winter," he said.

Kim Wiede, executive vice president at Teramedia, said mailers needed to test new strategies across multiple channels. For example, a mailer might want to send two messages, a postal mailing and a follow-up e-mail.

She also recommends that mailers

re-examine the basics and make sure all

marketing messages have cross-channel consistency.

"We recommend that our mailers look at all list channels, even if they have tried them in the past," Ms. Wiede said. "Using multiple channels is becoming increasingly important."
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