Moving Past Enhancements for Better Profit

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Enhancements, enhancements, everywhere enhancements. It's rare to read a direct marketing trade paper without the mention of enhancements. Oftentimes, they are referred to as an additional list revenue source or, perhaps, as a component of database modeling. Let's take a look at ways enhancements can help mailers in their prospecting efforts through straight list selection. Ultimately, the goal of having a wealth of enhancement information is to better segment lists for more profitable mail campaigns. The following are some suggestions on how to do that.


Creative combinations. Combining enhancements can take you one step further to identify very specific market segments. For example, a grandparents selection is not always available, but by combining an age selection of 60-plus with presence of children is a way to get around that. Or you can select identified donors who have a religious interest to target for certain charitable causes.


Using enhancements with a list's product selections or market affinity presents new opportunities as well, such as identifying super-enthusiasts. For example, selecting a gourmet cooking interest on cookbook buyers or a gardening interest on home and garden magazine subscribers.


Fine-tuning marginally responsive files. Many lists get cut out of a mail plan because the response is not quite high enough to justify the cost of mailing. Using enhancements to lift the response may be all that's needed to keep it in the plan. Now that many list owners are overlaying their files on a more frequent basis, you need not forfeit recency to include age, income, presence of children or lifestyle/interest in the selection criteria. To make this scenario work for the mailer, list owners need to be flexible with their pricing. It defeats the purpose of offering the additional information if the enhancements make the list too expensive to mail.


Using enhancements in exchange relationships. Even with some exchange relationships, a list can have borderline profitability. However, if the list offers demographic and lifestyle overlay data, you may be overlooking an opportunity to lift the response at a nominal fee (the nominal fee being a royalty charge). In most cases, list owners that offer enhancements have royalty fees to pay for use of the data. For instance, if an age selection provides you with a more exact audience, the incremental charge to extract that audience may be worth the price to make the exchange work for you. If you are able to provide a comparable segment or enhancement selection on your file to the other party, both mailers are able to maximize the exchange relationship.


Activating older names and expires. Cooperative databases enable mailers to activate older names and expires on their house files, as well as on prospecting lists. Along with the multitude of demographic and lifestyle overlay data on the databases, the participating files enhance their lists with transactional information, most important recency from all other participating lists. Participants and nonparticipants in these databases can take advantage of this reactivation by the following:


House file reactivation. As a participant, mailers can identify hotline respondents on their older or expire names to better focus their customer retention, cross-sell and up-selling efforts. Purchase behavior, demographic and lifestyle information help complete the picture.


Reactivating prospecting lists. Whether you are a participant or nonparticipant in the Z-24 Catalog or CircBase Subscriber cooperative databases, mailers can use the database recency information on participating files to drill deeper into individual lists that they continually mail. Identifying a last-three-month buyer or subscriber on older names or expires on a good performing list can turn out to be an additional source of profitable names.


Reactivating database names. Key to the Z-24/CircBase database relationship (these files are linked together for optimum selection across the publishing and catalog markets), recency on either Z-24 or CircBase can be used to activate older segments on either of the databases. For example, a profile score in Z-24 can be selected using the Z-24 database recency or the CircBase recency. Because most consumers are both subscribers and buyers, using the recency from one database to the other is a valid means of activating older names.


Individual participating lists can be used in this same fashion. If you are a cataloger in the Z-24 database, you can apply your custom score to a participating subscriber list in CircBase using its core file recency to activate names from the Z-24 base that would not have been pulled.


There are many options because of the numerous selections available in the cooperative database environment. Let creative cross-file combinations and selections be your guide.


Enhanced data-rich lists, master files and databases are everywhere. To take full advantage of this, as direct marketers we must be more creative in our methods of using the information that service bureaus and information providers make more readily available. The data are just the means for making our jobs more effective and enjoyable.
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