Rental list prospecting evolution continues

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I am continually astonished at how our industry continues to evolve and change. It sometimes seems that just as I've gotten over the latest innovation, another one crosses my desk. Just in the last few years we've seen the emergence of:

• List modeling as an effective tool for mainstream direct marketers

• The increased use of "smart" merge/purges

• Improvements in the ability of printers to personalize catalog content almost down to the individual level

The net result is that many more marketers are making more intelligent use of the purchase, demographic and lifestyle data that comes with every rental list.

Even in the face of all of these innovations (many of which had been available only to the largest and most sophisticated mailers, if at all), the most effective tool available to list marketers remains list segmentation. Effective list segmentation makes all the difference in the world to how your campaign will perform, how many names you can mail and how often you can approach these prospects profitably.

In years past, segmentation meant essentially, recency, frequency and monetary performance. Now, however, marketers have a whole host of additional data elements at their disposal, and those who ignore them do so at their peril.

Here are just a few of the many data elements that are often available for selection: product category, dollar type (cumulative versus average versus last purchase), original source (catalog, space, Web search, e-mail, insert media), purchase channel, geographic area and demographics.

Effective use of these variables enables marketers to find just the right prospect names for their business and for their particular offer.

For example, a holiday gifts marketer is now able to take a very large list and select only those buyers who have purchased holiday items at the same time last year; select only those buyers with who have spent at least $100 on their last order; exclude or select (as appropriate) Web buyers; and select only females between the ages of 35 and 55 who live in targeted ZIP code areas and have a home valued at $400,000 or higher.

And if this is not enough, you can then add the power of one of the cost-effective list modeling products that are now available to make the list perform even better.

But the responsibility remains with marketers to be proactive users of this data. Today's best list brokers are able to work with their clients to make the best and most cost-effective use of the wealth of data now available to improve the performance of any campaign. And today's best marketers are the ones who work with their brokers to put them to good use.

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