While prospecting on the Web and the use of promotional offers increased last year, cooperative database circulation and performance decreased, according to a client survey by Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ.
The 2003 Mokrynski Annual Customer Acquisition Strategy Survey was sent via e-mail to catalogers with Web sites in January 2004. Results include responses from 50 companies of various sizes. Respondents were split about evenly between apparel and hard-goods mailers.
According to the survey, catalog/Web companies made wider use of the Internet as a prospecting tool last year, with 71 percent indicating that they prospected via the Web in 2003, up from 48 percent in 2002.
However, the majority of the prospecting was not done via e-mail list rentals or exchanges. The most widely used prospecting techniques in 2003 were search engine optimization, paid search and affiliate marketing. Rented e-mail lists were used by only 6 percent of respondents and exchanged e-mail files by just 3 percent.
Overall, Web sales accounted for an average of 28 percent of direct sales compared with 23 percent in the prior year. On average, 25 percent of Web-generated customers are new-to-file.
However, only 39 percent of respondents said that they are matching back Web orders to catalog mailings on a list-by-list basis.
Use of promotions by catalogers/Web was up for 2003 versus 2002, with 55 percent reporting a rise in their use of promotional techniques during the past year. The most widely used promotions were sale pages/items with 76 percent; percentages off with 41 percent; and free shipping with 33 percent.
Respondents said that free shipping provided the highest response lift, with 86 percent saying it provided a lift exceeding 5 percent. However, the most profitable promotion was sale pages/items, with 53 percent reporting that they made a profit versus 42 percent for free shipping.
The survey also showed that though most mailers are involved in cooperative databases, many reported weakened performance over the past year. Of the respondents, 90 percent said that they are members of two or more cooperative databases and 65 percent said they participate in three or more.
While outside list circulation in 2003 was flat with the prior year, cooperative database circulation declined 4 percent from 2002, the survey found. Depending on the individual database, 57 percent to 80 percent of respondents reported that cooperative databases performed no better than, or below, rental and exchange lists.
This was Mokrynski's second annual survey. The next one will be conducted in January 2005 to reflect 2004 activity.