repetition and list fatgue

Direct mail experts seem to agree that repetition is key to the success of a direct mail campaign. While I agree that repetition is important I think that there is a critical analytical step that is required prior to repetition. Understanding which list is “right” to repeat is the first step to a successful campaign.

There are a few places to analyze before determining which list to begin with. One of the best ways to begin is by analyzing the attributes of your current customer base. This oftentimes is more difficult than it appears. Typically when I ask a client what their customers look like, their answer is usually, “Everyone from 18 to 65, all income levels, my product is for everyone.” It is this type of reply that leads to poor response rates. I prefer to take your database and process it through our modeling software to find out common attributes of your customers.

Within this modeling software there are 28 consumer demographic selects and 16 business selects that can reveal valuable information about your customers. Once we hone in on the demographics of your current customer, we are then able to mirror these attributes and find new prospects to market to. Others may have a good grasp on who they want to target and may elect to select their own list. Either way this is the information gathering phase of your campaign.

I always say that a marketing campaign does not begin until the result of the first drop is in. When you look back at a marketing campaign you will often find that the campaigns first drop had the worst response. This should be viewed as the fact finding phase in which a successful campaign can be built upon. In fact, in the end we are looking for a crescendo effect in terms of response. With each drop we fine-tune the offer, creative and/or other elements that when combined with the repeated (mail drops) contact points will really drive home brand messaging and the offer.

Many direct mail experts say that you should target a prospect three times. I agree repetition is effective but I suggest using our method where we allow the results to determine list fatigue rather than sticking to a set number of mail drops. List fatigue varies for each campaign and several variables such as frequency, price point, offer, and audience often determines when list fatigue will set in.

The process is simple. We analyze our clients’ needs and conduct a test mailing using our best list estimates based off of customer’s data or insights. We then track and monitor response rates on our initial mail drop. Then, if an acceptable starting point is established we repeat the mailing to the same list. We continue tracking and monitoring results and most importantly we keep repeating. We monitor results looking for that plateau in response rates and then when there is a slippage of even a few points, we look to change the list and repeat the entire process. It is important to note that we have found oftentimes list fatigue does not set in until 8+ contact points.

When you find something that works, keep at it until the numbers tell you that it’s time to change it up. In addition to this, don’t give up too early because you can miss out on a very profitable campaign. Repetition IS key when done with the correct list!

Need help with your next direct mail campaign give us a call at 561-393-4722.

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