Think Outside the Box: Enhance Data to Optimize Response

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Finding good, affordable, responsive lists seems to be getting harder and harder every day. File sizes are shrinking, list costs are escalating. Tried and true files have begun to fall off (list fatigue, quality of new-to-file names – or lack thereof). In any case, we need to think more outside the box. We need to locate new sources of names, more targeted ways to look at current names available and we need to constantly go back and retest files that we may have dismissed previously.

It's a new era. There needs to be more communication. Customer service is the key. You need to ask the right questions, look beyond the datacard. Is there anything special about a list that might give it a boost? Dollar selects, tighter recency, even gender selects are all viable options to consider testing and/or re-testing. How about seasonality? A holiday appeal may be able to get a catalog's names from a previous holiday to work better than their most recent update. Not sure? Test it.

Enhancements are a great way to further target your audience. They can identify age, income, and presence of children (sometime by age and gender), household type, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle and so much more. Enhancement files are not like they were in the 80's or 90's. They are more sophisticated. The important thing about enhancements is to know the source. Is it surveys, self reported data, transactional data, inferred data based on neighborhood clusters. Is it verified? Are there multiple sources that will confirm the data? The more you know, the better quality data you will be able to extract.

How will you know if an enhanced file or an enhanced database will work for you? The answer is easy and has been the same to almost every other direct mail related question asked. Test it. Understand who you are mailing to. Understand who you want to target. Sometimes who you think you want to target isn't who you are actually getting the best response from. Do the research, test the file.

With file sizes dwindling and response falling off, looking beyond the datacard and exploring the merits of enhanced data are just more viable options to explore. Communicate with your marketing partners and together you can find new innovative ways to test and retest a file.

This is a great way to minimize the effects of the economy and optimize response.

Bob Stein is vice president of list management for Trinity Direct, Butler, NJ.

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