Thursday, September 11, 2008

How Important is Promotional History?

It seems like common sense. If you mail Mary Jane your catalog, as a customer (because she spent $500 three years ago) or a prospect (because she shops from your core lists) for two years and she never responds, perhaps she is likely to never respond and you should stop mailing her the catalog.

We find that:
1) Promotional history is very rarely used in developing contact strategies for customers, and
2) For those who have done the analysis, promotional history is not as predictable as it seems it should be. Mary Jane repeatedly appears on your core prospect lists, so you keep mailing her even though she doesn’t buy, AND studies show that you should keep mailing her because a recent hit on a core list is more likely to predict a response to purchase.

The reason I bring this up is that I have been receiving the same home décor and furnishings catalogs for years without buying anything. I suspect I get them because I am a gift buyer from catalogs like Sundance and Acacia, and these catalogs are core files for many home brands.

Here’s the thing- even though I have not bought from these home décor and furnishings catalogs in a long time, I really enjoy looking through them. Now, I am buying a home and suddenly these old catalogs are coming off the shelves and my wallet is coming out.

How important is promotional history?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

6 Ways to Segment Customers (Other than RFM)

1) Email Activity- (Last Opened Email)

Understand how recently a customer has opened an opt-in email from you. For example, Mary Jane is a lapsed customer that you are not planning to mail until you see that she just opened an email last month and she is engaged again with the brand.

2) Promotional History Flags - (Mailed Last 30, 60, or 90 days)

It can be difficult to execute contact strategies because customers are migrating in and out of segments. As a brand, you may make a decision that you want to contact even your most lapsed customers once a quarter. If you add flags to your backend or promotional history, you can just select those names from an older segment that have not been mailed in the last 60 or 90 days.

3) Source of Acquisition- (This is something you hear from me a lot!)

Defining customers as web only does not tell us a whole lot, especially how responsive they are likely to be to the catalog. Understanding that a customer is a catalog-driven web customer or a pure web only drive from a program like non-branded paid search or affiliates is critical to optimizing contacts and costs. It also requires storing matchback data on your database.

4) Product Category- (Might seem obvious to some of you but it is still rarely used)

We most often see product categories included in the segmentation for apparel companies where differentiating shoe or accessories buyers is important, but it also has implications for general merchandise, children’s, gift, and home décor and furnishings.

5) Sale/Discount/Free Shipping Buyers- (These are large segments of customers for most retailers now)

Try testing different segments based on their type of purchase- full price, free shipping, discount, sale, etc. You may find that certain segments of buyers are more responsive to different contact frequencies/messages.

6) Presence of Opt in Email (Critical for optimizing catalog/email contacts)

Similar to the promotional history flags, adding a flag to your backend for presence of opt in email can also help you decide who to mail and who not to mail when you are cutting back circulation, especially to marginal segments. If customers will hear from you anyways, there is less risk in reducing catalog contacts (though it should be tested first!).