Forget Remailing -- Think Remarketing

There is increasing pressure on marketers to deliver increased marketing ROI through improvements in marketing performance metrics and resultant reductions in acquisition costs. Too often, marketers take the easy path towards attaining that objective by increasing direct mail circulation to former customers and non-converters without making the effort to customize targeting, refine offers/incentives, or tailor messaging to them.

Overall results improve by remailing these good prospects, but the approach does not maximize the benefit derivable from them. Rather than merely remailing them, marketers should consider devoting the effort required to remarket them -- because it pays dividends. By considering former customers and non-converters as new, rather than recycled, names, and developing a marketing plan befitting their potential, improvements in results from them will be realized. As with any solid marketing plan, three dimensions dominate the landscape: targeting, offer, and message.

Unlike other sources, former customers and non-converters bring more to the party with which to work. We know considerably more about them than we do mere prospects. We know what, how often, and when they inquired about or bought from us in the past. In most cases, the depth of data regarding those factors is voluminous and very revealing in terms of future behaviors.

Our first step, then, should be to develop models using the unique data available to us that will allow us to target into the population in ways that would not be possible amongst a prospect universe. Depending upon the marketer's business requirements, response, conversion, productivity, acquisition cost/sale, lifetime value, and other dependant variables are all viable candidates for modeling and/or mega-modeling objectives. By combining previous business contact data with the usual array of information commonly employed for prospect mailings, modelers will be equipped to develop models that are more robust and discriminating than those typically employed for blind mailings.

Secondly, knowledge of past behaviors will allow us to tailor offers to former customers and non-converters in ways far beyond possible for prospect mailings. Because we know what products or services each individual purchased or inquired about in the past, we are better able to fashion an offer that will be most appealing in the future. Incentives should be included in this "offer" consideration set. Research and testing can be useful tools in developing offer strategies for these segments.

Finally, because we know what they expressed interest in and responded to in the past, we are better positioned to craft messages that will have appeal to former customers and non-converters in the future. At a minimum, marketers should be mindful that it is just plain rude to ignore a past business relationship with someone, and be mindful to avoid creating a negative impression by failing to do so.

Once the marketer has tended to the trees with respect to remarketing efforts, attention should be turned to the forest, in the form of a contact strategy for this valuable target audience. The timing and frequency of offers post purchase or inquiry will influence the ultimate return that the segment will yield over time. Testing, sometimes best accomplished in the form of an experimental design exercise, will help reveal the optimal strategy for repeated contacts. While previous business contact files are fertile targets for remarketing efforts, and are hard to over-harvest, a sound contact strategy will guarantee maximal yields.

Many marketers have found their previous business contacts to be the cornerstone of their further efforts, creating economies that can help subsidize prospecting. Responders to prospecting efforts, after all, turn into the non-converters and buyers who fuel future remarketing efforts.

In many ways, the probability for future overall success will be enhanced by creating a marketing scheme that features targeting, offer, and messaging strategies that are most effective for attracting further attention from those with whom the marketer has had some form of relationship in the past. Those names are like investable assets, and it is up to us to maximize the yield from them.

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