I though that Alicia Clegg’s article “Target practice” (MW September 2) was both thorough and interesting. I would strongly endorse using direct mail as part of an integrated marketing strategy, not in isolation.
But I would like to take issue with the idea that “more precise targeting increases the database costs of direct mail”. Surely we are missing the point? This is a case of understanding the value rather than focusing on the cost.
Of course you can recoup some of the costs through lower volumes of print, but this approach seems to be ignoring the bigger picture. The return on your investment in a well-targeted database does not come solely through lower production costs; it comes through having more successful campaigns with better response rates, better awareness and ultimately more sales and greater lifetime value from your best customers.
A well-managed database can also be of particular importance for mail-order arms of retail operations in helping to reach customers that do not have time to shop or live out of reach of their stores. Well-targeted databases can fill in the geographical and lifestyle gaps of potential customers, meaning all types of retailers can offer comprehensive availability to a much wider audience.
In essence, by truly focusing and investing in your database, you are communicating with people who are interested in what you are sending them.
Jason Steinberg comments that he is “not convinced that customers want more offers through their letterboxes”. I agree, but also suggest that many customers do welcome relevant offers from their chosen suppliers.