Focus On: Lists: I Don't Want to Hear It!
“The largest costs in mailing are not list costs, but postage and printing,” Anstrand adds.
If you are mailing oversized, glossy, eye-catching pieces, you need to make sure as many of those asks as possible are getting into the right hands. Even if they’re not the most award-winning pieces to leave the mail house, they still cost money, so look carefully at the economics and factor in the cost of replacement names.
“One solution employed by some is to replace the CNR names with inexpensive names, such as lapsed donors,” Anstrand continues. “Often, organizations will include certain segments of their lapsed files in acquisition with good results. However, the deeper the lapsed name, the less well it tends to perform. By modeling the deep-lapsed names to pick out the gems that are more apt to perform, those names can be used to replace the CNR names, and at no additional list cost (just the modeling fee).
“Or the organization could look to a household database that can create a model, readily available, to replace names in a merge on an as-needed basis,” she says. “This would be more expensive but, if effective, could do the trick. The number of CNR hits from one merge to the next can vary greatly, so it’s best to have a large pool of names to replace those lost. If they’re ranked, then the ranks most likely to perform best can be used first, and the deeper ranks only when necessary.
“With some luck, and careful testing, the CNR names may not need to be dropped at all. As mentioned earlier, they are good names, since they’ve been found on active donor [files] or mail-responsive files (again and again). By keeping track of them on an individual basis, and rotating packages, the response rate may be kept at an acceptable level,” she concludes.