Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Projecting Direct Mail Response

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Projecting Direct Mail Response

Article excerpt

Projecting direct mail response

You've spent months planning and executing your direct mail campaign. Finally, it's delivered to the post office. Now, you wait. Response anxiety sets in. You question yourself: Did I project response correctly? Is it a good season or a bad season?

And as if anxiety and curiosity weren't enough to rivet your attention on the daily returns, you also need to know the results for rate base purposes. One of the key elements in rate base management is early identification of problems. So for many reasons, circulation people try to come up with ways to project response.

One of the basic problems in projecting response is that response patterns are almost never the same from campaign to campaign. As a result, there is no such thing as a "normal" response pattern. I once worked for a company that had maintained daily response patterns for each campaign for 20 years; and there had never been two identical response patterns for the first three to four weeks of response.

My favorite advice to others is to go on vacation after a mail drop and not call the office at all. Watching daily returns or hearing about them long-distance is nerve wracking. In my own case, however, curiosity overrides all other considerations--and I number myself among the hardy souls who watch daily returns and try to predict final response. Here are two of my favorite tricks to help you figure out whether you have a disastrous or successful response.

As a general rule, third class mailings reach 50 percent of their final response 18 to 21 days after the drop date. If, for example, you drop a campaign on December 21, the doubling point (the point where double the number of orders received so far equals final response) will be roughly January 8 to January 11. This is a nice rule of thumb, but it has its limitations. …

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