Submitted by: Steve Longley, CEO, TPG Direct

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 potential benefit.  Rather, 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.

Former customers and non-converters give marketers a lot 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.  By combining previous business contact data, such as response, conversion, lifetime value and more, 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 that are not 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. 

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.

A contact strategy should then be developed that considers the timing and frequency of offers post purchase or inquiry.

Many marketers have found their previous business contacts to be the cornerstone of their further efforts, creating economies that can help subsidize prospecting.  Those names are like investable assets…it is up to us to maximize the yield from them. 

Steve Longley is CEO of TPG Direct, a customer acquisition  agency direct marketing agency based in Philadelphia, and part of the Omnicom national network.  He can be reached at