Posts Tagged ‘counts’

This count is sucking your blood

Friday, March 6th, 2009

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There’s a count that’s sucking your blood. No, it’s not Count Dracula. I’m talking about mailing list counts. Slow counts are sucking the lifeblood out of your direct marketing programs.

When prospecting for new customers with direct marketing, you generally need to rent mailing lists. But you don’t usually rent the whole list. You order the subset of the list that matches your target audience.

For example, when ordering from a list of doctors, you might select the subset of doctors that are brain surgeons practicing in New Hampshire.  So the question is… How many names meet your criteria?

To get this count, somebody has to run a database query to get the answer to your question.

Time for a pop quiz: How long does it take to get the count?

  • 2 milliseconds
  • 2 seconds
  • 2 minutes
  • 2 hours
  • 2 days
  • 2 weeks

Believe it or not, 2 days is the industry standard.  I know what you are thinking… “No way! It only takes 2 seconds to run that simple query!” You’d be right about that.  But this was a trick question. I didn’t ask you how long it takes to run the query. Instead, I asked how long it takes to get your answer.

So why does it take 2 days to get your answer?  The slow turnaround is a result of a series 0f delays in the process… So let’s review the process

  1. First, the mailer asks the broker for a count.  It sits in the broker’s inbox or voice mail for an hour or two.
  2. Then the broker reviews and refines the request and forwards it to the list manager.  The request again sits for an hour or two.
  3. The list manager forwards this to their counts person. This person may be on staff or at a service bureau.  Again this request sits in a queue for a couple of hours before it gets serviced.
  4. The counts person then configures the query
  5. runs the count
  6. and sends the result back to the list manager. This process only takes a couple of minutes. But again the answer sits in the list manager’s inbox for a couple of hours.
  7. The list manager then reviews the results for accuracy.  In many cases, the count is off and we have to rerun with different criteria.  However, let’s assume this is acceptable and so it gets forwarded on to the list broker.  Again this sits in the list broker’s queue for a couple of hours.
  8. The list broker then has to review and incorporate the count result into their recommendation along with the counts from all the other lists in their recommendation.  The chance that at least one of these counts is delayed is very high.
  9. Then finally, the broker sends the counts with the recommendations back to the mailer. 

With all the delays and hiccups, this process typically takes two days!

Why is this process so slow? It’s disconnected from the workflow. It’s a low priority because nobody makes any money running counts. It’s error-prone, time-consuming, and disruptive. It’s just very difficult to manage.

What do slow counts cost you?

It drives up your personnel expenses. The slow service makes you look bad and forces hasty decisions. Those bad decisions hurt the performance of your direct marketing campaigns which lowers your revenue which, in turn, lowers your return on marketing investment. All of this combined reduces the demand for your services, which puts you into a viscous cycle of lower profits and reduced service.

What’s missing is infrastructure.

What’s missing is a bridge between the data card and the data. Data cards are central to the daily workflow of list brokers and list managers.  They use data cards all day every day to get their job done. If we bridge the gap between data cards and the data, then we will dramatically streamline the workflow

Consider the data card. If we add a counts button to the data card, then it would enable buyers to request counts electronically in a consistent way.

And because the count requests are electronic they can be handled efficiently and tracked automatically.  In most cases, the query can be run automatically once approved.

The result of this technology is a dramatically streamlined process that cuts turnaround time to hours, minutes, or even seconds!

This simple act of streamlining counts has many benefits. It will drive down your personnel expenses. The fast service makes you look good and enables better decisions. Those good decisions will improve the performance of your direct marketing campaigns which increases your revenue which, in turn, increases your return on marketing investment. All of this combined increases the demand for your services which now puts you into a virtuous cycle of higher profits and improved service.

This technology isn’t some far off pipe dream.

NextMark Select is the name of this technology… and it’s very real. And it will soon be available to you. Stay tuned.