Book clubs give customers what they want – and more
In a world where millions of books are published annually, it’s hard to keep up, let alone find the ones that suit your interests. What you need is someone who knows what you like and what you’ve bought previously – someone who can guide you toward the books you’d truly be interested in reading. That’s where Book-of-the-Month Club comes in.
Using sophisticated data-mining techniques, the company sorts through its members’ past purchases, compares that to what members with similar interests have bought, then uses all that information to drive consumers to the clubs that best suit their needs.
“These clubs cut through the bookstore clutter,” says Steve Brita, senior vice president, club management and CRM, at Doubleday Entertainment. “People join the club knowing what kinds of products will be in the catalog. They understand there’s an editor out there going through the thousands of manuscripts and pulling out the best books in each of these categories. That’s the service these clubs provide.”
Book-of-the-Month Club has used this kind of personalization for decades to fine-tune its offers and drive sales – online and in the millions of newsletters it mails annually.
Under the umbrella of parent company BOOKSPAN are more than 40 general interest and specialty book clubs serving more than 8.5 million members. The clubs cover a wide range of territory, from mystery to history to books in Spanish. That’s on top of the well-known general interest clubs like Book-of-the-Month Club and Quality Paperback Book Club, along with more niche offerings for people who love a particular author or who require large-print editions.
The BOOKSPAN clubs maintain an extensive database of customers, complete with all their buying information on what clubs they’ve joined and what books they’ve purchased. Using sophisticated segmentation and targeting practices, BOOKSPAN can push out offers for other book clubs within the customer’s area of interest instead of relying on generic promotions for a mass mailing list.
The clubs slice and dice customer records to uncover purchasing patterns, which they in turn use to target special offers. Those offers take many forms such as customized e-mails and inserts. Monthly member mailings include particu-lar add-in flyers based on customer purchasing history.
BOOKSPAN is able to push segmentation even further in the online world. With e-mail marketing, the company can focus on niches that wouldn’t be productive through the mail.
However, the company doesn’t favor one channel over the other, says Brita. “We spend a lot of time putting together a detailed catalog, and you can’t necessarily get the same experience online,” he says. “We look for a balance – we want our customers to see both.”
BOOKSPAN segments the database using a variety of factors, including profitability, number of books purchased and category-specific purchases. The segmentation models consider such details as propensity to buy a particular genre, a particular author, or at a particular price point.
For example, BOOKSPAN would know whether someone purchased more non-fiction than fiction and thus would selectively insert more non-fiction products into the offers. From a price standpoint, the company would determine whether someone was a more or less profitable member and tailor aggressive/less aggressive promotional offers accordingly.
Brita maintains that the BOOKSPAN clubs’ approach produces an accurate merchandising strategy. So, if someone shows a preference for buying historical fiction, but happens to make a one-off purchase of a children’s book as a gift, BOOKSPAN will know not to target them with other children’s fiction. “Our clubs are different in that we legitimately stay true to the editorial calling of the club,” he says.Data Management, Large Business