Determining the direct mailing frequency with dynamic stochastic programming
Both in business to business and in consumer markets direct mailings are an important means of communication with individual customers. This paper studies the mailing frequency problem that addresses the issue of how often to send a mailing to an individual customer in order to establish a profitable long-term relationship rather than targeting profitable groups of customers at every new mailing instance. The mailing frequency is optimized using long-term objectives but restricts the decisions to the number of mailings to send to the individual over consecutive finite planning periods. A stochastic dynamic programming model that is formulated for this problem is easy to solved for many applications in direct mailing. A particular implementation of the model will provide the direct mailer with controls to stimulate desired response behavior of their customers. The model is calibrated for a large non-profit organization and shows that very large improvements can be achieved by approaching the mailing strategy with the mailing frequency problem, both in the number of mailing to send and in the profits resulting from the responses.