AMiable Solution #399: How to Pick the Perfect List
If you want to grow your business—as most businesses do—you need to increase your customer list. Although there are many ways to do this, depending on your product, service, or industry, one popular and trackable way is through direct mail.
But while renting mailing lists is easy, especially if you work with a list broker, who can provide you with a selection of recommended lists, finding the perfect lists can be hard.
Well, sometimes the lists you really want, the ones that you know would perform well for your promotion, aren’t available. Sometimes that coveted list is owned by a competitor who views your offer as too close to theirs. Other times a list simply isn’t available for rent.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can still find and rent a potentially great rental list, as long as you know what to watch for:
· Frequency of updates and date of last update. Some list owners update their rental lists quarterly. Others, especially those compiled from publically-available sources, are updated annually. Before you jump on a mailing list, make sure you understand the source of the list and confirm that the list has been updated within the last year, at least. If the list looks old but would otherwise be tempting, check with the list manager about an update. One may be available or due soon. If the list hasn’t been touched in some time, steer clear.
· Availability of selects. A good list will not only include the people who are most likely to be interested in your product, service, or cause, but it will also offer you opportunities to further target your list. For example, if your service is available to a limited geographic area only but you can’t rent only those names, the cost of mailing to “out-of-area” contacts is not only damaging to your ROI, but also to your reputation. Likewise, mailing to all of the members of a particular association won’t be much use to you if you’re offering something of limited interest.
· Rate. The saying, “you get what you pay for,” applies to many things, including mailing list rentals. Expect to pay at least $100 per thousand for membership lists, buyers’ lists, subscriber lists, etc. Lists that cost less than that, in general, indicate a lower source quality, namely compiled lists. Compiled lists can work for the right promotions, but be aware of source difference and its impact on your market.
Finally, if a list looks really good to you, be sure to look beyond the datacard. Research the company, if you can. You might find that “previous attendees of seminars on XYZ” sounds like your type of buyer, but when you dig a little deeper, you might discover that the seminar topics are pretty off-topic of your offer.