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                                                                              List and Data Needs

 

LIST BASICS

 

                          There are two main types of mailing lists available:

 

                                        Compiled Lists

                                        Direct Response Lists

 

A Compiled List is comprised of names that have been gathered from a variety of sources that simply list those names that fit a given criteria, i.e. all Phoenix residents; all Insurance Agents, Restaurants, or Used Car dealers.  A compiled list can also include expanded information such as all people living in a specific zip code with incomes over a certain level and within specific age ranges.  There are many types of compiled lists that reflect lifestyles and professions.  These lists are meant to be used by advertisers wanting to reach all people within a given  market segment without qualifying if those people are actually interested in the product that is being sold.

 

A Direct Response List more specifically targets those people who have a demonstrated interest in the product line that is being advertised, and have already responded to the offer by direct mail.   For example, if you are selling health products, you want to target your mailing to people who have already purchased health products by direct mail.   Or, if you are selling fishing lures, it would be important to mail to people who have purchased fishing supplies by direct mail.  It is important to direct your mailing to those people most likely to purchase by direct mail – a direct response buyer .

 

Mailers must identify the market segment that they are trying to reach.  Is it important to reach all residents in a specific zip code area, or males 55+ in age with an income over $60,000?  Or is it more important to reach those people who have actually purchased product or services in the same area that the mailer is trying to target.  There are as many different direct response lists available as there are products being produced.

 

You must identify which kind of list will most likely result in a sale for your particular product or service.

 

I have identified my market, what do I do next?  Most names are rented through the services of a List Broker.  A List Broker has the ability to access many different reference sources to research available lists that will help target your mailing.  They are paid for their services by a commission offered by the list owner.  Although individuals may be able to rent some lists on their own, the majority of list owners and managers will only rent to those orders that are submitted through a list broker.

 

The list broker is able to obtain “data sheets” from the list managers that contain information about the company offering the names, how many names are available, who the list will appeal to, where the list was derived from, and who has previously rented the list, along with other information that will help you make an intelligent decision on which list to rent.

 

When I pay to use a list, isn’t the list mine?  No.  You are paying for a “one-time” usage of the list.  Certain compiled lists will allow unlimited usage for up to one year if additional fees are paid.  But, the general rule of thumb should always be to expect to only use the list for one time.  Most lists are heavily decoyed and the list owners will know if a customer uses a list more than once.  Unauthorized usage of a list is considered theft and is prosecutable.

 

How much does a list cost?  Most list owners will require a minimum order of 5,000 names.  Or, if the order is for less, they will usually require a minimum dollar amount.  The average cost can vary from $40 per thousand names for a compiled list to $150 (or more) per thousand names for a direct response list.  The average cost is between $80 - $125 per thousand.  There are additional charges for selections, i.e. all male or female names, certain states only, etc. as well as fees for CD Rom, Email, or labels, and shipping and handling.

 

The list manager is requiring a sample of my mailing piece – why?  Most owners of direct response lists will require a preview of the mailing piece that will be used.  They can disallow the use of the list for any reason, but generally it is because the product being offered is competitive, or because a reciprocal list is not available to exchange with, or the mail piece is offering free product.  Multi-level marketing companies experience some difficulty with acceptance because so many of the MLM’s do not offer product.  Each time a mail piece changes, a new clearance must be submitted to the list managers for acceptance.  The piece that actually gets put into the mail, must have received acceptance from the company supplying the names.

 

How do I keep from mailing to duplicate names?   The names are processed by computer service bureaus that compare the lists, and through special computer programs, remove any duplicate names.  A rented list can also be merged with a house list with duplicates removed, lowering the costs by not mailing to the same person more than once.  This is known as “merge/purge”.  Diversified Business Services has sophisticated computer software that can help reduce duplicity problems.

 

What rate of response should I expect?   Generally, 2% is regarded to be a good response, but your individual P&L Statements will dictate which percentage of response is adequate.  A 1% response rate that breaks even is still a worthwhile return because the people who have responded is now your client and will most likely purchase additional product from you.  Of course, a poorly written mailpiece or bad offer may not generate any response even with the best of lists.

 

How do I know which list is working best?  The best way is through the use of “key codes”.  These are codes that are usually on the top line of the address that denotes a certain mailing.  If a system is not devised for tracking where your sales are coming from, it will be difficult to assess which list is working best.   If key codes are not possible, galley lists can be purchased which is a computer printout of the names that were mailed on your list.

 

The list I ordered had duplicates and had other data problems .   The truth is that none of the lists will be perfect.  Some lists may come in with names of businesses truncated to fit within their individual database parameters — others may contain perceived duplicates because two people with different names occupy the same residence.  There may be other unintended problems as well, depending on the individual list that is ordered.  Most list owners take much care to minimize these problems, but some data problems of one sort or another will exist with the data.   DBS reviews data prior to sending on for processing and will take action to minimize and correct bad data whenever possible but is not under any legal obligation to do so. 

 

I did a 1st Class mailing and had lots of returned mail - what happened?   There are a lot of reasons why mail would be returned as not deliverable.  Either the person moved and did not file a change of address with the post office.  Or, maybe an apartment number or suite number was not part of the address.  Sometimes with business addresses, large companies require a mail stop number and internal mail departments won’t deliver it.   The Post Office statistics say that 20% of the population is in transit at any point in time.  Most reputable list compilers keep their lists updated on a regular basis - but there will always be a certain portion of a mailing list that will not be deliverable.  A return rate of up to 10% is considered to be industry standard.  Returns can be minimized by mailing at bulk mail rates rather than 1st class or by adding “Or Current Resident” to the address.  A lot of times, mailers don’t like this option but you should consider if it is more important to follow the person to their new address or get returned - or is it more important for the mailpiece to get delivered to a specific address.  Some thought should be given to these issues prior to mailing -- talk to us and let us give you strategy advice. 

 

What format should I use when ordering names?  The names can be issued by the list manager in several forms, depending on your needs, such as:  E-mail or pressure sensitive labels; Excel or TXT.  It is important to make a decision prior to ordering which format will work best for you.  If you are processing your mail piece yourself, pressure sensitive labels may be the best.  If professional services will be used, names should always be ordered in a digital format so that the ability to perform merge/purge, response tracking, and complying with postal regulations for taking postage discounts can be maintained.  If the names are not ordered digitally, your options are limited for maintaining any kind of project control.

 

Marketing your product by direct mail is not an exact science.   You should be prepared to conduct on-going tests to make sure that you are marketing to the correct market segment, and that your mailing piece is designed to bring in new customers.

 

Diversified Business Services is well-known in the list acquisition business.  Please call with any questions you may have.  We welcome the opportunity to work with you.

 

 

Diversified Business Services

Linda Spurlock - President

8655 E Via de Ventura, Ste G200

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

 

Tel:  480.346.1114 / 303.257.2923

 

Diversified Business Services provides Direct Mail Consultation, List Brokerage, Data Management, and other related marketing services to customers throughout the United States.  Our goal is to help our customers make more effective and productive use of their existing marketing resources.  As an outsource resource, our clients receive the benefit of an in-house marketing staff without the overhead.

 

Data Management  •  Data Hygiene  •    Merge/Purge   •   Data Conversion  •   NCOA  •  CASS

 Data Append  •  Personalized Letters  •  Data Entry   Mapping

Low Cost International Mailing

 

The mailing list is the single most important component

of any direct mail campaign.  If you are missing the target, it doesn’t matter what you are selling or how powerful your message is.

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