Data can make you or break you in Direct Marketing, whether it is postal, email or telemarketing!
The Internet has made our lives easier, more productive and knowledge more easily attainable since its inception. It is an important part of our daily business and personal lives. When our Internet connection goes down it seems all business and communication comes to a halt. When we have a question about a product or service we immediately search the Internet for quick answers and solutions. It seems we are all rushing around because we have limited time so these quick low cost solutions appeal to us. Logic and comparing options have taken a backseat to speed and convenience. We need a list to prospect. Here’s one! It amazes me how many experienced and inexperienced professionals turn to the web to find a cheap list. Why would you commit all your marketing dollars just to one list when there are over 73,000 postal, email and telemarketing list on the market today? Not all lists are created equally. How do you know you’re getting accurate information? How can you tell if the list you just rented or bought is CAN SPAM compliant? Yes, we all want quick solutions and results to our marketing challenges, but your list choice accounts for 75-85 percent of your success or failure. It is the one process that should not be rushed.
Six facts you should know before renting a list online:
1) Many new to direct marketing flock to the Internet and sign up for one of those low monthly self serve services or share your leads programs. Most, if not all are from compiled sources or up load your contact database. Why would you limit your marketing efforts to only one list source when they’re so many to choose from? You quiet frankly should not be selecting your own data unless you understand data intimately. Each list source or service has strengths and weaknesses. Do you know them? Certain selects are a waste of money since they are derived from inferred data. Does the list match your existing customer base? One rule in direct marketing is that your next customer will look a lot like your last. If your friend broke his or her leg, would you look on the Internet for a cheap doctor or use every resource to find the best?
2) Many compilers set up wholesale arrangements with other list companies. Some run their counts and order off an online system set up by the compiler. In many cases these vendors resell the data on lower margins than the compiler. This allows for lower costs on small orders that are not profitable for the compiler to serve directly. Where this gets really scary is when the vendor negotiates a data install and sells the data really cheap. Sometimes they pay for updates, but when things are slow, well your renting data that can be more than a year old. The USPS has Move Update regulations in place that have to be followed or mailing costs will increase. Since you want to save on postage and who doesn’t, you mail 3rd class bulk. You want to increase your response rates so you start calling after your mailing only to find that 30%+ never received your mail piece. Why? 20% of consumers change their address each year on average. For B2B when you combined openings, closings and moving the percentage is even higher. None of your mail comes back undeliverable because it is 3rd class and is tossed out. Can you tell who is taking an install of data and not updating it as frequently as the actual compiler? You will not find that on the Internet!
3) A big problem today and the main reason for writing this article is email marketing. Is email really cheaper than postal and can you really send out a million names for only $19.95? The fact is not everyone should be renting 3rd party email files and you certainly should not be selecting your own list here either. There are many companies claiming they can reach every audience with their email file. This is absolutely not true. Many are harvesting names off the Internet (via web crawling or spidering) or setting up registration sites for the sole purpose of collect email addresses. Any company willing to provide the email addresses directly to you is not CAN SPAM compliant. I don’t know any legitimate email source that will provide you with their data out right. Anyone who releases their e-mail list is basically giving away their bread and butter with out any way of policing the use of it, would you give away your client file to just anyone?? If they are selling the actual addresses to many different companies then who is taking care of the opt-outs or unsubscribed?
Tip: Ask for the source of the data. Where can you go to register? Remember, you want a file that matches your best prospect from your customer database. Look for focused publications or focused legitimate websites that offer real content to subscribers that offer an email option. If you don’t have good brand recognition within your target market, email may not be for you. If you want to be black listed or have your ISP shut down due to SPAM or damage your brand don’t hire a list broker who will avoid these traps.
4) Keys to successful direct marketing: Postal, email and telemarketing
Your Best Customers
Take a hard look at your existing customer base. This applies to both consumer and B2B. Find out their age, income, title, industry, married, single, children, geography etc. You will know have profile of who your best customers are and where they come from. This will not only make it easier to find a list of best customer prospect, but where to spend your marketing dollars in other channels such as, traditional media, radio, etc... with less waste.
5) When your marketing to only a few zip codes compiled data is usually your only option. There is only a hand full of national compilers for consumer and B2B. Each has their strengths and weaknesses so knowing when to use one over the other is key. Compiled data should not be considered as a last resort list source. Most of the direct response lists on the market use compiled files for data over lays to enhance the demographic selects on their files. The key is to know which compiler to use for your offer and which selects or omits to choose that will increase response rates. When you have a larger geographic area to work with your list choices increase dramatically. Since you now have a profile of your best customer prospects matching a direct response list(s) is simplified. In many cases your lists choices are numerous and can be quiet confusing. Hire a professional who has experience in your industry!
6) Here is why your list broker should be your new best friend.
A list brokers guides you towards the best list(s) for your offer based on past client experiences and industry knowledge. A broker will steer you away from non-performing lists and selections. The list owner pays a list broker a standard commission only when an order is placed. What that means is the list brokers service to you is free and their primary goal is to make your direct marketing experience as successful as possible.
As you can see there is more than meets the eye when selecting lists. Knowing how data is gathered, updated, and strengths and weakness of data sources is a full time job. This is not something you can learn on the Internet quickly because it takes years of experience working with mailers and many different list sources. Unlike other mediums, direct marketing is 100% tractable and when treated as a science predictable over time.
Tom Palmese, VP Mazzone Marketing Group, specializes in list acquisition and marketing programs for B2B and Consumer mailers in the USA and Canada. He can be reached at 516-665-1220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.