DM News' The Essential Guide to Lists and Databases: Buying Data With Ease: Is It Possible?

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If only we had an easy way to buy the list we need quickly and painlessly. Online count and order systems make that wish a reality. List companies are putting their lists online so marketers can access what they need, when they need it. And though some companies have done this since the mid-1990s, most are just popping up now. What do you look for in an online provider?

Avoid "Here today, gone tomorrow." Ensure the company is a solid player in the industry and has been around awhile. Ask for references, be sure the site lists a physical address and telephone number and check out its privacy policy or terms of use. If those are buttoned up, then chances are you're dealing with a legitimate data provider.

It's all about access and choice. Sometimes you need your hand held and sometimes you don't. If you are looking for a site to help you with the tough decisions, ensure it has an easy-to-understand wizard or tool to walk you through the count and order process. Then again, if you aren't sure of what you want, ensure the site offers choices, like pulling data by using a map, state, ZIP code and/or carrier route.

Simple is never simply done. If you are just buying a list one time or maybe only once a year, then looking for additional capabilities might not be important. But if you do multiple campaigns through the year, you need a provider who can ensure all your needs are met. For example, don't mail to the same people over and over again. Look for a provider that offers suppression functionality. This way you can suppress past orders and mail only to unique data every time. Another great feature is the ability to save your counts and orders so you don't have to duplicate any of your past efforts.

All that and more. Again, for the frequent buyer of data, you know it doesn't stop there. Your records need to comply with all the legislation out there, and they must be of the highest quality. The site you use should ask for a SANS number when ordering phone numbers (ensuring do-not-call compliance) and offer hygiene services so your data are cleaner than clean.

security, Security, SECURITY. Data security is of the utmost importance. Be comfortable with the site you use and ensure you can retrieve your data in the manner that works for you - whether that be from a secure ftp site, hard copy or e-mailed right to you.

If the site offers you a choice and will deliver the product in the way you deem appropriate, then, in my opinion, you have a winner.

For a PDF of DM News' Essential Guide to Lists, Database Marketing & Data Services, click below:

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