Get the most bang for your mailing list buck

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Denise Hopkins
VP of strategic marketing, Experian Marketing Services

Whether your marketing campaigns employ traditional direct mail or take a multimedia approach, the foundation for any successful campaign is the best-targeted marketing list. That is a crucial starting point toward ensuring that your messaging is both effective and cost-efficient.

List accuracy is dependent on several factors, including sourcing. Lists compiled from multiple sources — such as directories, public records and self-reported data - offer the most comprehensive view of consumers. Multiple data points offer valuable insight to your target audience as the various views of the consumer come together to provide a complete and accurate picture of that consumer. With additional information about prospects, you will be better positioned to effectively target your offer and messaging to better match their needs.

It's also important to consider the frequency with which compiled data are refreshed. Weekly and monthly updates of important data such as contact information, occurrence of a life event or recent transactions all impact not only the accuracy of your marketing list, but also the likelihood your target audience will respond.

Beyond list deliverability, marketers also need to consider how analytics and modeling can make their campaigns more effective. The real key to success for any campaign is making sure you've identified the best possible target audience, the manner in which they prefer to receive marketing messages and which messages are most likely to resonate with them.

Modeling and analytics are critical planning tools to employ at the start of any campaign. Once you have determined the action you want, whether it's an online purchase or an inquiry to an inbound call center, you can then use predictive modeling to target the right person with the right message through the right channel. This pinpoint accuracy improves response rates, increases brand loyalty and puts you top of mind with your target audience the next time they are looking to buy.

The Takeaway
The more often a list is refreshed, the better quality its prospects

Jeff Moriarty

VP of list management, MeritDirect

The current economic climate continues to create tremendous pressure on today's direct marketing professionals to generate a healthy return on every penny spent. Although faced with list cost and subsequent response and conversion rate challenges, many direct marketers are taking an opportunistic approach in finding new ways to execute winning campaigns. Strategically, it appears that multichannel campaigns are growing in frequency across several vertical markets, with government-, education-, healthcare- and information technology-based mailers leading the way. Multichannel mailers are having so much success with their campaigns that list owners offering matching postal, e-mail and phone records are realizing significant increases in list rental revenue.

List buyers now have the ability to rent a growing number of lists via a multitouch list program that fits their needs, spreading out the campaign over several weeks or months depending on the list type. Ordering the lists up front for an integrated campaign from a single list owner will almost always present the buyer with a discounted rate.

It is important to take advantage of the multichannel pricing plans that are available. List owners view the purchase as multi-use campaigns - and will usually offer price reductions on the second or third use. For example, a mailer will typically pay an average of $150/M for postal, $225/M for phones and $400/M for e-mail individually, with a total CPM of $775/M for a quality business-to-business response list. For the same program — assuming the buyer is willing to place orders for all uses on up front — the mailer may see multichannel pricing packages ranging in cost from $600/M to $700/M resulting in significant list cost savings.

It is important to closely review datacard information and confirm with the list broker or list owner the number of matching records within the list. Find quality lists that have a high percentage of matching postal, phone and e-mail records, negotiate multichannel pricing and watch your integrated direct marketing campaign results soar.

The Takeaway
Buy lists in different channels as part of an integrated campaign for a price break

Jay Schwedelson
Corporate VP, Worldata

Negotiation as it relates to list rental pricing is critical in today's marketplace. If you are renting in excess of 20,000 names off of any list and not receiving some kind of a price discount, then you are being overcharged.

This is the reality of the current list rental environment. It really is a simple form of supply and demand. With new lists being brought to market every day and mailers cutting back on volume, clearly price is going to come down.

The major areas where list discounting is taking place are consumer direct mail and consumer e-mail. These two categories mirror the overall economy. However, you still get what you pay for. Be careful when you are using lists that have no continuation usage from other prominent mailers, as this is a clear indication of potential lists to avoid.

Another good tip is to renegotiate the pricing structure of any lists you have been using. Just because you have been paying a certain price for a list for a long period of time does not mean that you can't improve on the price that you are paying. Anywhere that you can cut costs by an extra 10% or more will add up and improve the overall return on your marketing investment.

A simple way to improve the quality of data you may be purchasing when using business-to-business e-mail files is to omit certain consumer based domains. Most people would be surprised to learn that many of the leading business-to-business e-mail files are made up of contacts at domains such as, and others. Those domains are not commonly used by businesses. Omitting these e-mail names from the potential pool of names you may be renting will allow you to reach a more qualified audience for your offer without any additional cost being added to your overall program.

The Takeaway
The list rental marketplace is open to negotiation — try to work out a fair price

Charles Teller

EVP ParadyszMatera

Direct mail list universes are down, and response rates indicate they won't be growing anytime soon. Hearing that news, along with cost-cutting mandates, makes it tempting to forego investment in outside lists. But, now more than ever, leveraging lists for prospecting is a critical element to any mailers' sustainability. Revenue streams for the next two years are dependent on today's new customers. Some areas of focus can help you stay in the mail.

Among the best of these areas are segment expansions and re-use pricing. Available segment expansions — source, recency, expires/lapsed or lower dollar, for example — are obvious ways to carve out more mail volume from top lists. Consider remailing these same names from a prior campaign. Despite some response reduction, they'll generally perform better than the bottom of your plan.

Also, negotiated reuse pricing (net/net, selects waived, lower base CPM) will bolster profit and loss statements. Do you have a creative in the file cabinet that was close, but didn't beat the control? It might win on a second look to reuse segments.

There are some other things to try as well — its time to take off the gloves and use every means to improve performance. Keep in mind that list owners are more willing to negotiate on selects than ever. Get the tightest recency, dollar, source and other selects possible — if they're not available, push for them. Have a ZIP, household or other optimization model available? Use it to grab the best of the best from the rest or to skim the worst. Don't use incentives? If there is a time and place, it might be now and these would be the names to try it on.

The willingness to negotiate doesn't end with selects. List owners are willing to negotiate everything from traditional base/selects and net names to non-traditional elements like merge priority to improve net, post-merge optimization models and even free orders — something like three for the price of two. And don't bluff about the needed price. We've canceled a record number of orders this year, but had success when we placed the next round.

The Takeaway
Re-using names with new creative can lead to cost savings


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