List marketers play the name game

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Gloria Adams, SVP of audience development and book publishing at PennWell Corporation
Gloria Adams, SVP of audience development and book publishing at PennWell Corporation
“I like publishing lists because the list owner has a relationship with the people on the list, and they're in the business of delivering magazines to them so their records are current and clean,” says Susan Miles, VP of Statlistics. “Subscribers have usually responded previously to an offer from the original publisher, so they tend to be [more] responsive.”

Sourcing and usage are important elements

Even so, Miles cautions that diversification in the publishing industry means more questions need to be asked during the selection process.

“Publishers have more of a mixed business model to generate [their own] revenue,” she explains, pointing out that this can change the quality of the list. “If I'm ordering a list that was direct mail generated, but now is to be used for the Internet, it's not going to be as responsive as it was for a direct mail offering.”

To avoid possible pitfalls, Miles advises mar­keters to ask in-depth questions about how the list was created and used.

Previously, marketers typically addressed list acquisition as the last task in campaign development, almost as an afterthought. Kevin Gales, director of relationship marketing at integrated marketing agency HSR Business-to-Business, says this is an old-fashioned and outmoded approach.

“We want to be 100% sure that we've got the right person and right contact information, Gales says. “We need to nail the target first, and find the sources that have the target we need to reach. We do a lot of work helping our clients find out who in the world they need to be talking to.”

According to Gales, 70% of all b-to-b contact data is obsolete within 12 months or so. That's why he's also a proponent of using lists that come from vertical publications.

“If I dial a number that came from a busi­ness card, I probably won't get you,” he says. “Trade publications' subscriptions help ensure that information is relatively fresh. A lot of those publications are updating more frequently now — it could be weekly, monthly, some are even daily. So you can be a little more confident that you have about as good a list as you can get.”

Today, PennWell's Adams and her marketing team don't rely on response rates as the ulti­mate measure of a list's value. Instead, they've delivered strong bottom-line results and lower costs, saying that investing the time required to locate and properly select lists is crucial but isn't always easy.

“Sometimes it just takes good detective work to find the right lists,” she concludes.

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