Picking Compiled Lists Can Be Daunting

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With the ever-increasing number of list companies and advertised lists, it's growing tougher to select a great list. How do you choose a list company? Do you shop by company or look for a certain list and then contact the owner of that list?

If you wish to saturate a market, then a marketer likely will use a compiled database. Most compiled databases consist mainly of telephone directories. These compiled databases often are available with enhancements or segmentations provided by public records, directory updates and various self-reported consumer surveys. These segmentations often are referred to as selects. Selects can include most demographic information such as age, income, gender, homeowner and many other variables.

Marketers also can target lifestyle data when needing a special segment for a more targeted audience. These consumers usually have completed a survey indicating their individual preferences. Examples of lifestyle data readily available include interests such as cruises, vacations, sports, books, gamblers and crafts.

Most compiled databases are available with a monthly or quarterly update. These updates give marketers a fresh source of new names and usually can be very accurate if demographic selects are applied. Compiled data can be enhanced with known direct mail response behavior or mail-order buyer indicators, which increase the value and responsiveness of these consumer prospects.

Equally important is an aggressive hygiene program to maintain the quality and accuracy of these records. National Change of Address, telephone appends and routine database applications must be applied frequently. Clean data will save mailers at the mail house and post office and give those mailers additional list prospecting dollars.

Great lists are available from various list brokers and managers. Here is a quick checklist to use before you buy a compiled list:

· Ask for references and how long the company has done business.

· Ask for the source of the file in question.

· If appropriate, ask for a sample of the surveys, Web sites or other named sources.

· Request a hygiene schedule or copy of the last NCOA report or CASS certification produced with order.

· Request information on continuation and test use.

Most importantly, use your intuition in making your decision. You must feel comfortable with the person selling you the list, the company you are buying from and the list itself. These guidelines and good judgment will set you on your way to becoming a great list buyer and great list professional.

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