Shopping for a List Online at 2 a.m.?
With one click I challenged it to change my life and the way I think about researching mailing lists. I looked up opportunity seekers from its database of 4,900 yellow pages and 500 white pages phone books it said it uses. I did not know that you could get opportunity seekers from the white pages or that there even was an "Opportunity Seekers" heading in the yellow pages.
I clicked further. The cost was $65 per thousand -- or you could buy 100 names for $15. On the upside, 10,000 names cost $450. But its guarantee scared me off. It would send you two names for every one that came back. I did not want to clean its list so I left. It was 2 a.m., 12 minutes later.
Back at Google, Listbazaar.com, a Web site of infoUSA, also came up at the top of paid spots. It offered selections from a database of 12 million businesses, 250 million consumers and would also sell me a CD Directory of phone books.
Undaunted by my resistance, it then tried to close me on a "Customer Analyzer," which carried a $250 price tag, then cost $250 for 500 names -- which I passed on quite readily.
I clicked toward a count of motorcycle dealers in a 20-mile radius of Philadelphia. I found I could buy the full records of two dozen or so dealers for $10.80, or the base records of dealers for $6. Exit, 16 minutes later.
After a brief stint at Google and a scan down the list of mailing list URLs, I went to Accurateleads.com from Dimark. Its site runs off of 40,000 databases. It offers about 50 specialty lists and offer counts -- but not in real time (I will get a call tomorrow with the count). So, with a click and a whoosh, I headed out at 2:23 a.m., just seven minutes later.
Back at Google I fumbled through several more sites, then landed on No. 11, USAdata, which is Acxiom. I went in. Click: Select by state. Click: advanced list data. Click: 10 to 19 employees and bingo -- Pennsylvania businesses with 10 to 19 people. The list had 37,233 records that I could buy at 20 cents a name or $7,446.60. I then proceeded directly to step four, which is pay and get list.
But, somehow I felt cheated. I felt I should have at least run across a "thank you" by this time -- especially if I was going to plunk down $7,446.60 after being at its site for less than 20 minutes. So I looked for the "back" button and ... there was no going back.
Not yet ready to commit to a $7,000 purchase, I navigated my way to earlier screens and found pop-up miniscreens kept appearing out of nowhere. Clicking around some more, I kept returning to the same screens. So I left 16 minutes after entering its site.
At the 40th slot at the search engine was ZAPDATA from IMARKET and D&B. If you have not heard of ZAPDATA by now, and its offer for 50 free leads -- touted in its many mailings and full-page ads in all the trade rags -- where have you been? So I figured I would go in to get my 50 free leads.
But no. It wanted me to register first. And from the looks of the form I was to sign over my life for 50 stinkin' leads. I left.
Then I typed "Direct+Marketing+Mailing+Lists" into the search parameters on Google and bam -- 4,674,237 pages of catalogs came up. Oops. Finally, the thinkdirectmarketing not-quite-ready-for-prime-time site came up. I clicked on "articles" thinking I could finally learn something and one article came up. The "Books" link took me to Amazon ... and I never did find a list and left 12 screens and six minutes later.
So I scrolled to dmoz.org/business/marketing/direct_marketing, which shows about 100 mailing list links, with one-line descriptions of each. Some were familiar names, but some of the biggies were absent -- like infoUSA and Edith Roman, the firm that sent me the nicest list catalog I ever received.
Knowing the information is out there I typed in EdithRoman.com and finally found some familiar turf. I had enough clearance from previous client work to fully access counts and databases.
While I could get Standard Industrial Classification code counts and a few demographics with the provided click boxes, I could not get multiple overlays that were not included in its checkbox page. Additional information and the tough, lean questions about files that I like to ask list vendors were lacking. File usage, not there. Number of file continuations or rollouts, nope. Recency, frequency, monetary, no. Data card information - yes, for some files.
The Web doesn't do everything, but for basic list investigations or an hour's entertainment for a DM junkie at 2 a.m., it's great.