Find Something New in All Those Lists

In almost all cases, new lists aren't really new.

Each year, however, 4 million new human beings are born in the United States. A surprising proportion of all births are to first-time mothers — 44 percent. This includes all births to mothers under 15 years of age and 76 percent of mothers ages 15-19. Almost a third of all births — 32 percent — are born to unmarried women who obviously make up a large percentage of first-time mothers. And with or without a male parent in the same household, such new mothers — if living separately from their own relations — will be brand new members of brand new households.

New births are among the major pressures leading to the creation of new homeowners. There are thought to be 2.3 million to 2.5 million new homeowner mortgages each year. This, of course, includes families trading up, families buying a second home, newlyweds just starting their married lives together, families with children moving to targeted areas for better schooling or a more conducive environment to raise children. A good-sized proportion of families with newborns require either initial or enlarged living quarters.

One of the nation's major list compilers assesses all new consumer real estate transactions — as recorded daily in detail for each county at the office of the county recorder. This is the only methodology that can be used to compile a list of new homeowners and obviously is a painstaking affair.

Abstract Records Services, Monrovia, CA, compiles 2 million such records each year, the majority of which are first-time mortgages (new dwelling units, mostly one-family residences) while the balance consists of home refinancing.

Now, just as there are new consumers, there are new businesses. One million new phone listings appear in the Yellow Pages each year and are available monthly from infoUSA and a few other compilers of business names. In essence, the universe of 11 million listings stays roughly the same each year, as the 1 million new businesses replace an equal number of business phones, which because of failure, change of name or absorption by another company, show as expires on the business file.

infoUSA, Omaha, NE, updates all businesses and all classified telephone listings monthly and adds SIC and employee strength to each record making this a top business list.

The Internet now is the source for all kinds of new lists buyers, advertisers, services and, in particular, a file of more than 2 million individual sites worldwide — three-quarters of which are in the United States. This filing is growing 75,000 a month, or close to 1 million records each year. However, this doesn't result in an addition of 1 million sites a year. (Note: in the five years that the Internet has been around, it has grown on average about 400,000 a year.) For just like business lists in general, URLs are subject to expiration. One way such expiration can be captured is proof of nonpayment of the license for the coming year.

One company, iAtlas, Laurel, MD, provides coverage of every URL site in the world, by date started plus a history of each URL for the five years Internet data has been available. It can provide data for current URLs only on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

In recognition of the importance of the infoUSA data, iAtlas has a participation agreement in which quarterly (and soon monthly) infoUSA matches the URL list of iAtlas against its business universe file, which then provides iAtlas with 2-4-6 digit SICs and employee strength on 70 percent of U.S. and Canadian URLs. It's this matched data that makes the iAtlas list the premier URL list in its field. The penetration of URLs against the infoUSA universe is more than 10 percent and growing each month. URLs add a significant selection factor to business lists, which is particularly important in the construction of databases for database marketing. From a size point of view (employment strength), the URL consists of two major segments:

* Small firms (fewer than 10 employees) where the owner and chief administrator and his technical adviser are running a new entrepreneurial entity. This is one of the largest sources of new, small businesses.

* URLs for already established businesses and institutions and offices of professionals. The listed executives at such URLs are different from the executives found on the conventional mail-order buyers and magazine and newsletter subscriber files. Thus, this is an attractive source of hard-to-reach executive talent.

Without a doubt, the Web is the greatest incubator of new list data today. Just a mere listing of availability is impressive:

* URLs by type: 1.5 million in the United States; 500,000 foreign; 75,000 new matches — commercial, educational, government, network, nonprofit and user groups, headquarters only and satellites only.

* Manpower: Administrators, technical contacts and billing contacts.

* Specialized segments: Services by type, Internet service providers and operations systems.

* E-mail lists: Compiled and opt-in lists by classification.

* Promoting on the Web: Advertising, sales by company and classifications.

Most other new names available for mailing list use in general are additions that don't provide first new businesses or first-time listings of individuals.

To put it into context, such new list data consists of new attributes for consumer and business people and businesses already on the file. (From a database point of view, this is likened to manna.)

Such new lists of attributes that proliferate in the list business include: mail-order buyers, consumer and business; magazine recipients, consumer and business; warranties; survey responses; accredited professionals, doctors, lawyers, accountants, business consultants; Who's Who additions; listings in directories and membership rosters; government employees and executives; stockholders; car owners; telephone subscribers; voters; churchgoers; credit cards and charge accounts; employees; movers; donors to charitable causes and executives.

In reviewing the above data on new in the list field, one should consider the universe of all names in the United States. The list business provides more than 25,000 separate lists covering more than 2 billion names, but with the exception of the small number of true new names, these 2 billion names all pertain to a universe of just 110 million consumer households and 11 million nonhouseholds.

America is a nation of change. Close to 20 percent of U.S. families move to new locations each year (and 15 percent of businesses are gone each year, to be replaced by an equal percentage of new and/or changed entities). Only one in five fledgling new businesses is still around five years later, and some of these survivors die in the subsequent year. It's likely this type of attrition will be paralleled by the URL list.

Those who fill executive positions have an even shorter average life. Almost half of the individual names on a business list will be gone, dead, have moved to a new job or are working elsewhere within a year. The message is clear: A one-year-old list is so burdened with the cost of undeliverables that it must be mailed sparingly. New lists and new current adds to lists are a far safer bet.

Ed Burnett is a list consultant in New York.

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