Telemarketing Files Shrink as List Industry Gauges DNC Law's Effect

Many list professionals have seen telemarketing files decrease since the Oct. 1 inception of the national do-not-call list, though some say it's still too early to predict the DNC registry's long-term effect on the list industry.

“We have a lot of telemarketing lists, and probably at least 30 percent of previously available phone numbers have dropped off due to the national do-not-call list,” said Fran Golub, senior vice president of list management at Walter Karl, a Donnelley Company, Pearl River, NY.

“The mailers just can't make as many calls because we have fewer names to give them. The telemarketers are starved for legitimate names now, and we've lost revenue.”

Another list professional said it's too soon to gauge the overall effect on telemarketing files.

“We will be following this change going forward and closely monitoring its effects,” said Ray Schneeberger, senior vice president, list management at List Services Corp., Bethel, CT.

About 15 percent of the files managed by List Services have telephone numbers available.

Catalog list brokerage and management firm Mokrynski & Associates has been unaffected so far.

“Our list owners do not offer telephone numbers,” said Chris Montana, senior vice president/director of list management at Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ. “We work mostly with consumer catalogers, and they want to respect the privacy and the relationships they have with their customers.”

Though responsibility for suppressing the names of consumers on the no-call list lies with the renter of the telephone numbers, at least one list management firm has taken up the task.

“We have the list in-house and are passing all of our managed files against it,” Golub said. “The responsibility technically is not ours but we do it on behalf of our list owners whose lists we maintain in-house, and the list owners love it.”

Mailers who want to rent the names without the DNC list omitted have to sign a waiver, she said.

However, others leave it to the telemarketer's service bureau.

“From a list management standpoint, it makes much more sense to have the mailer do the suppression,” said Laura Smith, vice president/director of management at RMI Direct Marketing Inc., Danbury, CT. “We require mailers who order telephone number selects to do the DNC suppress prior to using the names. If a mailer will not agree to do the suppress, we won't release names.”

RMI Direct manages about half a dozen lists with telephone numbers available.

List Services Corp. also holds the telemarketer responsible for dropping the DNC names.

“LSC asks the broker for the telemarketer's subscriber account number and a statement attesting to the fact that the telemarketer will scrub the file,” Schneeberger said.

When DNC names are dropped at the telemarketer's service bureau, list managers must adjust invoices accordingly for unusable names.

“We invoice mailers for shipped quantities and let them know they can drop DNC suppressions,” Smith said. “We won't know how many DNC drops are taken until we receive payment and computer verification. Our estimate is that adjustments are going to be in the 5 to 8 percent range.”

Though it is still early, some marketers likely will increase their efforts in other channels as telemarketing lists dwindle.

“I think that there is an opportunity here,” Montana said. “One door has closed from a prospecting perspective with respect to the DNC list but another door for some of the companies using outbound telemarketing has opened for increased use of direct mail, insert media and e-mail.”

Montana predicted that insert media would be a major beneficiary of the no-call list.

Golub agreed that a shift is probable but said that it would not be immediate.

“I think it's a little soon for a big shift but marketers that relied a lot on telemarketing will start to do more e-mail and postal mail,” she said. “It's a whole different world, and they will have to restructure their entire marketing plan. I think that will evolve as opposed to happening right away.”

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