The selection of the proper postal and email lists is one of the most critical elements of any direct response program.
Unfortunately, too many people involved in promotional programs for their products and services do not give proper time and consideration to the selection of the list.
The quality of your product or service is immaterial if your message does not reach those people who are most interested in it and those most likely to respond.
Likewise, your mailing package or email, no matter what its quality, will be ineffective if not placed in the hands of real and responsive prospects.
To plan a successful direct mail and/or email program, you must plan carefully the selection and use of the lists.
To help you make such an important decision, I have prepared a list of common pitfalls for you to avoid.
Pitfall No. 1 – Failure to Seek Advice From a Professional List Consultant:
Too often, marketers assume that they can select the best mailing lists simply by thumbing through a list catalog or a “list complier” or “list owner” found on google searches.
Not so.
A professional list cost consultant can make you money – or even save your campaign.
And, since professional advice is available at no cost (list brokers earn their fees through the rental of lists), it just makes smart business sense to tap their expertise and experience before you make your list decision.
Pitfall No. 2 – Failure to Talk to an Experienced List Broker or Consultant:
It is also important that you select a professional list broker or consultant, and not a list peddler. You want to make sure the recommendations you receive are based on knowledge and experience of similar promotions … not “guesstimations.”
Pitfall No. 3 – Failure to Locate the Most Responsive Lists:
Not all lists are equal.
For postal mail, you want only direct mail response names.
For email, you want buyers, not tire kickers.
A good consultant will guide you what to get and what to avoid like the plague.
Pitfall No. 4 – Failure to Implement Advanced Data Modeling
Advanced data modeling can increase your profits, response and universe/number of potential users.
But most in the industry do not know how to provide advanced data modeling – never rely on the modeling company’s advice alone.
Pitfall No. 5 – Failure to Use All the Tools Available:
Most brokers don’t know how to leverage 2x, 3x, 4x buyers properly, merge purge, optimization and other useful strategies that add to your bottom line.
Pitfall No. 6—Failure to Adequately Test:
Too often, those going into direct marketing do not make provisions for adequate testing of lists.
Testing is the key to successful direct marketing programs.
Minimum tests of 6,000 to 10,000 names per list should be made in order to determine the extent of your market and feasibility of rollouts.
Explore peripheral areas by testing list segments, and you will then have the highest potential of return. Rolling out to the most successful names will provide you with the highest returns.
Pitfall No. 7— Failure to Test Segments Within a List:
Testing a list and analyzing the results is important, but it shouldn’t stop there.
Too often mail marketers fail to take a hard look at the list to find the different ways it can work for them.
What are the different segments available on the list? Are the most recent names available?
Is it possible to select those names representing multiple purchases … minimum dollar purchase amount … full term subscribers … credit card orders, and other factors.
These are a few of the questions you should ask, especially on those marginal lists where a rollout of the entire list would be risky.
Pitfall No. 8 — Failure to Omit Test Names on Rollouts:
When you return for the balance of the list, make sure you omit the original test names. If the names are not omitted, your response rate will probably drop.
Your original test order must indicate that you wish the test names to be saved in the computer’s memory in order to ensure that an omission for a rollout, if warranted, will be possible.
Pitfall No. 9 — Failure to Use Caution on the Rollout:
When an initial test seems to work, don’t assume that the entire list will necessarily work (even after careful mathematical computations).
Dishonesty sometimes occurs. It has actually happened that a 5,000-name test turned out to be the most recent names of active subscribers to a publication.
When the mailer went back for the balance of more than 100,000 names, the owner of the list included his inquirers and expires, which caused the response to drop dramatically … resulting in a tremendous loss for the mailer.
A good consultant will guide you through with caution.
Pitfall No. 10 — Failure to Mail to a Responsive List Often Enough:
There is no set formula for how many times and how often you should mail to a proven list.
Consider the percentage of response it yielded, then determine on that basis when you should mail again.
Continue using the list until response falls below your profit point.
One large mailer I work with mails successfully to several repeat lists once a month.
You should feel comfortable repeating to the same list within 3–4 months if your original response was adequate. However, be prepared for drop-off from the original response.
Pitfall No. 11— Failure to Understand That the Best Lists Often Cost More:
Mailing lists, like all goods and services, are rising in price.
The question you should be concerned with is not how expensive the mailing list is, but how well it will pull. Those who shop around to find the least expensive lists, often find that in the end they lost money due to poor response.
There you have 11 of the most common pitfalls involved in the selection and use of postal and email mailing lists in direct marketing.
There are more, of course, but if proper consideration is given to what list you choose … if the proper questions are asked … you will find that you won’t be running into what could turn out to be a disastrous promotion.
Lists can be highly profitable. They can also create tremendous losses. It all depends upon making sure that the lists you choose are the right lists—and exactly what you ordered.
Feel free to call me for your next list mix. We know the list market inside out.
There are hundreds of exciting, new lists and I’ve been tracking the best ones.
My team at my postal/email company at InfoMat has access to over 50,000 lists, representing millions of qualified prospects.
Our phone number is 1-310-212-5944.