Now that you have defined your target audience and understand the different types of marketing lists, here are four important questions to ask before you choose a list to use.
1. Who is offering the list?
Consumer lists are offered to agents by a list owner, manager, or broker for a fee. Reputable list companies compile their information through permission-based activities by which consumers have volunteered their information through surveys and/or permission-based marketing activities. These companies also continuously scrub their lists against “do-not-call” and “ do-not-mail” lists. If they offer e-mail addresses, they will also manage opt-outs per the CAN-SPAM Act. Some important questions to ask potential vendors include:
- How did you collect the data used in your lists?
- How do you manage opt-outs?
- How often do you scrub your lists and/or conduct list hygiene to ensure updated contact information?
- How often are people allowed to mail, call, and/or e-mail the people on your consumer lists?
- What does your company do to ensure consumer privacy?
2. What are the rules for using the list?
Most lists are available for rental, versus purchase. This means that most list providers will not sell a list to you; rather, they will rent a list to you based on certain usage rights. It’s important to make sure that you understand the list usage rules before signing any list rental agreement. Common list rental agreements will give you the option of single use, multiple use or unlimited use:
Single use: Usually the least expensive usage option, a single use agreement gives you the ability to mail, e-mail, or call the people on the rented list one time. Sometimes, the list vendor will ask you for your creative (letter, e-mail, and/or phone script) and they will deploy it on your behalf. This is particularly true with e-mail lists because of all of the rules and regulations surrounding e-mail marketing. In turn, they will provide you with the leads that are generated from your marketing campaign. Most of the time, it’s assumed that when a person responds to your offer, his or her contact information can become part of your company’s database.
Multiple use: A multiple use option will generally be more expensive, but it will provide you with additional opportunities to utilize the list. For example, a multiple use agreement may give you access to a series of three scheduled direct mail campaigns plus two telephone campaigns. If the list company offers a multiple use agreement, ask about your options. You may pay less for a higher volume of list usage.
Unlimited use: An unlimited use option can allow you to mail, call, and or e-mail a list an unlimited number of times for a specified period of time, usually six months or a year. An unlimited use list agreement may be a good idea if you plan to use the list for drip marketing efforts or if you plan to market heavily to a targeted list of potential clients. Some important questions to ask potential vendors include:
- Do you rent or sell your list data? (If they say they “sell” their data outright, for unlimited use, walk away. This is not a reputable company, and this is not good data.)
- What are your list usage options?
- What are your rules for list usage? (Read, understand, and ask questions before you sign on the dotted line.)
- How does list rental price vary according to your list usage options?
3. What is the list format?
List information can be provided to you in a number of ways, or formats. It’s important to understand the format by which the list company will provide data to you or your company.