B-to-B List Basics: 10 Keys to Making Good List Choices

With thousands of B-to-B lists available, it can be hard to know where to start. These are the key attributes and tips you need to jump-start your B-to-B acquisition efforts.
1. Quantity
Prospecting lists can range in size from less than 1,000 names to 1 million names or more. The traditional approach to direct marketing is to test a small portion of the list, then mail, call or email to a larger portion if the initial test is successful. Some marketers avoid small lists for this reason, because the total number of names available limits the opportunity to market again after a successful test.

Tips: If you’re targeting hard-to-find prospects, small, specialized lists may be the best means of reaching certain markets and can lead to the best conversion rates and ultimately the highest ROI.

2. Description
Read the description to get a better understanding of the market the list represents and how the data is gathered. Be wary when a prospecting list does not contain this information.

Tips: Each data card should contain a paragraph or two about the background of the list: its source, history, a profile of the type of buyers it represents and a description of the product they bought, the publication they subscribe to or the tradeshow they attended. Use this information to evaluate multiple lists within a specific vertical market.

3. Average Order Size
This figure represents the average size of the purchase made by the buyers on the list. Obviously, this metric is only available for buyer-sourced files.

Tips: Average order size will give you a good indication of whether the people on the list are likely to pay your prices or generate the type of return you are looking for from your prospecting efforts.

4. Percentage Direct Mail-Generated
You’ll often see the phrase “95% direct mail-generated” or “100% direct mail-generated” on data cards. This refers to the percentage of the names on the list obtained through response to a direct mail offer. The higher the percentage, the better.

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