The Rise of Direct Marketing Freeconomics

Getting intel from datacard search tools

Direct marketers are finding out that when it comes to business intelligence, you may actually get more from what you don’t pay for. As risk tolerance changes with the economy, so does the level of financial accountability. Pencil sharpeners battle with creative minds over the beta for ROI calculations, while marketing budgets often take the biggest hit—a financial compromise that’s far from optimal. Many direct marketers are left to find answers in the public domain, leading to the rise of “direct marketing freeconomics.”

The supply of online information has increased exponentially since the turn of the millennium—and demand has certainly kept its pace, as indicated by the February $44 billion Microsoft bid for Yahoo. The deal didn’t make it through, but that’s a pretty high price to pay for a combination resulting in just a little more than one-fourth of the search engine market. On the flip side, no coin is required to benefit from the wealth of data that these engines process. Many direct marketers are already engaged with freeconomics online. They’re neither freaks nor geeks, but a category of business-savvy professionals who’ve learned to extract valuable marketing information from online list data providers.

The Power of List Marketing Data
So what is this valuable marketing information? How can it be found when a Google search on “free marketing information” returns nearly 22 million results? That’s not so bad when you consider that a search on the word “free” alone returns more than 4 billion listings. It’s no longer free when you consider the opportunity cost of time spent to page through the clutter to find the golden nugget. If the search engine results page isn’t the answer, then what is?

It’s the datacard. Yes, datacards are promotional documents, but they also contain valuable and actionable information. List brokers rely on them for making new list test recommendations, but they’re most often working from private or paid system versions that contain list manager and/or owner information. Furthermore, these brokerage applications provide much more than a search engine—including custom list recommendation modules, advanced search, reporting and analysis, competitive usage, and integrated technology for list order processing. Mailers and agencies rely on these industry experts to do the heavy lifting, and that includes much more than being a “list picker.” Customer profiling, campaign planning, response analyses and data warehousing are just a few of these value-added services used to help lower customer acquisition costs and improve lifetime value.

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