Anatomy of an E-mail Data Card
By Hallie Mummert
Reading a data card for an e-mail address list is much easier than deciphering hieroglyphics, especially if you're familiar with data cards for postal address lists. Rather than reinvent the wheel, list managers use the same template for both list types to provide a uniform research tool for list brokers and marketers.
While the format may be familiar, you can't put your brain on auto-pilot when perusing potential e-mail list test options. Some irregularities exist that require your attention. Here is an analysis of the typical e-mail list data card to provide you with some research pointers.
Most lists will provide one count for the entire file, since individual breakouts aren't as prevalent with e-mail files as they are with postal lists. For those e-mail lists that do feature a breakout, the segments are usually domestic, Canadian or international.
Generally, compiled files that are based only on registries tend to offer more volume. E-mail lists that are composed of subscribers to a print vehicle or buyers of a product or service are usually smaller.
A base CPM is the norm, with rates running between $85/M and $375/M or more. Some marketers offer tier pricing for fund-raisers and non-affinity offers; these discounts might be as much as $20/M off the base price.
If tier pricing is not offered on an e-mail list data card, it can't hurt to ask anyway. Some list owners may be agreeable to negotiating a reasonable discount to help you make the list work for your product or service.
One interesting aspect of e-mail list pricing is the transmission fee. Some list owners/managers include the fee in the base CPM; others charge a separate transmission fee on a CPM basis. Generally, data cards for e-mail lists post the transmission CPM along with the base rate details—but this is not standard. You may find this pricing under the terms and conditions section or in the addressing section.
If the data card does not list a transmission fee, it's probably included in the base rate; to be sure, call and ask.
The high-speed environment of the online world means frequent change for e-mail lists. To verify the timeliness of an e-mail list, it's good to find out how often the file is updated, through what date the addresses were collected, when the last update took place and when the next update will occur. You want to rent the file when it's most current.
As far as updates go, most lists are freshened monthly, some on a weekly basis and far fewer companies perform maintenance on a daily basis.
None, however, define what "update" means. Does the list owner simply add new records, or is the entire file cleaned and processed through E-mail Change of Address? This is an important detail to know.
Source media tend to be a blend of direct mail, Web sites and e-mail.
Good insight comes from a percentage breakdown for each medium used; even better is more precise information on how the addresses were collected. Some list profiles will include this detail; for example, the Red Herring Opt-In Email file (managed by American List Counsel) notes that subscribers have registered at Red Herring Online to attend conferences, access editorial content and view sponsored links online.
When looking for the collection method, also pay attention to whether the names are permission-based. Most are, but data cards don't always spell this out. Ask detailed questions about the collection process to discern the depth of the file's opt-in status.
This section of the data card is comparable to that of postal address data cards. It delivers a brief summary of the characteristics displayed by the people on the file. Some list owners/managers offer detailed breakouts on gender, education levels, marital status, presence of children, average household income, etc.
Business-to-business lists share details on titles, purchasing authority, education levels, age, availability of business address, and more.
Another similarity to postal address lists is the proffering of insights on what offers are likely to appeal to individuals on the file. However, many do not share usage on the data card.
One final file characteristic to look for is percentage of the addresses that can view HTML; if this detail is not provided, be sure to ask.
Selects are a critical tool in pulling out the segments of a file that will work best for the prospecting company's offer. The kind of selects made available and the CPM for each varies per list—just as it does for postal address lists.
The most typical selects offered are: age; gender; age/gender of children; SCF (sectional center facility); state; ZIP; household income; credit card buyers; source; hotline (monthly, 3-mo., 6-mo.); title/function; ethnicity; paid status; and run charges.
Some additional charges that marketers may encounter deal with enhancement of the e-mail transmission, such as personalization, HTML creative and additional tracking on click-throughs.
The minimum number of addresses marketers must rent is either 5,000 or 10,000 names. The former or latter count depends on the size of the list.
Occasionally, owners/managers put a cap on the maximum number of addresses a marketer can rent for a test or even a rollout—likely a safeguard that prevents list fatigue and customer backlash against aggressive
A hodge-podge of stipulations and policies can be found in this section, which truly varies according to list owner and manager.
Some common ground is that no one offers net name deals. E-mail lists are fairly young and not as plentiful as postal address lists, so it's not likely the rate of duplication will be high.
Another standard tenet is that all list managers and owners want sample creative to review before the broadcast, which is handled by the manager or its e-mail vendor. No lists are released to the renter.
All rentals are on a one-time basis; marketers should negotiate rollout details as early as possible, to capitalize on good test results. E-mail lists could change frequently, so you want to be ready to rollout as closely on the heels of the test as possible.
The rest of the rental details are particular to each list manager. Some promise delivery of test campaigns in as few as 24 hours, while others request three to five days to process orders.
Still others spell out what your CPM will buy you. Statlistics, for example, notes on the data card for Strategic Research Institute's Email Masterfile that two tests are included in the base rate; retests are charged $50 per piece.
A final tip: Keep your eyes open for special offers. Millard Group recently offered a combo rate special of $200/M for both e-mail addresses and postal addresses on the Rodale Backpacker Magazine E-mail file. This kind of deal allows marketers to test the effectiveness of multi-channel marketing at a reduced cost.