Buying Lists What Every Direct Marketer Needs to Know
How to Really Read Data Cards
As you request and review data cards, make certain you understand all the information featured. Ask questions until you get the necessary answers.
What to look for:
• Usage, in other words, which other mailers have mailed the file. If no usage or only limited usage information is featured on the card, call and request it.
• Along with usage and general descriptions, of particular importance is the source of the list, which is frequently described as direct mail. This description is meaningless unless you are familiar with the mail piece, methods or actual approach used to generate the list. Request a copy of the mailing piece, catalog, publication, warranty card, etc., that was used to generate names. If the list was generated from responders to a direct response TV commercial, ask for a videotape of the advertisement and the inbound telemarketing script. Reviewing specifically how questions were asked will give you insight into the quality and value of a list for your particular offer.
• Description, also called Audience Profile or Buyer Profile, is the area of the data card that allows the list owner/manager much flexibility. Be cautious of phrases like "affluent, well educated." Although perhaps based on good marketing insight, unless actual income and education overlays have been appended to the file or this information is selectable, chances are this description is subjective. Business lists that tout their audience as high level purchasing or sales and marketing executives, but have no job title or function selects require more information.
• Hotline dates may tell you when these names became available for rental. But how long did it actually take to get those names to market? A September hotline may actually be comprised of June buyers or subscribers, and it took the list owner three months to process these names. A three-month buyer may have bought six months ago. If that is the case, a hotline select may not be necessary, since it's not that "hot" anyway.