Compiled Lists - Take a Second Look (968 words)
It's Time to Take a Second Look
Compiled files have long been the stepchild of the list universe—often passed over in favor of transaction-based response lists.
While these massive databases are not desirable for every marketer, the breadth and depth of information they contain are vital to many high-volume mailers, and may be worth a second look by other mailers faced with declining list universes.
Compiled files have evolved from their "phone book" predecessors. Today, there are few pure compiled lists, says David Schneider, vice president of sales, Knowledgebase Marketing. The sources still are records compiled into one file, but most now are "overlaid with response data that allow mailers to look at behavior in ways never before possible."
For example, infoUSA, one of the largest data compilers, adds self-reported data gleaned via Internet surveys to its database. These data are incorporated with other sources to determine hobbies, interests, lifestyle, ailments, investments, Internet and mail-order purchasing behavior, etc.
For whom do compiled files make sense? "Mailers that want to reach such an expansive universe that the cost and time it would take to build enough volume from response lists isn't feasible or economical," observes Schneider. He points out some of the biggest users of compiled files are financial services, insurance and telecommunications providers that market to a broad audience and need the saturation and volume of names these files offer.
Robert Dunhill, president of list compiler Dunhill International, suggests mature or well-established mail-order businesses also may benefit from compiled files by using them as a supplement to response lists to get more comprehensive coverage of their target markets. What's more, compiled data are much more affordable than response data because they aren't as specific.
There are, however, mailers that exclusively use compiled files to generate leads rather than sales. Schneider explains that retailers often will use compiled lists to mail traffic-building promotions because they can get high penetration inside a tight geographic area. An example would be a plus-size women's clothing store mailing a store coupon to women who live within a two-mile radius of the store and wear a size 16 or larger.