Five Questions to Ask When Testing a List
In looking ahead at your marketing plans for 2007, you may be considering testing prospect lists. Here are five questions you’ll want to answer when shopping for list rentals:
1. How actively is the list owner prospecting for new customers? “If the zero-to-six-month file size is greater than 50 percent of its total 12-month file size, the owner is actively prospecting and adding new names to its file,” says Stephen R. Lett, president of catalog consultancy Lett Direct and author of the recently released book “Strategic Catalog Marketing” (Target Marketing Group Publications, 2006). Lett calls the 50 percent-plus rule a top consideration when selecting lists to test, because it denotes that the list includes fresh names of active direct mail buyers.
2. Is the file well maintained? That is, does the list owner regularly run the file through list hygiene programs?
3. What selections are available? Can you, Lett asks, select names based on recency, frequency or monetary value? And can you select based on customer demographics and types of merchandise purchased? He cautions that you should pay only for selects that you truly need.
4. Who else is using the list? Knowing this will help give you an idea of how the list works for other mailers in your market, says Lett. Be sure your broker tells you only the names of other companies like yours that are using the list on a continuing basis. That is, if you’re a cataloger, you want to know only if other catalogers are using it and if those catalogers sell products similar to yours. And you want to know who is using the file regularly, not who has tested it once or twice.
5. How did the list net out in the merge? If the list is from a mailer that sells the same type of products as you do, the higher percentage of duplicate names (on your list and the mailer’s), the greater chance the list will work for your offer, says Lett. “That’s because there are more people on the [mailer’s] list who are like your customers.”