List Buying Guide: List Challenges and Solutions in 2004
Experts encourage marketers to broaden their list horizons.
The constant in the direct marketing world is the need to hunt for viable sources of prospecting names. In the early days of this industry, the variety of lists now on the market didn’t exist; list professionals and their clients would have to talk companies—sometimes competitors—into renting or exchanging names.
As the number of lists on the market grew, it became a great deal easier for marketers to find quality lists for their offers. Now, average response rates suggest that marketers have tapped out every possible list source.
According to a number of top executives at major list companies, smaller universes and no new lists are certainly today’s realities. But, they point out, savvy direct marketers are achieving response rates in the double digits on prospecting campaigns. How are they doing it? By rethinking the way they approach list research to find pockets of opportunity in files they already use and in types of lists they’ve never considered before.
In addition to coping with fewer names, let’s look at three other list challenges facing direct marketers, and get some advice from the pros on how to overcome these obstacles.
Challenge No. 1: Lack of new lists, smaller universes
Solution: Compiled lists, masterfiles and enhanced databases; better use of selects on all file types
While it’s true that hotline files are beginning to grow again—a sign that customer files also are starting to build up—response list sizes still aren’t what they used to be.
And, says Pam Mulligan, vice president of list management at MKTG Services, the few new response lists put on the market in recent months are not making up for overall list shrinkage.
The key to overcoming this challenge, says Linda Huntoon, executive vice president of Direct Media Inc., “lies in marketers’ and list firms’ willingness to change and adapt to the current environment.”