Lists in the New World
Should you test both, de-dupe them and will one of them yield you a bigger continuation universe, and therefore maybe you'll move to the second one and forget about the first one? But you have to run parallel at some point, and the list owner or manager has to be equipped to do that for its mailers.
TM: With marketers testing into new media recently, how valuable is the source of the list?
Kurtz: Source is one of the most important things to find out about a list when doing your research. Especially if a source has changed. Is it 80-percent direct mail this month, 80-percent space ads the next month, and then 80-percent DRTV the month after that?
[Source has] always been critical, and I don't know how you can say it's more critical … but in this environment, when people are looking for magic bullets and quick answers, it is more important than ever to ask about source make-up on a regular basis. It can change in a heartbeat.
I will say that the lists that have been getting their lion's share of names through direct mail are not flipping over to e-mail and telephone, and all of a sudden that's the lion's share.
If [Boardroom's] list goes from 5-percent telemarketing to 15-percent telemarketing, that could make a difference on a particular hotline, in terms of breakeven. But it could go the other way, and be more responsive.
The one thing I do see is that mail is still the medium of choice for critical mass and developing critical mass.
TM: Are there other factors affecting response rates, and thus list size?
Kurtz: The only thing that scares me about this particular cycle is how much postage has increased multiple times.
I would say the things that are getting in the way of recovery this time are major disruptions. There's always something in the news. Then you throw in the Internet as the ultimate distraction. Not totally bad, but bad as far as attention span for direct mail is concerned. I think that the Internet is just this other place that people are going. How much less time are they spending with their pile of postal mail, when they have their e-mail to check as well? There's still the same amount of time in each day, last time I checked.