What Are Some Ways to Test Lists So You Can Be More Confident
—Jennifer Honadel, account director, not-for-profit sector, ICOM
"Learn all you can about a list you want to test. Ask for mailing pieces or samples of recent ads that generated the list's names. Find out where the ads appeared, so you get the "flavor" of the list."
—C. Rose Harper, first woman to serve as chairperson of the DMA,
DMA Hall of Fame inductee, former president of The Kleid Co.
"List owners frequently load tests with hotline or multibuyers. The result is a falsely high response on the test, which brings you running back for more names — only to suffer death and destruction on the rollout. What can you do? Forecast lower results on your rollout than your test. Some direct marketers say never step up more than five times (e.g., if you test 5,000 names, don't go back for more than 25,000). I disagree. Know your lists, know your broker, know your list owner and be guided by your experience."
—Paul Goldberg, direct marketing consultant
"Always order an odd number of test names. Most list rentals require a 5,000 or 10,000 minimum. A lot of people will want more than 5,000 names as their test quantity. Order 5,200 or 5,500, and change the number each time you do it. Here's why: There are some list managers and owners who don't run a 5,000-test panel for every order of that type that comes in. They take their subscriber file of 200,000 and, once a quarter, they'll knock out 5,000 names to be used to fulfill tests. So everyone who orders tests in that three-month period gets sent the same 5,000-name list!
You don't want to be part of that because it's being mailed much more than everything else is. You want your own list.
An even worse potential problem with orders of 5,000 can occur when you order something other than standard active subscribers. Let's say you want only people who have renewed or people with a particular job title. If you order a round, even number, they may still give you some names in the plain old select. If they don't do that, they might confuse your order and give you someone else's 5,000-name selection. But if you order an odd number of names, it's much more likely you'll get what you asked for."