Questions to Ask Your List Broker

What is Included?

Make sure you know what kind of direct marketing list you are purchasing. Does the list include both names and addresses? Are phones included? What about emails? Don’t assume that because you have asked for a mailing list, that phones or emails will be included. Some mailing lists will include phones, but many will not. Mailing lists don’t usually come with email addresses, but a lot of email lists will have mailing addresses. It’s very, very important that you and your list broker are clear on what type of direct marketing list you want to use.

You should also know what ‘selects’ are offered. A select is an element that can be used to further target a direct marketing list, such as geographic areas, job titles, industries, age, marital status, etc. Depending on how the data on the lists is collected will determine which selects are available. Some lists will have countless selects that you can apply to the list to narrow down the target, while other lists won’t be able to offer any.

How are They Sourced?

It’s important to know where the information on the marketing lists comes from. Obviously, you want to know that the information is legitimate and compliant, but did you know that your response rate may vary on how the list sourced? There is a big difference between direct marketing lists sourced from actual purchasing behaviors and lists that are compiled from public records.

Source can be classified as either responsive or compiled. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Response – these are individuals who have freely supplied their contact information. They are usually gathered through sources like magazine subscriptions, catalogs and previous direct marketing responses. These lists are often more expensive than compiled lists as the information is self reported and is often very specific. These lists can be sorted by interests, household income, marital status and other factors.
  • Compiled – are made up of individuals with similar interests, like real estate agents or dog breeders. These lists are compiled using a variety of public sources, including government databases, vehicle registrations, credit card lists, and phone records. These lists tend to be less expensive than response lists as they are easier to keep updated, and the selections available are not nearly as refined. The household or business contacts on these lists can be further sorted by geographic locations, gender, ethnicity, income and age.

Your list broker should be able to guide you as to which list source would work best for your direct marketing campaign.

What is the actual Cost?

Understanding your list cost is crucial. You don’t want to be in a position where you think you know what the list cost is going to be, only to find out it’s not what you were expecting and now you’re over budget. Your ROI depends on Your list broker should either provide you with a data card or a full-on proposal explaining the full cost of you list. If you don’t understand what your list broker provides you with, or if you have any questions ask!! You can’t afford not to know what you are purchasing.

Direct Marketing Lists will usually be priced out as a base price, with additional select and delivery costs.

The base cost of a list is priced out as a per thousand cost, meaning that you are charged a certain amount for every 1,000 contacts you would like to use. The per thousand cost is expressed as “/M”.

Depending on the list, there may be additional fees for adding telephones or emails. It is very important to make sure you are aware of these charges.

The select cost is also listed as a per thousand cost. The more selects you apply to your list, the more targeted your list will be and the better the results. However, it will also add to overall cost of your list.

Processing and delivery charges are flat fee charged by the list owner to have the data formatted and delivered. The costs vary from owner to owner and can range anywhere from $25 – $100.

So, if the base cost of a list is $95/M and you are looking for 5,000 records, your base cost would be $475. If you would like to target homeowners within a certain area and would phones to be included, there would be additional costs. Selecting just homeowners will cost you $10/M, geo will be included and phones will be an additional $30/M. This makes cost $525. Add $50 for processing and delivery and your cost will be $575. Your list broker should be able to explain all the costs involved.

Be aware that many lists have minimum volume requirements. If the number of records you need fall below the list owner’s minimum, you may be charged a supplemental fee. Conversely, many list owners will offer volume discounts if the number of contacts on your list is large.

Lastly, make sure you know what currency the list is being quoted in. There are list owners all over the globe working in different currencies, don’t assume you are being quoted in your country’s currency.

How Current are They?

How old is the list and when was it last updated? Direct marketing lists go bad with age. People or businesses move, contacts leave or switch departments, people pass away, etc. There’s no shortage of circumstances that will affect the contact information in a list. Most list owners will run a standard update every 30 days removing bad entries. This ensure that the data you are using is accurate and deliverable. There’s no point in using a list if the information on it isn’t accurate, so make sure your list is up to date.

Are They Compliant?

Email and telemarketing lists must adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act and National Do Not Call registry, respectively. If you are planning a direct marketing campaign outside of the United States, you need to be sure the list is compliant to the rules and regulations of that country. The onus is on you, the end user to make sure you are in compliance. Being sold a bad list is not a defence and the fines for violating the regulations can be stiff. Ask your list broker to confirm that your list is complaint.

There are a lot of list brokers out there who are only interested in getting your money. They have cheap direct marketing lists that are non-compliant and outdated. Protect yourself from these shady list brokers by asking the right questions. If they can’t or won’t answer your questions, then steer clear of them. A legitimate list broker will have no problem answering any questions that you may have.

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