According to industry experts, three things affect direct mail response: the list, the offer, and creative, respectively. Getting to the right person in the right company is key – otherwise, your direct marketing efforts are a waste of time and money. Follow these power tips for boosting list performance:
- Does the list match our target audience?
- When was the last list update?
- Which companies are using the list more than once?
- Where does the list come from – what is its source?
- Is this list a “bargain” or a “special deal”?
Develop a written profile of your best prospects, including company size, revenue, job titles of decision makers, key industries and more. Also include criteria you want to avoid. Give this profile to list brokers and also conduct research on the Internet. As you evaluate lists, keep asking, “Does this list match our target profile characteristics?
Use this criteria to carefully hone in on the “most likely suspects.” You’ll weed out thousands of irrelevant prospects – saving thousands of dollars in postage and production costs.
Lists get old – fast. For example, the iMarket database from Dun and Bradstreet contains more than 250,000 changes with every quarterly update. Always ask when the list was last updated.
When requesting list information, ask for list users and list continuation users. If there aren’t many continuation users, it could be a sign the list didn’t perform well, so it wasn’t used again. Also check if your competitors or other solid, well-known companies used the list – you’ll have a better chance of getting a quality list.
Make sure you know where the list comes from. Good “response” sources include both paid and unpaid trade magazine subscribers, trade show and seminar attendees, industry associations, and actual “buyer” or customer lists. If purchasing a compiled list, stick with leading national providers such as Dun and Bradstreet and InfoUSA.
With few exceptions, bargain-basement lists advertised via email or fax are usually too good to be true. Especially in the B-to-B market, these lists usually end up costing you far more money than they save. Steer clear of them – and purchase lists from reputable brokers or owners.
Liz Taylor, president of Liz Taylor Marketing, is an expert B-to-B direct marketer specializing in turnkey direct mail services. She can be reached at 813-239-3889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.