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The Data Experience: Part 2 – List Types Defined

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According to Nextmark, an online leader in mailing list information, there are now over 74,000 available mailing lists on the market. This makes finding the right list, much less the right resource to support your mailings, a daunting task. The best way to tackle this number is by lumping lists into four categories.

In Part two of a multi-part series written exclusively for “MP News” readers, Modern Postcard’s List Sales & Data Solutions Manager Dan Anglin will take you through the main types of lists and give you easy guidelines for evaluating opportunities to find the right list, reach the right prospects and get the results you deserve.

Although there are exceptions, you can segment mailing list types into the following four categories:

  • Managed Property Files. These are exclusive properties, usually originating from a single source such as Magazine Subscription Forms, Trade Association Membership Rosters, Tradeshow Exhibitor and Attendee Files, as well as Controlled Circulation Files such as Newspapers and Newsletters.

On average, these types of files tend to have smaller universes, 10,000-50,000 available names in the United States. Pricing for these files can range from 8 to 20 cents per record, only available as a Single-Use License and require minimum orders between 5,000 and 10,000 names. Like most lists, the price per name and minimum order requirements follows a general rule: the more exclusive and detailed the list selection is, the more expensive the list.

Since these files generally have smaller quantities available at the national level, a Managed Property poses a challenge when trying to find prospects in a handful of zip codes around your local area. Keep reading to view a sample program that will illustrate this point.

  • Direct Response Files. These files include addresses of individuals who have purchased, requested topic-specific information, completed a survey, questionnaire – or quite simply responded to a particular offer in the past. Direct Response File sizes can be across the board. Pricing ranges from about 7 cents to approximately 15 cents per record and requires similar minimums to the Managed Files. However, these files sometimes have Multi-Use Licenses available.
  • Donor Files. As the name implies, this category includes individuals or companies that have made a charitable contribution to a cause or effort. List selects can be general, focusing only on those having made ANY kind of donation in the past, or more specific to a cause or effort. Prices start at just 5 cents per name and rarely exceed the 12 cent mark. Minimum counts are typically in the neighborhood of 5,000 names, and depending on the source, Multi-Use Licenses are available from time to time.
  • Compiled Files. These types of files are usually compiled through numerous public sources: voter and deed records, SEC and Business License data for B2B information, state licensing data (except for DMV data on consumers, which has not been available since the late 90s), public directories and many more. Pricing is all over the board with compiled data – as low as maybe 3 cents and as high as 22 cents per name. Again, your price per name will increase as your level of targeting and selection becomes more specific. Multi-Use is almost always available on these files, so if you have a program in mind that calls for mailing to the same demographic weekly, monthly or quarters, a Multi-Use license may cost a bit more on your first order, however there would be no data cost on future programs. Compiled Files will almost always have the largest universe available for a specific demographic or vertical. Simply based on averages and spreads, they’re the best files to use when dealing with a relatively tight, local geographic mailing area. Because these files simply have more addresses, you get the best coverage.

When evaluating the viability of Managed Properties, Direct Response and Donor Files, always compare the number of names available on the national level to the approximate size of your market on the local level. You usually need a sizeable geography, such as an entire state, several states or the entire U.S. as your target geographic area in order for this type of list to make sense for you.

Sample Program: An Interior Designer in San Diego is looking to send a targeted postcard mailer to architects in the same area to establish partnership/referral opportunities.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is a leading trade association, serving licensed architects, allied partners and emerging professionals. It’s safe to assume that if the architect is an AIA member, they’re probably qualified and potentially a good prospect for this interior designer to consider.

The AIA’s member list is available for rental and is currently reporting 47,444 registered architects in the entire U.S. on their file. When you take 47,000 on a national level and look for how many they have in say, San Diego County, California, the designer’s available list count is probably going to be in the low 100 name range if they’re lucky. However, as stated, this file requires a 5,000 name minimum order.

If the designer absolutely had to have that list of 100 AIA Architects in San Diego County, the List Manager would usually quote it out as if it were 5,000 names. After base, select and delivery fees, your total price per name would be around 16 cents which totals $800 when the 5,000 minimum quantity is applied. That’s $8 dollars per name in this case! Unless the client wanted to pay that astronomical rate, their needs may be better served through an alternative source, such as selecting an SIC Code through a B2B compiled file from the likes of InfoUSA or D&B where you can target specific industries.

Now let’s look at using a compiled data source for this client, targeting Architectural Firms in the same county, being San Diego. SIC 8712 gets you into Architectural Firms, which is the 4 digit SIC for this industry. Running that SIC in San Diego County currently provides 533 prospects. Now, obviously only a portion of them are AIA Members, however just because they’re not members does not mean they are not potential prospects for this particular client. Additionally, the list of 533 Architectural Firms from this compiled source would run the designer $125-175 (Modern Postcard’s current price on this list product at that count), which instantly makes this a more viable solution for this particular program.

If you’ve never tried working with Managed, Direct Response & Donor files on your own, be prepared. The order process and protocols require patience. Once you have your desired count and are ready to order, you’ll need to submit your sample mail piece and mail date to the List Owner (LO). The LO will almost always ask for this information to make sure that you’re not offering a competitive product or solution and your mail piece does not include any “undesirable” content. They’ll also want to review your mail date to ensure it’s not the same as 100 other clients already using the data at the same time. The last thing they want is to inundate their members/subscribers with a ton of direct mail on any particular delivery day.

Once you submit your order, sample mail piece and mail date, the LO will typically get back to you within 24-48 business hours. However, in some situations and I have seen it myself, their decision can sometimes take 1 to 2 weeks. You must also keep in mind that the LO reserves the right to deny any order request for any reason. You could have cash in hand for a massive order, but if they do not want to do business with you, they reserve the right to turn you down for any reason they deem appropriate. If you clear all these hurdles with the LO, shipment of the data typically takes 2-5 business days and is only sent to a third party, such as a bonded mail house like Modern Postcard. To maintain security, they will not give the mailer or advertiser (you) direct or visual access to their data.

That said, keep these two things in mind when getting started on your project:

  • Keep the turnaround time in consideration if your mailer is time sensitive. If you need data on a Wednesday and today is Monday, guess what? Not going to happen.
  • Work with a List Broker* who knows these processes inside and out. They usually work with the respective LOs and Managers on a regular basis, giving your last minute project the best chance of swiftly moving through the process. Pricing should also be cost neutral; meaning the price you would see from the List Manager should be consistent with the price from a Broker.

Call: 800-959-8365

Read Other Installments of the Article Series:
The Data Experience, Part 1: List Companies Defined
The Data Experience: Part 3 – Automated List Selection


*As a blatant plug, Modern Postcard’s List & Data Solutions Team has full service List Brokerage capabilities. Providing you access to nearly any commercially available mailing list on the planet, our relationships with every major data provider gives you a consolidated resource for your direct mail initiatives. If you are looking to grow your business with direct mail, our team of dedicated Direct Mail Specialists has over 80 YEARS of combined direct mail advertising experience. Modern Postcard also offers list rental on a stand-alone basis, so if you just need data and nothing else, we have products and solutions available to support your requests.

Give us the opportunity to leverage our experience on behalf of your next acquisition campaign, and I assure you that you won’t be disappointed!