In light of the current economy and the need to mail smarter, here are three things every direct marketer can do to maximize the value from their list rentals and their time.
1) Leverage empirical knowledge and effective negotiation skills.
This sounds much better than saying "hire a good list broker", but that is the recommendation. Experienced brokers know which lists work and which ones don't. Many have relationships with original list compilers so they can buy directly from the source and extend discounts based on economies of scale. Savvy brokers also understand analytics, so they can back up their recommendations with quantitative information and explain the meaning behind the metrics.
2) Leverage analytics to work for you.
Technology has powered the science of analysis with meaningful statistics on virtually every list on the market today. For example, the test-to-continuation ratio provides an aggregate measure of mailer success renting the same list. If a high percentage of mailers are placing continuation orders, then something about the list is working for them.
Another good reference point is the list popularity index (LPI). The LPI is based on how recently and frequently a list is included in list brokers' recommendations to their clients. This is a great tool for comparing mailing lists that have been on the market for a while, but should not be used exclusively to rule out titles that are new to market or have recently changed managers.
Ask to review a list profile. Comprehensive list profiles are available because a data bridge now connects data cards with the underlying data at the owner service bureau. You get a visualization of frequency distributions for all selectable dimensions including demographics, psychographics, interests, and purchase behavior.
3) Optimize list selection value.
Many selections have significant overlap, and choosing them together will only result in higher costs. A good list broker can optimize your selection criteria based on the resulting data set. They serve your best interests and do not typically receive commissions on selection revenue.
Getting the most 'bang for your buck' on lists can be myopic if you rule out options that can significantly help to grow your business. Choosing only those lists with the highest return on investment (ROI) and response rates can narrow your market reach, so consider your primary objectives before defining your acceptance criteria.
There's plenty of empty space in the mail box, and the best time to avoid the clutter is now!