Expert Articles

Industry leaders share their thoughts

Practical suggestions on how you can get better marketing results.

High-Definition Data

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Considering both the media scrutiny-as well as the political outcry-over data-collection processes employed by a number of high-profile U.S. companies, one might assume that when it comes to customer knowledge, American business knows it all. The sheer volume of data collected is massive; the number and variety of sources from which consumer information is gleaned-from credit applications and transactional histories to self-reported surveys and website registrations-appears to be endless. And did we mention the astonishing abundance of readily available public information?

So why, in this era of high-definition digital possibilities are a surprising number of otherwise sophisticated marketers still viewing their customer information in black & white? (more…)

Delivery and Relevancy Advice From a List Firm

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

MeritDirect in July hosted its 7th Annual Business Mailer’s Co-op and Interactive Marketing Conference. When asked to moderate a panel, I decided that I wanted to stay away from the “Introduction to Email Marketing” subject and focus on “Topics and Trends in Email Marketing Today.”


Choosing an Email List Manager & Broker

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Evaluating email vendors and finding the right partners require careful due diligence. When seeking an email list manager or broker, keep compliance top of mind. Ensure that your email list partner is an active voice in the direct and interactive community, legislative and otherwise. (more…)

Buying Data with Ease: Is it Possible?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

If only we had an easy way to buy the list we need quickly and painlessly. Online count and order systems make that wish a reality. List companies are putting their lists online so marketers can access what they need, when they need it. And though some companies have done this since the mid-1990s, most are just popping up now. What do you look for in an online provider? (more…)

The Art and Science of List Negotiations

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Brokers and managers traditionally have provided many services for their clients, and few are as important as the list negotiations that are prevalent today. Fortunately, in the years that I have been a broker, the process has become a little more scientific — but the art remains an important component.

Years ago, when names were supplied on Cheshire labels, negotiations were volume based. If the client rented many names (sometimes many hundreds of thousands when those universes existed), the diligent broker asked for a reduced cost, something like a “baker’s dozen”: 13 for the price of 12. The diligent and honest broker passed that savings onto the mailer.

Of course, merge/purge was a boon to mailers, and net name negotiations were a result. It soon became possible to produce reports that actually documented the process. Not only did we learn how many names were duplicated among the lists being merged, we also saw what names failed to reach other standards of deliverability.

It wasn’t long before the Direct Mail Marketing Association — now the DMA — began to collect do-not-mail names and make them available to service bureaus for suppression. As the computer developed, so did our industry, and the art of negotiating moved a little toward science. (more…)

Mailing Lists in Politics: How to Reach Your Voters

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

With national elections just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to see how many political mailing lists are available. Answer: a lot. There are thousands of mailing lists for republicans, democrats, and other political affiliations. Here are some of the mailing lists I found. (more…)

List Marketing 101

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

A direct marketing strategy includes several elements. Missing any of them affects the quality of the entire program and greatly reduces your chance for success. These elements include:

  • Understanding your target customer.
  • Establishing a brand image that differentiates your business from the competition.
  • Having the right offer, at the right price, at the right time for your customer.
  • Effective list and promotion planning.

When list marketing became a viable business strategy more than 25 years ago, list selection was relatively simple because the variety of lists and the number of selections were limited by today’s standards. A list professional often had to persuade a company to put its names on the market, either for rental or exchange. Now, this income has evolved into a significant bottom-line item.

Competition has grown stronger, the number of new lists has declined and many lists are smaller in size. All of this makes negotiations tougher, and many mailers find that they have to broaden their horizons to open new areas of opportunity. The need to integrate all their marketing across each channel — direct mail, Internet, insert media, radio, etc. — also has become more evident. (more…)

Mailing Lists: Purchase or Rent?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Many lists have an option of purchasing for endless use or renting for one-time use. There are pros and cons to each. Here are the primary ones to consider:

  • You don’t own a rented list.
  • You didn’t produce it.
  • You can’t use it over and over without paying over and over.
  • You are dependent on a third party’s external sources for the accuracy of the information within the list.
  • Information is limited unless you purchase more add-on components to the list. Additional information may not be available. (more…)

Lists: Black Boxes or Known Quantities?

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I want to talk about logic. The list rental world for multi-channel direct merchants is experiencing pressure for a profound change in logic and I’m not at all sure it is logical. First, let’s define our terms.

Co-Op Databases. There are two types of co-op databases: 1) list-specific co-op databases; and 2) membership co-op databases. (more…)