28 List Managers Score Perfectly in NextMark’s January 2015 Data Card Quality Report

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

NextMark today announced its January 2015 Quarterly Data Card Quality Report. Of the 176 list management companies covered by this report, 28 scored a perfect 100 for their data card portfolio.

The companies with perfect quality scores include ALC, Ameliorate Data Solutions, Inc., B2B, Complete Mailing Lists, Complete Medical Lists, DATALINE, Direct Market, LLC, Dunhill International List Co.,, Exact Data, Fresco Data, Great Lakes List Management, Healy List Marketing, Integrated Business Svcs, Lighthouse List Co., List Connection Inc., List Service Direct, Inc.,, Media Source Solutions, Inc., Midwest Trading Post, Paramount Lists, Inc., Political Fundraising Lists, Profile America List Company, Inc., Sprint Data Solutions, LLC, Take 5 Solutions, The List Experts, The Standard Information Company, and WS PONTON.

The complete data card quality report can be found on NextMark’s website at:

Data cards are the primary documents used in circulation planning and purchasing decisions. Publishing a high quality data card maximizes the likelihood of being selected for inclusion in direct marketing campaigns.

NextMark rates the quality data cards by electronically analyzing more than 100,000 data cards in its directory. For each data card, a proprietary algorithm first rates the quality of 13 key attributes. Then, the score (0-100) for the data card is calculated using a weighted average of the 13 attributes. The list management company’s quality score is the average score of all data cards in their portfolio. List managers can access the details of the calculation and suggestions for improvement through NextMark’s free data card publishing tool (a.k.a. the “Data Card Wizard”).

The Truth About Data Card Quality

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Last week, NextMark released its first data card quality report for the 2012 calendar year. This report continues to spark intense debate on the subject of data card quality, so let’s talk about it. Your comments would be much appreciated as we plan to refine the program for digital media publishers and planners.

Here’s how it all began…

When NextMark first launched its self-service data card publishing wizard at the turn of the new millennium, the new interface was met with mixed emotions. Some media managers and list owners were excited to finally have control over their promotional content, but others were not looking forward to the extra work. This created some gaps in regards to the attention that data cards received, subsequently creating issues for researchers who rely on data cards for purchase decisions and campaign planning.

To further encourage media managers to update their data cards and improve their content for researchers and campaign managers, NextMark introduced a new service on October 15, 2000 to integrate data cards on managers’ web sites. This created an even greater sense of ownership and brand awareness, but it was still not enough to address the issues of missing contact information, out-of-date counts, and other deficiencies.

On May 13, 2003, NextMark introduced its first data card quality report by electronically analyzing over 30,000 data cards (currently over 70,000). For each data card, a proprietary algorithm rates the quality of 13 key attributes. The primary objective of this initiative was to make sure that data cards were complete and accurate, and there was a little improvement.

On February 21, 2008, the data card quality report went public with a ranking of the top 50 managers. This resulted in a vanity check for companies that did not make the list, so a refined version was released on June 23, 2008 to categorize the top managers by number of data cards in their respective portfolios.

As word got out, some good things started to happen. Data card publishers began to pay close attention to the scores and the rankings, and many began to institute best practices for timely updates and list content management. Scores have been improving ever since, but something else also started to happen.

Data card quality rankings became a promotional opportunity for media managers and the scores were often taken out of context. The scoring algorithm, intended to measure completeness and update recency, grew in perception as a holistic measure for media management firms. Although unintended, this created some confusion.

To keep it simple, here’s the 3 point truth about data card quality.

Point 1:  data card quality is independent of list quality.

Point 2:  data card quality measures completeness and update recency.

Point 3:  data card quality does not measure content quality or accuracy.

You should not judge a media manager on data card quality alone, and there are more important factors to consider. For example, take a look at the following catalog list rate card and you will notice that it has a high ‘popularity index‘ in addition to a quality presentation of the media (postal list in this case) it represents. The counts are current through the end of the most recent month, the monthly and quarterly hotlines are provided, and the average age and income is provided for the audience. It is important to also be aware of the fact that some media managers may confirm an update without actually changing the counts. We are on to them and will flagging that accordingly to make sure our research users are aware of the difference.

A Strong Case for Direct Mail

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

By Jim DiProspero, Vice President
Specialists Marketing Services, Inc.

With limited budgets of both time and money, where can I get the most bang for my advertising buck? Business owners continue to ask this question with an increasing volume of choices powered by the proliferation of social media sites and digital advertising opportunities.

Any company seeking new business today has a wide variety of media choices, from print, radio/TV, web sites and social media. Continuing research has shown that one of the most cost effective forms of getting new business is through good, consistent, targeted direct mail. Targeted direct mail lists have several advantages that make them unique. If you know your best customers, then you can use targeted direct mail to reach more of them and generate qualified new business leads. This applies to traditional brick and mortar stores, professionals, or even start up web sites.

Direct mail has the advantage of being perceived as the least intrusive and therefore the most welcome type of advertising. Several studies over the years confirm that most people prefer direct mail to other types of advertising. A recent article, “The Future is Now” in the industry magazine Deliver makes a strong case in support of this. Furthermore, there is less competition in the mail box (due to increasing diversification of marketing budgets online), and this may often lift response.

Unlike an e-mail or SMS text message which can be deleted by the push of a button there seems to be something about a direct mail piece, be it a postcard or a letter that conveys legitimacy on the part of the mailer and encourages the recipient to keep it.

There are a few tried and true techniques that should be employed, or at least tested, on your direct mail campaign

  1. Have a clear call to action. Give your direct mail recipients a compelling reason to contact you.
  2. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Give them something such as a discount or a two for one offer — something to entice them to try your product or service.
  3. Include an expiration date on the offer.

Probably the most important advantage of direct mail is the ability to precisely target audiences better then other forms of advertising. This is due to the lists and data that power its distribution to the right audience. No other channel (online or offline) has the wealth of acquisition data to drive lifetime value (LTV). Although many online advertising sources are real-time, they are often lacking in regards to the big picture of a customer’s purchase (or giving in the case of non-profits) behavior over time.

You may have the most relevant message, and your printing and graphics may be the best money can buy, but the single most important element in the success or failure of your marketing efforts is your selection of the most targeted and appropriate mailing list.

Targeting of your most concise audience is paramount. It many cases it is not enough to target by demographics like age and income you need to target by affinity or interest.

In response to the splintering of the homogenous mass market of yesterday, list marketers have been working at identifying the moving targets and shifting trends of the market place. There are literally hundreds of different lists available to target just about any niche market or affinity group you can think of.

Specialists Marketing Services recently launched a new mailing lists search portal for its Direct Data Division that provides visitors with easy access to rate cards and information about specialty lists and data.

Here you can find an audience for just about any product or service. Keep in mind, you want to reach as many qualified prospects as you can without wasting your message on those who are not interested or can’t purchase your product — targeted direct mail does just that.

If offline marketing with direct mail is not part of your overall mix, then you may be sacrificing LTV at the expense of impressions and clicks. An integrated approach is best.

NextMark Release Paves Way for Digital Media Planning Apps

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Tonight, we will update the NextMark system to version 7.12.  I wanted to highlight a couple of themes related to the improvements included in this release.

First, if you have been following recent NextMark posts, you know we are working on building a database of digital advertising programs along with new apps to improve the digital media planning process.  With the 7.12 release, we are introducing the foundation to enable us to offer multiple applications within a single framework.  While is doesn’t look like much, we’ve added a stripe (see image below) across the top of the application that will eventually be an application switcher.  For now, NextMark users will see an app called Direct Marketing System—which is the name for the current set of capabilities offered under the NextMark brand.

NextMark Application with Stripe

So, what new apps are in the works?  The Digital Media Planner will significantly reduce the amount of time required to create high-quality media plans.  It will also provide access to a growing database of detailed digital advertising programs.  We are also working on Media Magnet, a tool to connect buyers to the digital advertising programs that best match their campaign objectives.

With every release, we aim to increase system stability and usability and 7.12 is no exception.  We’ve addressed more than 20 issues reported by our user community.

One of our ongoing goals at Nextmark is to drive down the transaction costs associated with buying and selling direct mail lists and other marketing programs.  In 7.12, we streamlined some of the key functions related to the Direct Marketing Exchange (DMAX)—a system that provides the ability for trading partners to electronically transmit mailing list orders using a standard protocol.  For more information about DMAX and how organizations can use it to reduce cost and increase business, refer to this post.

For more detail, check out the 7.12 release notes.

Widgets for Mailing Lists?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

While renting response lists for a direct marketing campaign may be a complicated process, the acquisition process for compiled lists is pretty simple nowadays. Companies like LeadsPlease have actually automated and ‘widgetized’ the mailing list selection and purchase process online. Tools like this are great for local businesses looking to target specific zip codes with a saturation mailing. There’s no need to over-complicate that process, since the data is compiled and, unlike with response data, there are minimal requirements for list owner approval.

If you are a list or data compiler and would like assistance with this kind of integration, let us know and we’ll work with you to get connected.

The DataWidget

The DataWidget

NextMark Release Improves Usability

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

This evening, we will update the NextMark system to version 7.11.  The release is packed with changes aimed at making the system easier to use and more reliable than ever.

The most significant change you’ll see relates to the new Data Card Wizard that not only makes it easier for users to add and edit data cards but also enables a new type of data card format for advertising programs.  The data card format is determined by the Media Type, which is chosen on the first panel of the Wizard (see example below).

As you’ll soon see, it is now easier to navigate to specific section of existing data cards and make changes quickly.

Another new feature that reduces the amount of time you’ll spend updating data cards is batch update of key dates.  Now, from a search results page, the ‘valid as of’ and ‘last update’ dates can be updated and applied to one or more records displayed on the page.

So, log in and check it out and for a complete list of changes in 7.11, refer to the release notes.

Creating Media and List Recommendations

Friday, August 19th, 2011

When it comes to creating quality media and list recommendations, it helps to have some context for your proposal. Every good media and list recommendation includes the following attributes:  format, content, and insight.

It can be helpful to take a step back and think about how your campaign management tools can help you in the process. For example, the ‘Generate Proposal’ feature in NextMark’s media planning tool can be used as a guide in the preparation of client recommendations. Take a look at the snapshot below for an audience of prospective gardening enthusiasts:

List Recommedation

The format (Excel, PDF, or RTF) allows the creator of the recommendation to determine the level of interaction the end user may have. For example, while a PDF (Portable Document Format) may be appealing, it does not allow for easy editing and customization of the final output. However, a spreadsheet (Excel) workbook can be customized, edited, enhanced, and even integrated with other Microsoft Office programs like PowerPoint. It provides a lot of flexibility, not only for viewing but also for analysis.

And of course, there is also the RTF (Rich Text Format) which is easily read by Microsoft Word. While this may be a common format among traditional direct marketers, it provides fewer benefits due to the limitations of word processing applications. The content of data cards varies due to the depth and breadth of each media program or mailing list. This creates issues related to pagination and alignment that can be more easily resolved with alternative output formats.

The content options enable the creator to generate media and list recommendations that are relevant, while excluding information that may be considered proprietary from a media brokerage perspective. For example, a recommendation made by a list broker for a catalog marketing client may include additional segements, selects, and profile information for discussion purposes related to refinement and targeting. However, the manager information may be suppressed intentionally to keep focused on the value that the media broker brings to the campaign management process.

Additional insight may be applied as well. With access to the mailer usage database, media brokers can also leverage the experiences of others and help speed up the decision-making process. It’s a great way to uncover new media to test based on what has worked for others. It is often the not-so-obvious recommendations that outperform the market average for response and lifetime value (LTV).

Keep these three things in mind as a guide for media and list recommendations, but don’t feel like you need to change your personal style. What’s most important is what sets you apart as a trusted advisor for your clients.

Hope this was helpful…


List Industry White Paper

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

While mailing lists are the lifeblood of direct mail marketing campaigns, the data acquisition process is outmoded. Therefore, NextMark commissioned research to better understand the core issues related to list acquisition and list fulfillment. The Evolution of List Fulfillment is the first whitepaper of its kind, leveraging the combined experience of seasoned direct marketing professionals (list brokerage and management executives), with technological expertise (NextMark) and qualified third-party editorial (Ray Schultz).

Click here to download your free copy of this list industry white paper.

Special thanks to all who contributed to this research product including:

Ray Schultz, President, TellAllMarketing

Lenny Medico, Senior Vice President of List Management, Lake Group Media

Ben Perez, former CEO of Millard Group

Fran Green, President of SMART Data Solutions, ALC

Pete Carney, CEO, Carney Direct Marketing

Geoff Batrouney, Executive Vice President, Estee Marketing Group

David Schwartz, President, Executive Confidential Organizational Consultants

Mary Jo Yafchak, Vice President of Product Management, Acxiom

Don Hinman, Senior Vice President, Epsilon Targeting

Mark Zilling, Senior Vice President, MeritDirect

Charles Morgan, former CEO, Demographics, Inc.

Tom Berger, CEO, Cross Country Computer

Mitch Rubin, CEO, Applied Information Group

David Kanter, President, AccuList USA

Eric Smith, CEO, ListFusion/DataTree

John Papalia, CEO, Statlistics

Carolyn Woodruff, Senior Broker

James Johnson, Advisor, International Direct Response

Lon Mandel, CEO, Specialists Marketing Services

Robert Sher, Principal, RK Sher & Associates

Marlies Duke, Vice President, 4Cite Marketing, LLC

MagnaGlobal predicts digital advertising to grow 18.7% in 2011

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

MagnaGlobal logoAccording to MagnaGlobal‘s “US Media Advertising Revenue Forecast” (as reported by DM news), “Revenue from awareness-driven mass media advertising will grow 10.8% in 2011. Revenue from national digital advertising will grow 18.7% in 2011, driven by strong growth in display, online video and mobile budgets, according to the firm.”

The growth picture for direct media is not so bright:

“Direct media, which the firm defined as Internet Yellow Pages, paid search, lead generation, print directories and direct mail, will perform more poorly than mass media for a second consecutive year. However, direct media advertising revenue will ultimately grow at a greater pace than mass media advertising revenue in the long term, the firm said. Direct media advertising revenue will grow 3.9% by 2016, compared with the 3.7% growth in mass media advertising revenue in that time.”

Direct mail, once again surprises the analysts because it bucks the trend of other traditional media and continues to grow: “Direct mail did a lot better than we thought,” said Feldman. “It will grow each year within the next five years. But compared to electronic media, direct mail and directories are at a disadvantage.”

Looking for mailing lists? (start here)

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

There’s big demand for postal mailing lists lately.  Despite its traditional nature, postal is still one of the most powerful channels for driving both offline and online traffic (and sales!).

The key to driving quality traffic through postal is using a quality mailing list. In fact, experts agree that your choice of mailing lists is the single most important factor in driving your results.

There are more than 60,000 mailing lists available. Without the right tool, it’s unlikely you’ll find your ideal lists.  Fortunately, NextMark provides a Mailing List Finder tool.  It’s easy to use. And, best of all, it’s free.

Here’s a short video.  It’s out of date (we’ve since redesigned the site), but it gives you a good idea of the service.

Start using the mailing list finder today at