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Posts Tagged ‘quality’

Mailing list quality vs. data card quality — what’s the difference?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It's simple. A data card is the marketing document that describes a mailing list.

A quality data card does not guarantee a quality mailing list, but you can have a top quality list that is neglected from a marketing perspective (i.e. a poor quality data card). First impressions count, and the data card is most often the first impression that a broker or mailer receives when researching new test lists for a direct marketing campaign.

To be blunt – you wouldn't serve a T-bone on a trash can lid, would you?

I'm not sure everyone thinks this way when it comes to data cards. The t-bone steak represents a quality mailing list with an exceptional test-to-continuation ratio. The trash can lid represents a neglected data card for that same mailing list. Think about this analogy from the perspective of a list broker or mailer.

You select a mailing list of active subscribers that matches your customer profile. The mailing list is marketed by a credible list manager with industry knowledge, a proven track record for customer service, and a diverse portfolio of quality response list titles. Futhermore, the mailing list you selected is known for its success in delivering above average response rates and lifetime value. You are ready to add this list title to your client's new test recommendation.

Not so fast! You notice that the data card has not been updated in over 6 months. Furthermore, you are ordering a monthly hotline so you have no idea what range the counts will be in.

Needless to say, you're likely to question the validity of the information. You may wonder if the mailing list is still available for rental, or you may find out that the owner of the data card is no longer the list manager because they lost the business to a competitor and never deactivated their version of the data card. That's obviously not something the former list manager would want to promote in the public domain, but it happens.

What's the take-away in all of this? It's simple. Keep your data cards up-to-date with quality information on all of the list research channels, especially in the public domain where your content is most visible.

A ranking of list managers by data card quality is published quarterly.

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Cisco Systems Comments on Data Cards

Monday, May 11th, 2009

BtoB Magazine published a story today titled "It’s in the cards: Tip-top list data cards are more than just a formality". The story reflected on comments from a leading direct marketers from firms like Cisco Systems, Merkle, and two others. Here's what they had to say about the value of data cards and the importance of data card quality:

"The idea of a data card is really important in that it gives marketers a map of what their data source looks like and, as a result, what they can expect by using that data source,” said Theresa Kushner, director of customer intelligence at Cisco Systems. “That’s essential to a direct marketer.”.

"If a list isn’t represented well on the data card, or it’s not what we thought it is, we’re wasting our time; and I don’t have time to waste,” said Lisa Donnelly, senior director-content strategy with direct marketing agency Merkle Inc. “I need that card to be accurate, concise and make sense when I look at it the first time,” she said.

NextMark publishes the top list managers for data card quality report at the beginning of each quarter. This is just one measure of a list manager's commitment to providing exceptional service. Among many other things to consider are industry experience, secondary market knowledge, multi-channel marketing expertise, list rental forecasting capabilities, list price negotiations, and responsiveness to count requests.

7 Secrets to Scoring High on Data Card Quality

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Good mailing list purchase decisions depend on a good data card database, and NextMark ensures the quality of its data card database through the Data Card Quality Report and other monitoring tools. While it is important not to confuse data card quality with list quality, counts are changing all the time and a neglected data card could be a warning sign of a neglected list. This blog entry is primarily for list managers who are looking for insights on how to keep their data cards up-to-date most efficiently using NextMark's data card publishing tool.

How are data cards scored?

The scoring process is reviewed on a quarterly basis, and subsequently refined to address list specific criteria.  Individual data card scores are calculated using a weighted average of thirteen attributes, Dcqr-samplewith an emphasis on last update (the date when the card was last updated and/or confirmed by the list manager). The basic principle is to create a quality data card from the start, and to manage the update process efficiently. List managers may also contact NextMark to learn how these updates may be processed automatically on their own web site, and integrated on a search engine optimized platform to be indexed by Google and the other search engines.

Seven secrets to scoring high on data card quality:

#1 Review your data card quality report: select either 'Data Card Quality Spreadsheet' or 'Data Card Quality Print View' from the 'CHOOSE A REPORT' menu on the Lists – Management tab. You must be signed in to NextMark under your list management organization to run this report.

#2 Use the 'next update date' field: by populating this field you get the benefit of receiving an e-mail reminder (to update the data card) seven days prior to the date you enter. The next update date must be greater than or equal to the current date in order to receive full credit for last update. If you decide that you do not want to update this field, then be sure to leave it blank and manage your edits based on the update frequency.

#3 Check the update frequency: it is important for list brokers to know how often the names on a mailing list are updated. If the next update date is not populated, then the data card quality score will be based on the update frequency and the last date and time when the data card was updated by the list manager. For example, a data card representing a list that updates monthly should be confirmed every 30 days. However, if the update frequency is semi-annually, then you would only need to update the data card twice per year. Of course, this assumes that there have been no pricing or other changes to the file during the update cycle.

#4 Populate all scored fields for postal list types: make sure that every one of the fields representing the 13 attributes are populated with valid information. There are a few exceptions to this, for example: if a list is available for email addresses only, then you would not be required to select outputs; or if a list is available on exchange only, then you would not be required to enter a base rate.

#5 Audit your list type selections: the scoring process for an insert program is slightly different than it is for a postal mailing list. The same holds true for other types such as blow-in or statement stuffer programs. It is important to make these selections carefully to make sure that your data cards are scored by the most appropriate criteria.

#6 Create a high quality list description:   although there is a minimum character length required for a high quality listDCQ Description description, the scoring process also considers your creative efforts as part of the grade. The html is also credited in a manner similar to the text length of your data card description. Therefore, you are able to focus your efforts on the quality of a list description and not solely its length. You may also create and edit custom tables in the description area to provide counts and/or other information about the list. These tables are also considered as part of the overall data card description score. It is also important to remember to populate the short description field, as you be unable to achieve a perfect grade without that.

#7 Select three relevant categories: you'll need to select at least three categories on the data card that would be relevant to the broker or mailer who is renting the list. Excessive categorization is discouraged because it not only dilutes the uniqueness of a list, but also makes it difficult to determine the target audience for the list. However, you are not required to limit the number of categories, especially in cases where a list or database is enhanced with additional data for targeting specific demographics or psychographics.

The next update of the top list managers by data card quality will be run and published in April for Q1 2009. If you need help with understanding the terms on the data card, then please reference the direct marketing glossary for more information.

Top Ranked List Managers Revealed

Monday, January 12th, 2009

NextMark released its fourth quarter 2008 data card quality report this morning, revealing those list managers who are actively engaged in updating their data cards and those who are not. Among the findings were emerging list managers with expanded data card portfolios in the 500+ data category. DCQ Report

You wouldn't serve a t-bone on a trash can lid, so why would you represent a high quality mailing list with a poor quality data card? While list quality and data card quality are mutually exclusive, counts are changing all the time and a neglected data card could be a warning sign of a neglected list. It is important to keep this information up to date. With 40 percent of direct marketing success is contingent on list selection, mailers and list brokers need quality data cards to make the best purchasing decisions.

List managers may use the free data card publishing wizard to post and update their data cards online. There is also a user-friendly video tutorial (about 20 minutes long) that provides step-by-step instructions for publishing data cards online.