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A buyer’s guide to data lists

Our Buyer’s Guide to data lists helps you understand how list suppliers work. It gives a guide to pricing while advising how you can ensure you’re getting a genuine mailing list from a reliable source.

Direct marketing requires a targeted and highly accurate data list to ensure a successful marketing campaign. Unlike traditional advertising, direct marketing offers an effective method to reach a targeted audience based on specific criteria chosen by you.

Marketing should be viewed as a long-term, strategic approach to new customer acquisition and retention. It is your responsibility to manage the client relationships to maximise the full potential of each customer.

The success of marketing campaigns depends on the quality of database in addition to the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. A campaign’s success should never be measured solely on initial response. You should also consider the lifetime value of each customer and your client retention.

There are three types of data list sellers in the UK:

  • Data List brokers are usually independent companies, not restricted to selling data lists from any specific data list owner. Generally speaking, they have a good understanding of data lists. But they are simply re-sellers and have no control over the accuracy or cleansing of the data they hold.
  • Data List managers represent lists owned by mail-order companies, publishers and other third party businesses looking to monetise their own customer data. They are limited to selling the data lists they manage. Furthermore they rarely offer data lists that cover mass markets, wide areas etc.
  • Data List owners such as Impact Marketing Europe are the source of data. They are the companies responsible for the compiling, updating and managing of databases to ensure that they are correctly prepared for a client’s marketing campaign.

Responsive Data Lists vs. Compiled Data Lists

  • Data list brokers rent their databases from data list owners. Some owners, such as Impact Marketing Europe, manage huge databases for tens of millions of consumers and businesses. These “Compiled List” databases are populated with information collected from various sources such as government registers, directories, credit bureaus etc.
  • Other data lists are more targeted, containing detailed information from people who have either enquired about a particular product or service, or have permitted companies to contact them. These are ‘Response Lists’.
  • Data list suppliers cannot guarantee how responsive a mailing list will be, as there are multiple variables that influence a response rate. However the “typical deliverability” (the percentage of mailers that reach their intended recipient) should be quoted/guaranteed before purchase.
  • As a data list owner, we verify our databases to remove any inaccurate records and to add and update information. The typical industry accuracy rate is around 92% and data list suppliers should always offer a guarantee to replace any “goneaways” over and above 8%. However we guarantee 100% of our data and will offer to replace any returns that you receive from your marketing campaign. We quote a typical “goneaway” rate of 3-5%.

Selecting the right data for your marketing campaign is a key step towards its success. Credible list suppliers are able to tailor a list based on the specific product or service(s) you offer and the target audience you aim to reach. As a result your campaign will receive a much better response.

There are 2 distinct methods of targeting data;

  • Profiled Data Lists – Profiled data is a method of identifying consumer data based on their geographical and social profiles. Many companies have sophisticated software programs to identify and categorise households based on their demographic wealth, life stage and household composition. Profiles for each household are established through results gathered from the UK Census as well as other contributory factors.
  • Lifestyle Data Lists – Lifestyle data is based on facts and is compiled from; direct response, behavior, financial & retail transactions, share registers, directorship registers, research, consumer surveys, credit history and many more. However the factual, targeted elements of this data are more costly to achieve. Therefore the price of true Lifestyle Data is higher than Profiled Data. As a result, Lifestyle data can achieve a much higher return on investment.

It is imperative that you establish whether the data list supplier(s) you are talking to are offering profiled data or true lifestyle data. Always establish prices for the different data sets.

A supplier specialising in highly targeted Lifestyle Data will not be able to compete against a supplier selling profiled data due to difference in price. It’s not uncommon for some data companies to sell data without specifying whether it is profiled or a lifestyle data list. As a result, the customer gets something less responsive than they expected.

List Seeding

  • Data List owners plant seeds within their data lists and use an independent 3rd party to track how many times an advertiser uses the database. If the list is used beyond the terms of the licence agreement, the seeding company will notify the list owner. They may then seek compensation.
  • Mailing lists remain the property of the list owners. Typically, you will agree a rental period with the seller. This is usually a single use licence or a 12-month multiple use licence.

Choosing a Data List Company

We advise that you do your homework on all of your potential suppliers prior to committing. Procuring a data list is often a substantial and very important purchase. There are many data list sellers in the market selling substandard, old, inaccurate and even sometimes even illegal lists. Unfortunately buyers usually find this out the hard way.

There’s no way of telling how clean a data list is until you use it. Always base your purchasing decisions on the reputation and accreditation of the seller. A few questions you might want to consider finding the answer to before purchasing include:

  • How long has the company been trading?
  • Have they recently changed company name?
  • Do they have any CCJs or winding up orders against them?
  • Is their registered address a real commercial property?
  • Are they members of the Direct Marketing Association?
  • Is the database theirs or are they resellers?
  • What guarantees do they offer (if any)?
  • Can you speak to/contact a real client that’s willing to give a testimonial?

Data List Pricing

In the majority of cases, compiled data lists are charged by a cost per thousand (CPM) basis. However, additional selections that enhance the data list will incur more fees.

  • Lifestyle, Behavioural and Researched data lists charge premium prices. This is usually in excess of £150 per thousand for base rental, plus selection fees.
  • For quality e-mail lists, the typical minimum order size is 5,000 records. The average cost for e-mail lists is a CPM of £150-£250 and this usually includes the broadcast fee. Managed campaigns usually have a set-up fee of roughly £100.

An output/administration fee usually applies to each data list order; we charge a flat fee of £40. This is for the selection, extraction and production of your data list in your preferred format.

Data list success rates

It is impossible to quote a standard response rate as every campaign has a unique set of variables and merits. A direct mail list of 5,000 names selling a retail product may see a return of 1% – 3%. Whilst this may sound low, it is considered a solid performance. Email rates are considerably lower however. You should understand that there are no guarantees about the amount of business you can generate.

Top Tips for Buying Data Lists

  • Beware of false bargains. Certain data lists may be cheap to buy, but may cost your company more in the long run. This is due to poor response rates as well as wasted time and money. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
  • Run sample mailings. Send samples to different subsets of the data list and analyse the response. Then send the most effective version to the rest of the data list. The right creative content and strategy plays a big part in the success of your marketing campaign.
  • Don’t be seedy! Only use the list in accordance with the licence agreement in place.
  • Whiter than white. You must ensure that all records are opt-in for 3rd party marketing in accordance with current policy. Check that your email broadcasting platform is white-listed. You will achieve a better return on investment when more emails land in the inbox, rather than the spam box.

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