Friday, November 30, 2007

Renting or Buying Lists

Many marketers peg acquisition-based email response rates at historically low levels, primarily due to the high volume of messages in everyone's inboxes these days. Some believe that allocating any percentage of a marketing budget to acquisition-based email is waste. However, this is not true. Although the true response rates for acquisition are typically lower than those for retention-based email, renting lists to win over prospects and grow a customer base can work wonders, if you do your homework.

Here are some guidelines that can help in buying or renting lists for achieving high ROI.

.. With email, just like direct mail, how precisely the list is targeted to the marketer’s offer is critical to the success of the email campaign. The marketer will need to test a variety of email lists in order to find the most responsive names for their offer. Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value are important within email lists. Thus, where applicable, focus on lists of recent online buyers or registered users. .. More importantly, when researching email lists, focus on the origin of the list to ensure compatibility with your offer. Make sure you obtain names from branded, well-recognized sites or sources. Since an outbound email announces to the recipient, in the form of a header, exactly where they gave permission, a well-recognized source would lend more credibility to the message.

A frequency cap can ensure lists aren't over mailed. If a list manager can't provide the details on mailing frequency, look elsewhere. That organization probably lacks the control, technical expertise, and reporting basics. Also ask about recency selections. Newer names offer access to new subscribers. Frequent uploads of new names and instant suppression of unsubscribes are a must. Your brand will be associated with spam by those who unsubscribed but still receive mailings before their request is processed. Lists that are housed and resold by multiple managers are probably mailed more frequently. This negatively impacts performance, brand equity and deliverability. As email filtering becomes dominant, you must make sure list managers are up to speed on delivery techniques and processes. ISP relations and white listing are critical. Check all available blacklists for the list manager's IP addresses. List managers should be able to monitor delivery of their campaigns and ensure messages are delivered to the inbox, not a bulk mail folder.

Finally, the best-performing lists provide the most ability to slice and dice the file to find the right people for your offer. Sorting based on demographics, psychographics, and even specific stages of the buying cycle will almost always outperform untargeted mailings.

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