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Whatís in a Name? Using Direct and Email Lists
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By Mark Kolier

An oft-cited set of statistics says the success of a direct mail campaign depends 40 percent on the list of names used, 40 percent on the product offer and 20 percent on the creative presentation of your mailer. While opinions vary slightly on the breakdown, the importance of a highly responsive mailing list cannot be underestimated. As e-mail marketing has taken hold in recent years, many of the same rules apply. And if anything, your list selection is even more critical.

Direct Mail Lists: Since postage rates are set to increase May 14 (ref), itís more important than ever to have a clean and well targeted list. It can often be the one thing that makes the difference in your promotionís success. Letís sort through the maze of topics youíll commonly run into in a direct campaign when discussing your list, including list managers, list brokers, mail responders and selects.

There are many qualified list managers who represent the ultimate owners of the lists you might look to rent. List brokers are consultants who will help you find lists of mail responders (people who have responded to some type of mailing and have requested to receive information) matching your customer demographic profile. Knowing your ultimate customer or decision maker gives you or your list broker additional selection criteria you can use to hone your list down to a set of the most likely responders. Of course you will want to reach customers that respond to mail offers. But list Ďselectsí enable you to target demographic, geographic and even psychographic information to create a mailing list or file that will provide you an even higher response rate to your offer. You will pay more for selects due to the additional selection data required, but today mailing smarter is what it is all about. Remember that lists are rentedónormally for one time use only. Each time you wish to send out a mailing you must Ďrentí that name anew. Discounts for multiple uses are standard industry practice.

E-mail Lists: A major reason email lists are popular is the time frames are significantly shorter from distribution of promotion to response and/or order. Couple that with the fact that there are no pieces to print or mail and you quickly realize the attraction (and low cost) of e-mail marketing. The downsides are well heralded. SPAM filters choke off many email promotions. Even if you are sending your promotion to a frequent e-mail responder, chances are unfortunately strong that some of your e-mails will never reach your intended recipient. And itís only becoming more difficult.

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Mark Kolier is the President and Founder of CGSM.
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