Considering Buying a Mailing List? Here’s What You’ll Need to Know

March 2000
by Jeffrey Dobkin

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First of all, keep in mind that there are two types of lists (determined by their origin)-compiled lists and response lists. Compiled lists are a common source of names and records that have been gathered, collected and entered into a database. The names may have been acquired through public records of such items as vehicle owner registrations or high school teachers. Directories, such as of plant maintenance engineers, are usually compiled lists. Many lists are compiled from categories in phone books across the US. Examples would be all the photography shops or all the luggage dealers in the United States. Or all the plumbing supply dealers. When working with a compiled list, don’t forget that compiled information-like fish-gets old rather quickly and doesn’t age particularly well. Response lists are data about people who have actually responded to an ad or who have purchased from a catalog, direct mail package, TV ad or other offer. With any mailing you’re considering, first ask yourself precisely what groups or what characteristics make up the perfect audience. Then try to find a list that matches these definable characteristics closely.

What to Ask the List Vendor

If you are buying a response list, make sure you know if the list includes actual purchasers or merely inquirers (who are of less value). Also ask how old the names on the list are. How often is it updated? How often-and how recently-has it been cleaned (i.e., the old, outdated nonde…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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