1. Many are not what they seem. Please read about traditional compiled lists (above) as the same pitfalls apply to nearly all compiled specialty lists.
- The same lists being advertised under various names, and or
- Actual subsets pulled from traditional compiled (wholesale) lists, and or
- They often use inaccurate (and or unverifiable) models and some even say that it is a list of “This or That” “and Prospects”. This means surely in a list including any group of people from any source there are some with an interest in This or That and the balance of the list might be (the Prospects). Technically, they told the truth.
- They are not regularly refreshed or updated-the undeliverable rates can exceed 30%-the inaccuracy or inappropriateness rate can exceed 50%.
- If it is too good to be true it probably is, as the perfect list rarely exists. The list of lists is so large it is often best accessed using keywords and list salespeople devise ways to advertise list names people want (like internet search engine optimization). The question is whether they can at least marginally fulfill those requirements.They know 99% of direct mail is sent without returns-the client will never know how many were delivered or how accurately. Legitimate lists and list managers are not the spare bedroom operations, which dominate the entire list reseller/list compiler/list broker industry and the list advertisements in the lists of lists.More surprising is that even the largest and most respected names in the list and marketing industries sell disguised wholesale data and with salespeople-not experts, also sell a lot of junk. As with all lists, first class/return service mailings should be tested.
2. Watch for quality and selects. 90+-year old doctors hit the AMA survey for “active” and they may well be, but they aren’t practicing. The reverse mortgage prospect file includes those in their 40’s when you must be 62+ to qualify. Why? Because someone in the house is over 62 yet the mail is sent to the “head of household.” Similar to any list you must know the available selects.
A large physician file regularly generates the same name 2 or 3-times in a given list. Why? Because the physician has a private office, an address at a hospital, and may even also appear at a free clinic even though they only work there a couple of days per month. You must remember to ask for only what you want-1 address per name or one name per address, etc. Further, we’ve seen large, somewhat reputable list sources using truly inaccurate “random” selects. There was nothing “random” about them.
Nearly all lists obtained from state licenses are obtained only once per year. This includes physicians, lawyers, occupational therapists, cosmetologists, insurance agents, and many, many more. While they are often then run through NCOA and other postal processes monthly, the names are not refreshed (new licensees added and out-of-date licensees removed) but once a year.
3. Learn to recognize “traditional” compiled data. There are more than 60,000 “Lists” advertised to the list industry by the largest “lists of lists” sources, SRDS and Nextmark/MIN. These firms publish reference resources for media buyers to compare quantities, audiences, and prices for advertising mediums like newspaper, network TV, cable TV, Radio, and magazine ads, and lists.
Just because these lists are advertised in “legitimate” publications, many (most) are not what they claim to be.