July 2015 - The right shoes
If you were about to climb a mountain, would you buy the cheapest possible shoes you could find? Unlikely.
You would wisely undertake thorough online research, ask other climbers for advice, visit stores to try on a number of different pairs to see which feel right for you and make an informed decision.
Achieving a great result with a direct marketing campaign is a lot like scaling a mountain. You need to ensure you are prepared to reach the summit and that if renting a list, it won't fail you.
Compiling and maintaining high levels of accuracy with lists is a very costly exercise. When you consider around 20% to 30% of the population either change jobs or move home each year, it's not surprising that keeping list quality at an acceptably high level is a huge challenge.
The very best lists on the market still see around 2% to 5% returned mail, 5% email bounce backs or 4%-7% wrong phone details. Such lists tend to guarantee all errors or anything in excess of 2% to 5%.
Some of the cheaper lists can also offer similar guarantees. The only problem is if you received 40% returned mail for example, the refund on the list will be miniscule compared to the wasted postage which won't be covered.
Let's say you wanted to do a mail-out to builders throughout Australia. List A offered ongoing use of hundreds of thousands of records (all industries) for $250. List B included just your builders, was for one time use only and 5,000 of them cost you $2,500.
If you mail 5,000 from List A and 20% were RTS, you have probably just wasted $700 to $1,000 on postage, printing and mail processing costs. If 40% were RTS then you almost line ball with the List B package after just one mailing! It is not unheard of to see over 50% RTS with some of the worst lists.
In addition to that, you now have created a job for yourself in terms of removing all the errors from your list so you don't mail them again on future mailings. You've also advertised to many people who sent your mail piece back that you have mailed a very old list.
With postal increases, it's never been more important to use high quality mailing lists. While you can save money initially with a cheaper list, if that list is poorly maintained you can really waste serious money on postage plus shrink your pool of potential respondees.
If you primarily conduct telemarketing then you know how hard it is to make calls or motivate your staff to do so. With the very best lists on the market, one in every 10 numbers could be wrong in some way. With the very worst lists, how long before you or your staff pack it in if one in four (or worse) are wrong?
With email marketing, the Spam Act is something you need to familiarise yourself with. Expressed consent or opt-in business email lists are very scarce in Australia. It might be very tempting to order a list for a few hundred dollars to send emails but you are risking a fine from the ACMA and considerable damage to your brand from people who don't like receiving unsolicited emails.
As with all things in life you get what you pay for and when it comes to lists, that adage rings particularly true.