Rental List Selects Are Worth Their Weight in Gold

Is it worthwhile to pay for those extra selection charges on rental lists? The answer is an almost unqualified yes. The incremental response from taking the best-of-the-best names from a list will pay the extra costs of the selects.

Here’s an example. Magazine subscriber lists offer layers of selects when you rent their subscriber lists:

  1. Recency of the subscription, from past 12-month subscribers to last month’s subscribers. The more recent the subscriber, the higher the response. The basic rules of recency/frequency/monetary (RFM) apply, and recent subscriptions are better older subscriptions.
  2. Paid subscribers are much stronger than nonpaid subscribers. People who’ve actually spent the money for their subscription always outperform subscribers who’ve taken a subscription or free issue and haven’t yet committed with their payment.
  3. Direct mail sold (DMS) subscribers are more responsive than the road mix of subscriptions because you exclude the subscribers who bought through “stamp sheets,” the fundraising subscription efforts that sell multiple subscriptions through sweepstakes and school fundraising efforts.

Each select will cost a tiny amount; if the base price is $0.10, the selects may cost $0.01 apiece. But the value of getting the best names is twofold. If you take the best names, you know that at least some will perform above breakeven. You can always loosen the selects and broaden the list universe over time. And if your prospecting circulation is limited, use the selects to make the rented lists work as hard as possible and you’ll be rewarded with the maximum response.

What other selects work?

  • Dollar selects are valuable to find high-dollar buyers within a mail order buyer list. Dollar selects also eliminate the low-ticket buyers who are below your average order and won’t respond to your offer.
  • Product selects can home in on buyers who’ve bought your type of merchandise.
  • Geographic or zip code selects allow you to zero in on the areas where your offer really works. If you’re selling to bluebloods, they almost certainly don’t live in trailer parks.
  • Work with your list broker to layer on the best selects to make sure your list rental budget is getting the maximum response.

    Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based consultancy Catalog Marketing Economics.

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