List Selection 101

What location is to real estate professionals, list selection is to direct marketers. “Eloquent copy that falls on deaf ears cannot make the sale,” says Judy Rubin, vice president of Schaumburg, IL-based list services firm Rubin Response Management Services. “Phenomenal creative with full-color glossy photos of your product can dazzle no one if the envelope remains sealed.”

Adhering to the basic tenets of effective list selection is key. And those tenets are:

1) Select a list that targets your specific audience. Then use demographic, psychographic, and geographic selects to target the subgroups with the greatest likelihood and ability to respond to your offer.

2) Select a well-maintained list. Deliverability of the names on a list is directly related to how well the list is maintained. Choose lists that are updated regularly (at least 12 times a year), that are run against the Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOA) file, and that adhere to the Direct Marketing Association’s do-not-mail list.

3) Select a list from a reputable source. There are many types of lists out there – subscriber files, conference attendee lists, e-mail recipients, databases, compiled files…. Be sure the source of the list is reliable, high quality, and ethical. Opt-in e-mail lists, qualified subscriber lists, and mail order buyer lists are the cream of the crop, as the recipients on these lists have taken action to have themselves added to these lists.