Online list shopping update

Apr 01, 1999 10:30 PM  By

With the mach-speed changes occurring in Web delivery of information, it’s time to take another look at the list business online (see “Lists in space,” March 1997 issue).

Many list companies still use their Websites primarily to promote information about managed files and communicate with clients; few list firm Websites are widely used for ordering (American List Counsel offers an e-mail order form); and none are fulfilling orders via the Web. And it’s just as well, says Stephen Mickolajczyk, president of list brokerage at Catalyst Direct Marketing, because he feels most people who order via e-mail don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. Moreover, he says, there’s no real standardization yet for internal ordering forms among list companies. “It’s never going to become such an automated process that the ‘people’ factor will be taken away.”

One firm, Experian (www.experian.com), does claim that it will launch list shopping online this spring. Clients will be able to query a database of primarily compiled lists, place orders, pay electronically, and have the data delivered, according to Gary Laben, vice president of marketing and business development.

As of late February, here’s what a sampling of other list firms were presenting online:

21st Century Marketing (www.21stcm.com) List information: More than 100 lists are alphabetized, categorized, and searchable. In password-protected areas, brokers can access full datacards; mailers can view a tickler file of new lists. You need to call the company for a password.

Added value: Marketing information, articles about list issues and strategies, free literature, and a subscription to a free newsletter are but a click away.

Acxiom Direct Media (www.directmedia.com) List information: Using a search engine modeled after Yahoo!, you can research datacards for nearly 3,000 managed lists. Select a geographical region, then either browse through list categories and subcategories, or use a keyword to zoom to a specific location. New lists and updates are searchable by category. A site redesign, incorporating more comprehensive information and added end-user interaction, is expected to launch soon.

Added value: The Client Gallery, a collection of mini-sites, offers more information than a datacard, plus graphics and animation, and hyperlinks to the client’s site. Instead of just the current handful offered, many more clients will be showcased under the redesigned format.

American List Counsel (ALC) (www.amlist.com) List information: Find lists by category or SIC code, or key into the search engine to view data files. Clients can order online by e-mailing a form describing the list and selects, mail date, desired format, and billing information. Minimum quantities and other terms are outlined.

Added value: ALC’s Interactive Division’s Website (www.alcinteractive.com), which specifically outlines Web-based products and services geared to direct marketers. Browsers can get their feet wet, and then contact the firm for customized programs.

Catalyst Direct Marketing (www.catalystdm.com) List information: You can search client lists categorically or alphabetically, and check several hundred datacards, but you must call a rep to order. There’s a registration page, but clicking on the “contents” button circumvents it.

Added value: Catalyst sends clients disks with HTML-based recommendations, essentially a mini-Website with individual datacards, samples, and information hyperlinked together, says brokerage president Mickolajczyk. An updated compiled database, called Database Network, is on hold until a domain name problem is settled, but it is designed to include educational information for people less familiar with the list business.

Dependable Lists (www.dependablelists.com) List information: Review brief descriptions of three dozen of the company’s managed lists; complete datacards are not posted yet. The site is in the process of being revamped. Meanwhile, e-mail your request for a free list analysis based on a sample of your mailed promotion piece.

Added value: Direct-marketing tips, including USPS information and statistical formulas that mailers can use to evaluate tests, are buried in the Website. Dependable is testing a password-protected area, where clients can get a customized list recommendation, and then click on any of the lists shown to view complete datacards.

Worldata (www.worldata.com) List information: The datacard library includes complete information on every list the company manages. In the client showcase, files can be browsed by category. After researching lists online, users can e-mail a form for personalized service. “We get 75-125 online inquiries per day on our list-managed properties,” claims corporate vice president Jay Schwedelson, “so there’s a lot of activity.”

Added value: Marketing tips, new lists, and events are posted. Brand-new ListTrak service with its own password-protected URL allows brokers to check the status of their orders. Information is individually tailored for each account and updated automatically.