How to Spot Hot Prospecting Lists

Looking for good prospecting lists? There are two ways to find them.

The most common method is to test. You rent an adequate sample—say, 1,000 to 5,000 names apiece— from a variety of lists.

You mail these files once or twice in addition to your continuation lists to see if the response rate and average order value reach your minimum for roll-out. Then you go back to the lists that make the minimum and go deeper, and you mail them until their response starts dropping below your overall average.

You can be comfortable with this method as long as you have an intuitive sense that you are reaching the core of your potential customers. But what if you are not? What if your budget is strained by the cost of mailing large enough samples of test lists get good readings?

At this point, you can try the second approach. But it is very different from the first one.

You find and use all the lists that your customer are on , even if you have never mailed them.

The discovery process requires the use of a cooperative or membership database of rental lists to create your testing universe. First, extract from or flag in your customer file all of the new customers that you have gotten in the last twelve months. You need the full trailing year to take in the possibility of seasonal buying.

Second, when you perform your next merge/purge against the rental list database, request an interaction or penetration report on matches of your new customers to all the other lists in the database. The customers you already have that match lists you have not mailed are signals for you to investigate those lists. These buyers could have come to you from your website or from a passed-along copy of your catalog. Even small quantities of them showing up on a list you haven’t considered before can point you toward many more.

When you see these matches show up on the interaction report you will have found new lists to test in your standard sample-and-mail method. Some of the new sources might be similar to your current prospects and become solid continuation lists for you. However, one or two might demonstrate exceptional response and order values. Then you will have accelerated your sales growth faster than your usual testing method could have. You will have found new hot lists before you have rented a single name from them.

Bill Singleton writes “Show Me The Data” each month for Lists and Data Strategies. He is a Manager of Analytics and Consulting Services at The Allant Group in Naperville, IL. He can be reached at: and 630-579-3448.

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