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What to do with the "right list" once you've found it.

Checklists can be valuable. Even if they sometimes seem simplistic, every so often they help you avoid a "slap on your forehead" situation, "How did we ever overlook that?!"

So, after you've picked the right list(s) to rent for your newsletter promotion, review the following two checklists for what to do next.

1. Make sure you can get date clearance for the time you want to mail.

2. Send a sample of your package to the list supplier immediately upon making the request. If the package you intend to mail is still "in the works," your previous package or even a draft of the salesletter will normally do.

3. Ask the owner or broker to protect the mailing date for you--preferably a week on each side.

4. Don't confuse "delivery date" with "mail date." It usually takes longer than you think to get the list, and once you have it you need time for the printer and the mailhouse, etc.

5. Merge-purge if you use a number of lists. (Fifty-thousand names may be the crossover point where merge-purge becomes economically efficient.)

6. Specify the mailing label format you want--4-up Cheshire, mag tape. Don't be surprised.

7. Specify the key codes you want for list testing.


After you have the list in hand

A. Check the ZIP codes and make sure all they are on all addresses and complete. There are industry horror stories of compiled lists where, not having ZIP codes, the owner simply used 60601 for all of Chicago.

B. Check for complete addresses. Intrernational lists can be especially tricky since they may not fit into conventional U.S. format--sometimes leaving off the city line and going directly from street address to country.

C. Ask for a ZIP breakdown. If your market is on Route 128 around Boston and in the Silicon Valley, you want to see a lot of names in those areas.

On large lists you may have perhaps enough names that you can cherry pick just the areas you want and still reach the rental minimum.

D. Use your special knowledge. If someone at your place is from Dallas, have him or her check those names to see if they "look right."

E. Insist on phyically handling the list. I know some list owners will insist on your using their mailhouse or only shipping to your mailing house. Tell them you want the list delivered to your office.

F. Use Address Correction Requested. You wouldn't normally do this on a rental list, but put it on a portion of the list, say 1,000 envelopes, and the number of nixies you receive will tell you a lot about the list.

G. Consider Ed McLean's phone check method. If, in a couple dozen calls, you find people on the job in the position noted in the address, it's a pretty decent list.

About list testing

You don't want to rent that list of 60,000 names cold. How do you decide how many (and which) to test?

* Test a large enough quantity to yield 50 positive responses. In these

days with business newsletters commonly getting responses under one-half of one percent, that's more than 10,000 names.

Most marketers will decide on the 5,000 minimum. Just remember your results from a segment of that size is not statistically valid, but rather an "indication."

* Take an "Nth name" select. On the list above, every 12th name will give you 5,000 names.

If you worry that the list owner or broker will give hotline names or some other unrepresentative group for a test, you could specify ending ZIP numbers. They don't spread out evenly. But 0, 1 and 2 will be preponderantly business addresses and 7, 8 and 9 will yield more residential addresses.

I've heard "experts" say, for a national mailing, that Iowa and Maryland are usually representative responders and you could test by mailing to those states.
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Title Annotation:DM Notebook
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Dec 16, 2003
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