Your guide to buying mailing lists

Your guide to buying mailing listsBuying a mailing list can be fraught with pitfalls. John Keating from Databroker has eight valuable pieces of advice to help you source the right mailing list

1. Don't delegate

I receive many enquiries from receptionists, apprentices or others who are not qualified to source marketing data. At the very least, the person sourcing the list should have an in-depth understanding of your marketing campaign objectives and target audiences. In our experience, delegation of data purchasing usually ends up with decisions being made on price only.

If you want to go down this route, you can just buy a cheap list from eBay and throw the budget and potentially your good reputation down the drain.

Even the business owner may not have much expertise in the nuances of marketing data. The safest route is to get expert impartial advice before you speak to data sales reps.

2. Don't believe the hype

All data list owners will tell you that their data is the best and that it is unique in the marketplace. The truth is it is all just hot air. When you speak to a mailing list company, you don't speak to the data experts, you speak to a sales person paid to tell you good things about their data.

So take what the sales person says with a pinch of salt and ask the right questions so you can compare the different lists that are available.

3. Don't ask silly questions

How good is your data? You might think this is a good question, and certainly it's one many people ask, but what answer are you expecting back?

I guarantee that all responders will give you a pre-prepared spiel that again leaves you with no tangible information about choosing a suitable list.

Questions to ask should cover guarantees, legalities and data suppressions, opt-in mechanisms and sources, samples, duplicate prevention and more. A good broker will ask these questions for you.

4. Don't believe that all data is equal

Would you buy a "genuine article" Rolex off a man in the pub for a tenner and expect it to be real? No, you wouldn't. But some small business owners do believe the hype from data sales people and then they wonder why their mail server is shut off, why they have complaints about spam and why the data owner is slow to return their complaint call.

5. Don't buy from people who are not experienced

I have seen many companies appearing recently claiming to be data experts. It's vital to work with companies that have good data credentials so that you get lists that comply with legal and ethical marketing standards.

6. Don't jump in with both feet

As a rule of thumb, data sales people prefer you to buy large amounts of data and therefore spend more money with them. They frequently come up with silly offers to tempt you into giving them a large chunk of their monthly sales target.

When these offers come your way, take stock and work out whether it is actually worth your while to buy big chunks of untested data. As a rule of thumb, test first to validate the list before buying large volumes. And if it's too good an offer to be true, walk away.

7. But don't take the samples as gospel

If you have ever purchased a duff list after receiving a good sample, think about these questions before buying your next list: Do you think data companies realise the importance of good samples pre-sale? Do you think data companies have ever considered cleansing a sample before release?

8. Give data procurement the importance it deserves

Do your research. Adhere to direct marketing laws. Think of the ethics and brand implications of using poor quality and/or illegal marketing data. Buy from Direct Marketing Association (DMA) members only. And most importantly, speak to data experts. After all, would you fix your own car?

Written by John Keating of Databroker.

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