Everyone’s after a good list. And while there are plenty of marketing lists available today—for multiple channels—the really good ones are hard to come by. Here, Folio: expands on sister publication Circulation Management’s recent List of the Year feature to highlight the necessary components for a winning list.

CM did a survey with SRDS in the spring that sought to determine the top-ranked lists circulators are renting as well as what buyers look for in a list, what works best in the list business and which lists were most sought after. CM used the following criteria to determine the quality of each list: effective performance, selection/segmentation, the ability to pinpoint and deliver results with your target audience, and efficient performance and did the conversion price for new subscribers stay within budget?

Nielsen Business Media’s Sales & Marketing Management title earned the top spot on CM’s b-to-b magazine list. Martha Stewart Living won top honors on the consumer side. Rounding out the list, Harvard Health Publications was the grand list winner and top consumer non-magazine list. Ziff Davis Business Masterfile had the top b-to-b non-magazine list.

Multi-Channel Lists

In today’s market, the ingredients for a winning list haven’t changed all that much—a good list still starts with good hygiene. Proven response rates and predictable buying behavior are also important. And with the expansion of delivery channels, there are some new benefits and challenges for list managers with each option. “It’s essential that a list owner establish itself with postal, e-mail and perhaps telemarketing,” says Rob Sanchez, president of list management and interactive services and partner of MeritDirect, a White Plains, New York-based direct marketing services company. A multi-channel list source enables the direct marketer to target their audience with multiple touchpoints.

Each delivery channel has its own challenges and red flags. Print is facing a dip in volume and marketers must be increasingly creative and use more targeted selections to counter the drop-off. In addition, postal lists seem to be overwhelmingly made up of expires or former customers, Sanchez says. For compiled lists, marketers should be wary of lists that are overly broad and do not carry specific targeting to attract vertical markets. And e-mail list success begins with using a reputable source.

In today’s climate of shrinking lists, managers have to be smarter and employ more sophisticated tools or methods to succeed. “Demographics, psychographics and multi-channel [capabilities] are more important than they were previously,” Sanchez says. “Direct marketers have become extremely sophisticated in their analytic capabilities in evaluating ROI on campaigns. A list owner should strive to provide increased ‘selectability’ as well as multi-channel touchpoints in order to capitalize on as much market share as possible.”

Rules for E-Mail

Some marketers are generating more revenue from their e-mail names but they’ve also noticed a drop in e-mail response rates. The problem is that, in general, people are inundated with e-mails and some marketing efforts are suffering as a result. “If you don’t manage those communications the right way it’s going to start to cut into your business and renewals,” says Joanne Wheatley, vp of audience marketing for Nielsen Business Media.

Perhaps the top best practice for e-mail lists is obtaining the prospective list from a credible source. Any lists with a murky or unclear source mix should be avoided. The better and more responsive lists are the very well-branded and transparent ones, Sanchez says. The e-mail marketing world is one of full disclosure, including access to a list owner’s privacy policy. It’s also important to know the third-party template and opt-out procedure.


Top 5 Ingredients for a Good List?
Here’s a quick hit list of what makes a winning list in today’s market.

1. The list of names on the file must be recent and representative of specific behavior.
2. The names must have demonstrated responsiveness.
3. The list must contain names that are well segmented and competitively priced.
4. The hygiene on the file must be meticulously maintained to insure deliverability.
A good list must have a credible source, especially when it comes to e-mail, and strongly branded lists often outperform vague compilations.