A buyer's guide to data lists
There are multiple list managers and list brokers in the UK alone, all of which claim to sell the best data. So where do you start?
Our Buyer’s Guide helps you understand how list suppliers work, gives a guide to pricing and informs how you can ensure that you’re getting a genuine mailing list from a reliable source.
Direct marketing, regardless of whether you choose direct mail, email marketing, telemarketing or SMS marketing, requires a targeted, highly accurate data list to ensure a successful marketing campaign. Unlike traditional advertising, direct marketing offers an effective and measurable method to reach a targeted audience based on specific criteria chosen by you.
Marketing is not a short-term fix and should always be viewed as a long-term, strategic approach to new customer acquisition and existing customer retention. It is your responsibility to manage the client relationships to maximise the full potential of each customer.
The success of your marketing campaign depends on the quality of the database as well as the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Success should not be measured on initial response or campaign ROI; in most cases you should also consider the lifetime value of each customer and your client retention.
For example if a charity recruits 100 new supporters who each donate an average of £10, the initial response is £1000 gross, minus the costs of the marketing campaign. This is your ROI and often this is a negative figure. However, if the charity typically retains 80% of their 100 new supporters and each donates on average £50 per year, the projected return of the marketing campaign is £4000 gross.
Impact Marketing are a data list owner, providing both business and consumer lists. Alongside this, we offer full marketing services including telemarketing and email marketing to both B2B and B2C.
  • Data List brokers are usually independent companies, not restricted to selling data lists from any specific data list owner. Generally speaking, they have a good understanding of data lists but they are simply resellers earning a commission for recommending a list and have little to no control over the accuracy or cleansing of the data they hold.
  • Data List managers represent lists owned by mail-order companies, publishers and other third party businesses looking to monetise their own customer data. Data list managers are often restricted to selling the data lists they represent and although they can be a good source of niche data lists, they don’t rarely offer data lists that cover mass markets, wide areas etc.
  • Data List owners such as Impact Marketing Europe are the source of data. They are the companies responsible for the compiling, updating and managing of databases to ensure that they are correctly prepared for a client’s marketing campaign. Unlike data list managers and brokers, Impact Marketing hold data which is UK wide and can be targeted through a variety of different criteria such as geographically (Region, County, Town/City & Postcode) to name one example.
Responsive Data Lists vs. Compiled Data Lists
  • Data list brokers rent their databases from data list owners. Some owners, such as Impact Marketing Europe, manage huge databases of information for tens of millions of consumers and businesses. These "compiled list" databases are populated with information collected from various sources such as government registers, directories, credit bureaus, annual reports and third party contributors.
  • Other data lists are more targeted, containing detailed information from people who have either enquired about a particular product or service, or have permitted companies to contact them. These "Response Lists" can range from people who subscribe to a specific magazine, have made an online transaction or individuals who have returned a product, warranty card or survey to name a few examples.
  • Dat list suppliers cannot guarantee how responsive a mailing list will be, as there are multiple variables that influence a response rate, however the "typical deliverability" (the percentage of mailers that reach their intended recipient) should be quoted/guaranteed before purchase.
  • As a data list owner, we constantly refresh and verify our databases to remove any inaccurate records and to add and update information. The typical industry accuracy rate is around 92% and data list suppliers should always offer a guarantee to replace any “goneaways” over and above 8%. However we guarantee 100% of our data and will offer to replace any returns that you receive from your marketing campaign. It is not always possible for a list to be 100% accurate as an individual’s/business’s circumstances can change on a daily basis and we quote a typical "goneaway" rate of 3-5%.
Selecting the right data for your marketing campaign is a key step towards its eventual success. Credible list suppliers are able to tailor a list based on the specific product or service(s) you offer and the target audience you aim to reach.
There are 2 distinct methods of targeting data;
  • Profiled Data Lists - Profiled data is a general method of identifying consumer data records based on their geographical and social profiles. Many companies have sophisticated software programs to identify and categorise households based on their demographic wealth, life stage and household composition. Profiles for each household are established through results gathered from the UK Census and many other contributory factors. If your business provides a general product that can be used by a wide range of individuals or companies, then profiled data will serve you well in your marketing campaign.
  • Lifestyle Data Lists – Lifestyle data is based on facts and is compiled from; direct response, behaviour, financial & retail transactions, share registers, directorship registers, research, consumer surveys, credit history and many more. Lifestyle data is a much more targeted option however the factual element of this data is more costly to achieve and therefore the price of true Lifestyle Data is higher than Profiled Data.
It is imperative that you establish whether the data list supplier(s) you are talking to are offering profiled data or true lifestyle data when comparing different data sources and establish prices for the different data sets.
The same method of targeting applies to both B2B lists and B2C lists. A supplier specialising in highly targeted Lifestyle Data will not be able to compete against a supplier selling profiled data due to difference in price. It’s not uncommon for some data companies to sell data without telling the buyer whether it is profiled or a true lifestyle data list. This results in the customer getting something less responsive than they expected.
We sell Lifestyle and Profiled data lists and we will always explain what type of data we are quoting on so that there is no confusion in your buying process.
List Seeding
  • Data List owners plant seeds within their data lists and use an independent 3rd party to track how many times an advertiser uses the database. If the data list is used outside of the licence agreement, the seeding company will notify the data list owner who will usually seek compensation for the unauthorised uses.
  • Mailing lists are commonly sold on a rental basis and remain the property of the list owners. Typically, you will agree a rental period with the seller. This is usually a single use licence or a 12-month multiple use licence, although Impact Marketing Europe can offer a bespoke licence based on a specified number of uses or even an outright purchase agreement. Offering both business data lists and consumer data lists, we have a database available that will yield positive results for your business.
Choosing a Data List Company
We advise that you do your homework on all of your suppliers prior to committing as procuring a data list is often a substantial and very important purchase. There are many data list sellers in the market selling substandard, old, inaccurate and sometimes even illegal lists and unfortunately buyers usually find this out the hard way.
There’s no way of telling how clean a data list is until you use it so always base your purchasing decisions on the reputation and accreditation of the seller. A few questions you might want to consider finding the answer to before confirming a purchase include:
  • How long has the company been trading?
  • Have they recently changed company name?
  • Do they have any CCJ’s or winding up orders against them?
  • Is their registered address a real commercial property?
  • Are they members of the Direct Marketing Association?
  • Are they registered with the Data Protection Act?
  • Is the database their own or are they resellers?
  • What guarantees do they offer (if any)?
  • Can you speak to/contact a real client that’s willing to give a testimonial?
Data List Pricing
Standard compiled data list pricing is based on a cost per thousand (CPM). The typical CPM is £100 for consumer records and £140 for business records for single use. In most cases fees are added to the rate depending on what selections you have made to enhance your data list. Most data list brokers/managers have a minimum order of £500-£1000 + VAT.
  • Lifestyle, Behavioural and Researched data lists command premium prices, usually in excess of £150 per thousand for base rental, plus selection fees.
  • For quality e-mail lists, the typical minimum order size is 5,000 records. The average cost for e-mail lists is a CPM of £150-£250 and this usually includes the broadcast fee. Managed campaigns usually have a set-up and production fee of approximately £100.
An output/administration fee usually applies to each data list order; we charge a flat fee of £40. This is for the selection, extraction and production of your data list in your preferred format.
Data list success rates
It is impossible to quote a standard response rate as every campaign has a unique set of variables and merits. A direct mail list of 5,000 names selling a retail product may see a return of 1% - 3%. Whilst this may sound low, this would be considered a solid performance. Email success rates are considerably lower and in some markets such as financial services, a 0.1% return is considered a success. However, you should understand that there are no guarantees about the amount of business you can generate.
Top Tips for Buying Data Lists
  • Beware of false bargains. Certain data lists may be cheap to buy, but may cost your company more in the long run with poor response rates as well as wasted time and money. Make sure that you do a thorough review of your data list suppliers before placing an order. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
  • Run sample mailings. Send samples of your mailing to different subsets of the data list, analyse the response, then send the most effective version to the rest of the data list. The right creative content and marketing strategy plays a big part in the success of your marketing campaign; the data list is just one of many elements.
  • Don't be seedy! Only use the list in accordance with the licence agreement in place. Data suppliers will monitor how many times you use the data list with "seeds” and will charge you for any unauthorised uses of the data.
  • Whiter than white. Make sure email address lists are opted-in for 3rd party marketing and collected in accordance with current policy. Check that your email broadcasting platform is white-listed. If 50% of your email messages get blocked by spam filters you’ll find it very hard to return a profit on your investment and run the risk of your reputation being negatively affected.