In the past online list count systems were only available to specialized list providers such as List Brokers, list compilers, and list managers. Today through online count systems similar to the one offered by List Solutions, any average Joe who is willing to do their own processing can have access to these systems. Not only can they run reports but they can also place orders for the mailing lists if they wish. Chances are if you are reading this article you have known about this information for some time. The topic today is whether or not the online systems are a better option than contacting a list professional and working with them to attain your leads.
We can start by asking a few blatant questions such as: Are the online count systems overly difficult? No. Is there a massive membership fee? No. Are there various sources on the internet to direct me to a compiler? Yes. Can basically anyone run a count online? Yes. One more question about online count systems you must ask is, am I costing myself money by not letting a professional provide the best list recommendation for my unique marketing campaign? The answer is almost always yes.
Let me give you one scenario of how a business owner can waste money using an online count system. Greg is a gym owner who is located in the suburbs of a major city. Currently the gym has 500 members so Greg sets a goal to sign up 50 more members in three months time. To increase his number of members he is preparing a direct mail campaign and decides to order the mailing list himself using an online count system. To find an online source he searches Google and reviews a few vendors with a high rank. He selects a vendor, signs up online, inputs selection criteria which is a households with an income of $60,000 +, with a 10 mile radius of his club, who have lived in the area for less than one year. He orders 4,000 addresses for $120.00 which is 3 cents per lead. His total cost in the mail (list, mail piece, mailing service, & postage) is 35 cents per piece. It all seems easy enough right?
Wrong, we can now break down this particular situation and see where Greg squandered away marketing dollars he did not need to. First we need to ask if Greg chose the best complier. There are dozens of different data compliers, 100’s of list venders, and each has its own strong points. So what compiler did he choose? Was it the compiler with the best medical file and a bad consumer file? Maybe it was the complier who specializes in businesses and has a poor new mover file. He would not know because he does not have a tacit knowledge of the industry. Next we need to look at whether he chose the correct criteria for his list. How much disposable income does a household have for a gym which brings in $60,000 a year and has three children? Should he have chose new movers instead of one year residents? Did the company who he ordered the list from run it through the NCOA (National Change of Address) to make sure it was as up to date as possible? Are there undeliverable addresses, moves, or vacancies? There is a good deal of questions being asked here which your average business owner will not be able to answer. All of these factors can have a snowball effect on your direct marketing campaign and drop your response rate by simply not reaching your product or services audience.
Now let us look at just how much money Greg could waste using some conservative numbers for the sake of this scenario. As stated above we are assuming that each mail piece sent is costing Greg 35 cents after all expenses are taken into account. With all the errors Greg has made in the list purchasing process he could have around 200 pieces of the 4000 that do not reach the intended audience or reach people who his service does not appeal to. Those 200 pieces cost Greg $70 after mail piece development and shipping costs. That is more than half the list price.
This small scale example can apply to any direct marketing campaign, and on larger orders can end up costing thousands. When you order a mailing list though a list specialist the majority of the time they will give you a similar pricing as the online count system. One of the largest benefits of using list vendors is that they have almost certainly worked with someone in your industry or a similar industry so they know what type of demographics have seen results in the past. Having a tacit knowledge of an industry is not something to be ignored to simply cut a link out of the command chain. So let’s ask ourselves another set of questions. Do online count systems save you money? No. Is it easier than calling a representative who can help you with your order? No. Why would you choose to order a mailing list yourself rather than let a professional help you for the same price? You tell me.