List acquisition and management

List management & list rental

Direct (e)mail can be a great tool to build relationships with existing clients or to target new customers and generate leads. The starting point of your Direct Mail campaign is a mailing list that targets the right group of people. The more highly targeted your list, the better the results of your campaign. But what defines a good list? And where do you find a good list?

1. Define the purpose Before you even consider buying a list, you need to decide on the purpose of the list. What do you need the list for? Define your direct mail campaign, and set goals. If you decide to use the list to generate attendees for a one off event, your list will probably look a lot different than when you’re trying to generate new leads. Try to be as specific as possible, since defining your target market and finding the right list is key to the success of your campaign.

2. The Spam Act Now that you’ve specified the use of your lists, you need to determine whether it’s in accordance with The Spam Act. The Spam Act prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages with an Australian link. Key to the Spam Act is that you must have the person's permission to send them an email. When purchasing a list there is no guarantee that the email addresses have been obtained with the consent of the account-holder, and it’s therefore your responsibility to check this with the provider of the list. Familiarise yourself with The Spam Act before buying or renting a list, and ensure that you meet the requirements. More information on the Spam Act can be found here.

3. Targeting Identifying your target group is the next important step. Identify your Ideal Customer Profile by describing the role and type of company you’re after (e.g. Head of Marketing in Telco’s with less than 50 employees). Include the size of the company, the industry they’re active in, and the geography they serve. Profiling your target group will help you find your most profitable customers.

Within these firm demographics, there are some buyers who you would want to serve, and others you'd rather not. This is now moving from segmentation to defining your Ideal Customer Profile or ICP.

When developing your Ideal Customer Profile, bear in mind that you need to target the person who is troubled by the problem, and not the decision maker. If you have a software solution that solves a problem for accountants, you need to target accountants, and not the CEO of the company. The CEO might be the decision maker, but he or she is not troubled by the problem, and therefore unlikely to be interested in your solution.

Based on the objectives that you’ve set for your campaign, you need to determine the number of names that you need to target. Analysing response rates will be an important factor in this decision. According to Epsilon’s Email Trends and Benchmark Report the average Open Rate is 23.3% and the average Click-Through Rate is 5.9%.

4. Develop a process Now that you’ve covered all the basics, there is one more step to take: develop an email marketing procedure. Before you start your campaign, capture the following in a procedure:

  • How often are you contacting the names?
  • How are you handling bounces?
  • What are you doing with feedback?
  • How and how often are you deduping names? (process of checking for duplicates)See also List deduping

Generally speaking, we recommend rhythm for every type of campaign. Contact everyone on your list frequently, and not at random.

5. Renting or buying? Whether you rent or buy a list might be influenced by your decisions in the procedure. The traditional approach is to buy a list. 'Buy' gives you the right to use the names as many times as you want. Typical price $1-$2 per name. Renting is a one-time use, and is less attractive. Pricing around 1/3 the buy price. The problem is that buying gets you a list guaranteed to decay rapidly. If average tenure of a person in your target market is 4 years, then the list decays 2% a month.

List maintenance is a very time-consuming process. If you don’t have the capacity to do the maintenance yourself, consider renting a list.

A workaround that some list providers might be able to support is to negotiate a deal whereby you pay for the list using a certain filter, and then pay only for new names each time you re-run the filter.

6. Questions for a list broker The member directory of The Australian Direct Marketing Association includes details of reliable list brokers in your state and industry. But, before buying or renting a list, ask the broker the following questions:

  • How frequently is the list updated?
  • How is it updated? Lists checked by telephone are more reliable.
  • What is the deliverability of the list? Most lists claim to have a 95% deliverability rate, which means approximately 5% of the mail will be returned to sender.
  • Keep a record of the dead mail you receive and ask your broker to reimburse you if the deliverability guarantee is not met.
  • What restrictions are there on using the list?
  • When was the list last used? If the list is constantly used, its recipients may become less receptive to offers.

Visit the Direct Mail webpage of Australia post for more helpful insights on Direct Mail campaigns and list management.

Extracting contacts

How to extract the contacts you need from:


List vendors