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Does Your List Fit?

Avoid costly mistakes by using data that’s both relevant and current.

The core of any good targeted or personalized marketing campaign is the list; but let’s face it: buying lists requires an additional investment. In these tight economic times, it’s tempting to cut corners and go with a lower priced, perhaps unknown list company.


Sometimes you can get a good list that way, but other times, you get what you pay for. Here’s a cautionary tale.

New mothers are a huge target market. As any family of a new baby knows, babies need lots of new things and they need them in volume for a long time. For this reason, new mothers are a highly coveted market for manufacturers of everything from diapers to infant clothes to baby food.

One new mother was grateful for the bombardment of coupons that helped defray the costs of the new baby. But one day, she received a package from an infant formula manufacturer that surprised her. It was a nearly bread-sized box, and when she opened it, she discovered that it contained two samples of powered baby formula—each a full pint! In the past, this would have been a welcome freebie, but what surprised her was that her daughter had long outgrown infant formula. In fact, she had just turned three years old! This was an expensive package to send. It weighed almost a pound. The samples were full, retail-sized cans, and the box was packed with printed collateral.

Imagine the postage! All wasted on what had clearly been a very old list.

This begs a few important questions.

  • What was the cost to produce each package?
  • What was the cost to mail each package?
  • For the lower-priced (but clearly more outdated) list, what was the ROI generated for each package sent?
  • What would the ROI have been if the company had spent more upfront but purchased a more current list?

When you are doing direct marketing, your list is one of the most important elements of the entire campaign. You can have great creative, a powerful message, and a terrific product, but if you are sending to the wrong or an outdated list, your investment will not be well spent.