More on Lists: How to Read a Datacard Like a Pro
Is Your Suspect List in a Prospecting Mode?
Another thing you can learn from the segments section of the datacard is whether the company is actively prospecting and growing. Compare the last 3-month buyers to the last 6-month buyers. If the more recent segment is higher, then it should be actively prospecting in the last few months. Also take a look to the right of the “segments” header. You’ll see that it states counts through 1/18/07, so you know the list is relatively up to date. Some lists update monthly, some quarterly. Updating means the list owner sends the list manager updated names, adding in the most recent purchasers since the previous update.
When you’re planning a campaign you want to use the most recent buyers. If a list hasn’t updated in a while, you may not want to mail it or do more research on the list. If you can’t find an update schedule on the datacard (looks like Nextmark doesn’t include this for some reason), find out when the next update is by contacting the list manager (or have your list broker do it). If an update is coming up soon and you have some time in your schedule before you order the names, I’d suggest waiting for the file to update.
Seasonality, Prospecting and List Segment Size
When comparing buyer segments to determine activity as described above, you’ll also need to take into consideration the seasonality (best selling season) of the company whose list you’re considering. Does the company have a more seasonal business? If you think so, then it would be natural to see big jumps in activity at certain times of the year (as reflected in list size for specific segments).
If you look at the Athleta datacard, updated in January, the last three months would take in the holiday (and post-holiday sale) season. To me, given the fact that in the six months prior to the January update, 70 percent (57K last three months, 81K last six months) of their orders came in from November 2006. My guesstimate would be there was some heavy prospecting going on in Q4 of 2006; in essence, fishing when the fish are biting.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.