By Joanna Fletcher
Wouldn't it be great to begin your new business with a list of people in your target market to send your unique selling proposition to directly? Or to start every marketing campaign with a well-defined group of customers whose needs seem obvious? This is the key to the great success of marketing lists as a product on the Internet.
However, you may be buying an old or outdated list, never knowing why your marketing campaign is not working. Some lists are automatically relegated to spam folders because they use generic addresses or, worse, can get you blacklisted as a spammer. The list may not be adequately targeted or segmented. Response rates are low, at 1 to 2 percent, and these lists are really useful only for products with a very wide appeal — minimum list sizes are usually around 5,000 names.
Laying out your cash for a list could be a good or bad idea, depending on what business you are in and what your goals are for your marketing.
Location, Location, Location
If you are promoting a storefront with a physical address, such as a bakery, or have a delivery model like a pizza place, you may get some success from buying a list with a geographic base. This list of emails, addresses, and/or phone numbers of people who live or work near your business is a vital part of letting people know you are in the area and ready to serve them.
No Interest in Marketing
If your product is aimed at home owners or home improvers, consider buying a list of people who have the purchasing power and the need for what you have to offer so you can get on with production. People who own homes have a greater need for products and services than those who rent.
Proof of Concept
If your business is not location dependent but rather targeting a particular type of private or business consumer worldwide, you can bet there is a list somewhere that will collect them all together. This can be useful if you are starting totally unique business that has never been tried before to determine whether there is any interest in your products.
No Time and Lots of Money
When you purchase a list, you instantly get information that would take a lot of time and effort to collect from public sources or your own list-building activities. But if you are in a huge rush, you have some cash to burn, and you need quick feedback, it may be worth shelling out for a good list.
Buy a list from as reputable a company as you can find; ask around for references. Ensure they are well established and segment their data well, so that you will have some recourse if you do not get the results you expect. It may be cheaper to hire a summer student to find you up-to-date information that is highly relevant to your business the old-fashioned way — by picking up the phone and asking for it.
About the Author
Joanna Fletcher is a netizen who has lived, worked and played in virtual space for most of her life. Her entrepreneurial flair is topped only by her tolerance for failure.