“The more detailed requests you can make of a list vendor, with added qualifications you can put on data, the better chance of success you'll have,” Blundon said.
In an added quest to improve direct-marketing efficiencies, list rentals also are increasingly being used for research and testing, and not merely for scattershot marketing.
“Marketers might buy a series of lists to conduct limited testing, perhaps with cheap direct mail or telemarketing, to find out which are best qualified for their companies,” Catalyst Direct's Seaman said. “They'll do this before going all-in with a multidimensional piece that maybe costs $5 to deliver.”
This process also tends to winnow the number of names marketers ultimately reach out to. It's not so much that the need for lists is falling in a down market, although it is to some extent; it's that the purpose to which those lists are being put are changing.
“In a recession, it's important to identify your best customers first,” Cone said. “Don't be shy about it. If anything, overcommunicate to them with extremely relevant offers. Then, try to figure out how to move the others who aren't your best customers up the loyalty ladder.” M