When TransMotion Medical worked up a new campaign last year to reach potential buyers of its specialty medical-procedure chairs, it needed the most precise prospect list possible. After all, its target universe of physicians and nurses was extremely limited, and the company wanted to make every name count. TransMotion avoided the typical segmented subscriber or association membership lists and instead relied on expensive, highly verified custom lists from high-end database suppliers. “It goes without saying that your best results will come from people who have shown legitimate interest, perhaps by visiting your Web site or filling out Web-to-lead forms,” said Sam Weber, VP-enterprise sales and client services with Genius.com, TransMotion's marketing automation supplier, which helped develop the lists. “That being said, we've found that certain database suppliers that are more expensive also feature a highly targeted process. If you can get three good connects out of 50, you might want to spend $10,000 to do that.” Weber recommended that TransMotion build a robust database of high-quality prospects using list-building services from Jigsaw, NetProspex and ReachForce, integrating new names with an existing in-house Salesforce.com list. Jigsaw has built up a b-to-b database largely by swapping its own names in exchange for new ones. NetProspex and ReachForce offer increasingly sophisticated, custom services designed to find highly targeted contacts. This kind of high-octane list- building isn't for every company or campaign. The cost-per-contact may be 10 times or more than that of merely renting a subscriber list. Weber said a list built using ReachForce, with its intense level of telephone prospect verification, might run up to $25 per contact. “When we started five years ago, our goal was to be the "anti-list list company,' ” said Cody Young, VP-customer success at ReachForce. “The bane of professional marketers' existence is the 1% to 2% response rate to outbound marketing campaigns that has always been considered successful. We set about to reverse-engineer the challenge.” Like other database companies, ReachForce works to verify the basics, such as first and last name, e-mail address, phone, physical address and so forth, using what it calls its “data factory.” It then uses call centers to find key contacts who, regardless of title, would be a likely buyer for a client's product. Functioning as a research company, ReachForce often sends out surveys to further verify buying roles and practices. The resulting list is owned by ReachForce customers, not rented, and can be used multiple times. “Inside every company is a person with a sore spot, a pain,” Young said. “But you can't find him based on title alone. Nine out of 10 marketers use the title-based approach, which means they're just guessing.” Despite the comparatively high cost, smaller companies without their own in-house list-cleaning resources may find hyper-precise list builders worthwhile. To invite prospects to its webinars on best practices in e-mail marketing campaigns, b-to-b e-mail service provider Pinpointe uses high-quality list-builder NetProspex. “We've found that the cost-per-customer-acquisition is probably below half what it has been through the traditional method of just building a list through Web site registration and search,” Pinpointe Chief Evangelist Craig Stouffer said. Like Jigsaw, NetProspex assembles its basic database by offering free access to its list in exchange for a user's own contacts. It then uses its own product, called CleanStep, to winnow millions of names into a smaller, highly verified list that is further checked by overseas call centers. NetProspex's cost is a flat rate of 75 cents per contact. That compares with a typical price of about 10 cents to 20 cents per contact to rent a subscriber list from a traditional list-management company. Originally published March 8, 2010.