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 Frequently Asked Questions About B2B Lists

1.What are B2B (business-to-business) lists?

B2B lists reach people at their office or workplace. Consumer lists reach people at home. These are not strict definitions; some lists have mixed addresses.

B2B lists are used for business, professional, industrial and, occasionally, investment offers where the product or service will likely be used - and paid for - by a person in a business or professional context. features complete details on thousands of B2B lists, both for USA and for international audiences. These include virtually all of the standard lists used by the largest B2B mailers, plus thousands of highly targeted specialty lists for small, niche direct marketers.

2.What are the basic prices, terms and conditions for renting lists?

The vast majority of marketing lists are supplied on a one-time rental basis. This means that the owner agrees to allow the renter to use the list once in return for a fee, typically expressed on a per thousand record basis. A list renting for $120/M is said to have a base rental rate of $120 per thousand records.

Some, usually small, lists are priced on a flat basis. A list renting for $500/F is said to have a base rental of $500 flat or for the entire quantity indicated.

List prices showing a + sign are additional charges, which are added to the base rental rate.

If a rented list is used more than once without prior permission from the owner, he/she may ask for additional payment or may refuse to supply the user with any names in the future. Owners may impose other restrictions on the use of a list or may even refuse to supply it altogether, such as to competitive marketers.

Most list owners set a minimum order size or value, designed to insure that they make a profit on even the smallest order quantity. In practice, this minimum order size is often 3,000 to 5,000 records or the equivalent value in money.

Most owners of response-generated B2B lists require list users to submit a reasonably complete sample of the marketing piece for their review. This enables them to screen out competitive, questionable or otherwise inappropriate offers.

These are very general terms and conditions; all list owners reserve the right to set the price and terms under which they will rent their lists.

Your representative will be happy to explain these and other terms and conditions for any list you find at

3.How do I estimate my total costs to rent a list?

Estimating your total costs to rent any particular list is a matter of calculating and adding a couple of key numbers, all of which can be found in the database.

The first step is to calculate the base rental. Do this by dividing the total quantity you wish to order by 1,000; then multiplying the result by the dollar cost per thousand. For example: 5,000 quantity divided by 1,000, equals 5 multiplied by $120/M rental rate, which equals $600.00 base rental.

Next, do the same calculation for each selection charge which will be used in your order. If you are selecting one or more states, for example, and state selections are priced at $5/M+ ($5 per thousand additional), you will incur a $25.00 total charge for state selection. If you also select job function or industry or some other segment with a selection charge, calculate these amounts and add them together with the base rental, calculated above.

Next, calculate the fulfillment charge. Observe that some fulfillment options are free (N/C), some are charged on a per thousand basis (/M+) and some are charged on a flat basis (/F+). If the charge is described as /M+, divide the total quantity of records by 1,000 and multiply the result by the charge. Then add this amount to your total charges. If the charge is described as /F+, simply add that amount to your total charges.

Finally, if you choose a fulfillment option that requires shipment (labels, magnetic tape, diskette), add about $15 to $75 to your total charges. Note that shipping charges are usually based on parcel weight and distance. Heavier shipments traveling greater distances will cost more.

The sum of these calculations should give you a very good estimate of your total costs. Your representative will assist you in calculating your total charges for each list order.

4.How much time should be allowed for list ordering and delivery?

Since list orders are produced according to your detailed specifications, time must be allowed for fulfillment. Most orders for domestic USA lists are shipped within 7 to 10 working days of receipt by the list owner or manager. Some lists can be fulfilled sooner, others may take longer, depending on the fulfillment capability of the owner.

Fulfillment of international list orders can take about 18-20 working days, sometimes as much as 30+ days. This includes two days for air courier delivery from overseas suppliers.

Increasingly, lists are being delivered by e-mail or file transfer protocol (FTP). This delivery mode can cut fulfillment time by up to 3 days on USA orders and much more on international orders.

Speak with your representative about individual list delivery to insure that your production schedule and marketing plan are not adversely affected.

5.Why are lists so important to the success of my direct marketing campaign?

Experts agree that your choice of lists has more impact on the response produced by your direct marketing effort than any other decision you make.

A poorly conceived marketing message will pull more response from a well-targeted list, than a well-conceived message will from a poorly targeted list.

While changes in the creative elements -- copy, package or offer -- can increase overall response by 25% to 100%; good, new lists can improve response by 200% to more than 1,000%. To make the most of your valuable time, spend it looking for new lists.

But thorough list research doesn't have to be time-consuming. Use to find complete details on thousands of the world's best response-generated and compiled business-to-business lists. It's fast, easy and free.

6.What is the best list selection strategy?

No single list selection strategy guarantees success, except this:

Find lists that work and keep mailing them until they stop working. And when you discover lists that don't work, quit mailing them.

7.What is a typical response rate for a B2B marketing effort?

Response rates for B2B marketing efforts run from fractions of one percent to as much as 5% or more depending on the nature of the offer. A high-priced offer (e.g. $100+) will normally have a much lower response rate than a low-priced or free offer.

Predicting a response rate for an untested list or new offer is impossible. The question to ask is not, "What response rate will I get?" but rather, "What response rate do I need to get?" For most marketers income from a mailing, relative to its costs, provides the answer.

If the income generated by a list exceeds the costs to use it, plus the cost of fulfillment, then the list is probably worth re-using. If a list produces less income than its total costs, it is probably not worth re-using.

Savvy marketers set financial goals for individual lists as useful benchmarks for response analysis.

8.What is the best way to tell if a list works?

Direct marketing is unique among all advertising media in its ability to measure response and identify its source - precisely. All successful direct marketing programs track and analyze the source of every order, inquiry, lead or other response they generate. This analysis tells you which lists worked and which didn't.
9.What is keycoding and why is it so important?

The keycode is a simple, powerful way to track the response produced by a particular list. It's a set of unique alphabetical or numeric characters recorded on the response device (order form, etc.), so that its return tells the marketer which list produced the response.

Each individual list is assigned a unique keycode. As responses are received, the keycodes are recorded and the lists from which they are received are positively identified.

The keycode enables the marketer to measure response precisely for each list. Failure to keycode, record and analyze response for each list totally subverts the most valuable feature of direct marketing -- its ability to tell you where your best customers can be found.

Be sure to check list data for the availability of keycoding on each list.

10.How is a list test constructed and interpreted?

Testing a list is the process of sending a sample of it under controlled circumstances, recording its response and projecting it over the list's entire universe. This avoids wasting money by using unprofitable lists in their entirety.

A list test is carried out with a small sample of names chosen by chance from the total list universe. This sample is called a random or Nth sample, Nth referring to the mathematical variable used to select the names (such as every 7th or 9th name).

All list suppliers should be able to provide random samples of their lists. Many can also record that sample and exclude it from subsequent list orders.

In a typical scenario, a 5,000-name random sample is selected from a list of 35,000 names and used in the test effort. The measured response rate is 25 orders or .5% (five-tenths of one percent).

If .5% response is judged acceptable, the marketer asks: "Can I expect to get at least .5% response, if I rollout to the entire 35,000 universe?"

A statistician would answer that the next effort could produce response ranging from .3% to .7% and that this range of results would hold true in 95 of 100 efforts. This range (.3% to .7%) is called the confidence interval.

You should calculate your own confidence interval based on your test results. Then ask yourself: "Is the lowest response rate in the range acceptable?"

Marketers often fail to calculate the confidence interval and assume that .5% is the true response. They are greatly surprised when the rollout effort produces .3% -- 40% below expectations and often a financial failure -- even though it is statistically valid!

11.What is the best strategy for maximizing the potential of successful lists?

Many inexperienced direct marketers make the mistake of using a minimum sample of 5,000 names from the same list, over and over again, regardless of the response it produces.

They fail to maximize the enormous opportunity of a list that tests well -- to exploit its full potential as quickly as possible. This is the strategy of the rollout or continuation.

For example, following a successful test of 5,000 names from a 50,000-name list, the savvy marketer then tests an additional 10,000 or 15,000 names. If that effort is successful, he/she then uses the remainder of the list.

If list testing and response analysis are rigorous, an aggressive rollout effort can be executed with relatively little risk. It's a good idea to limit the continuation to no more than two or three times the original test quantity, but this multiple may be increased if, and as, subsequent efforts achieve their goals.

In this context, the size or universe of a list becomes an important selection consideration. It's best to begin by testing good lists with larger, rather than smaller, universes so you can exploit them quickly if they perform well.

12.How frequently can I re-use a productive list?

Probably much more often than you think. Keep in mind that most direct purchases only occur when an order form lands in front of a prospect. The more often a prospect sees an order form, the more often he/she is likely to purchase.

Re-sending exactly the same direct marketing package and offer to the very same list within 90 days or less will often produce 75% to 90% of the original response, and not infrequently the same or more.

Discover the optimum frequency for your offer by doubling your frequency and measuring the response. If it is still profitable, double it again. Keep doubling the frequency until response falls so low as to be unprofitable. Then step back one level and continue marketing until response becomes unprofitable again. Settle on the best frequency for generating the largest annual response possible from each list.

13.What is affinity and why is it important to list selection?

The concept of affinity is a good tool for identifying new ways -- and new lists -- for reaching your audience and increasing their response.

For direct marketing purposes, affinity is defined as "a logical connection between a marketer's offer and the people on a particular list." This is why you send your investment banking newsletter promotion to a list of investment bankers, not pig farmers.

Common affinities include industry, job function/title, profession, geographic location, company size, ownership and professional interest.

But don't be misled by this simple illustration: Almost always more than just one logical connection exists between your offer and its audience. Some of them are more powerful than others.

Identifying the many possible affinities that characterize your audience or market is a useful exercise. Once identified, they can help you find new lists. By testing these lists, you can measure the relative strength of the affinities they represent.

Affinity identification and testing are especially useful when you've exhausted the most obvious available lists.

Focus on affinities that define your audience -- as many as you think of; then use them to look for new lists. can help you employ market affinities to find new, better lists. All lists are coded for appropriate affinities. A complete list of all 100+ affinities is displayed in the Market Affinity search field on the Search page..

When you find interesting lists, click on the Related Lists tab at the top of each datacard to view lists with related affinities.

14.What is the difference between a response list and a compiled list?

B2B lists are often described as response-generated or compiled. The difference is crucial for your list selections.

Response-generated lists are lists of individuals who have responded to some kind of direct marketing offer. Lists of magazine subscribers, mail order buyers, even free literature requesters are all response-generated.

Response-generated lists are really some other direct marketer's customer names. Every name has demonstrated a responsiveness to some kind of direct marketing effort.

In contrast, compiled lists are collections of names and addressing data compiled by a third party from public records, printed directories and other information sources, usually for commercial purposes.

Compiled lists frequently include considerable demographic data (job title, company size, telephone numbers, etc), but always lack that important propensity for response.

All other considerations being equal, a response-generated list will out-perform a compiled list because of its demonstrated propensity for direct response. This is a particularly powerful list selection consideration. offers both compiled and response-generated lists, but with a heavy emphasis on the latter. And the list data clearly indicate which is which.

15.What are compiled business lists good for?

Compiled business lists can be useful for many marketers because they target specific industries, professions or business interests and often contain a large array of selectable segments.

These features enable the marketer to blanket an entire market (e.g. all commercial banks in the USA) or tightly target some specific portion of it (e.g. USA commercial banks with $100 million in assets).

Compiled lists are useful when:

? There are no good response-generated lists reaching your target audience, or you've exhausted their supply.

? Your mailing objective is brand awareness, publicity or general information, but not immediate response.

? Your target audience or market is geographically limited - a city, county or region of the country -- and response-generated lists don't offer sufficient coverage to be economically viable.

16.What are hotline names and why are they important?

Hotline names are individuals who have made a recent purchase. Many list owners make them available for an extra charge.

Hotline names are of considerable interest to most marketers, since purchase recency is associated with a greater propensity to buy again. Hotline names are also fresh. They've just been added to a list and have probably not been as heavily used as the other names on the list. And they're generally a bit more deliverable than older names because their addresses are more current.

Hotline can have many different definitions. For example, on a list of annual directory buyers, hotline names might be those who have purchased in the last year, while on a weekly magazine subscriber list, hotline names could be those who have subscribed in the previous month. Most hotline list segments are defined by the time period they cover.

Hotline names should be carefully considered whenever they are available. When testing hotline names, be sure to keycode and track their response separately from non-hotline names from the same list.

17.What is the difference between controlled and paid magazine circulation lists?

The circulation of business and professional magazines is often said to be either controlled or paid. Recipients of controlled circulation magazines receive the magazine free because they have qualified for it in some way, such as by their employment in a certain industry or profession. Subscribers to a paid circulation magazine receive it because they have paid for it.

Publishers of controlled circulation magazines generally exclude any non-qualified person from receiving it for free (though many will allow non-qualified persons to purchase a subscription). Publishers of paid circulation magazines generally don't care who their subscribers are, as long as they pay the subscription fee.

For a direct marketer, the difference is important. A paid magazine subscriber list is generally more responsive, but less targetable, than a controlled subscriber list. Conversely, because controlled magazines qualify their readers by collecting somewhat detailed information about them and their organization, they tend to offer greater selectivity than do paid subscriber lists.

Note that clearly indicates whether subscriber lists are paid or controlled.

18.Why is geographical targeting so important in international B2B direct marketing?

Geographic location (country) is a powerful predictor of the responsiveness of many international and multinational lists. Different countries have different business cultures, different economic conditions and different business needs -- all of which affect response rates.

For this reason, international marketers often experience differences of 100% or more in response among countries on the same list.

Yet many international marketers never observe these differences because they fail to record and analyze response by individual countries on the same list. Doing so requires that they record quantities sent to each country on each list. Then they must track response by list and country on each list -- hard work indeed when a typical international list might reach 150 or more countries.

Yet this exercise will often reveal that certain countries on certain lists deliver considerably higher -- or lower - response than the average for the entire list.

If you want to insure the highest response possible on your international marketing efforts, it pays to discover which countries produce the highest response on each list and order accordingly.

To help you, supplies complete country count details (where available) for all international lists. You can also use the Geographic Regions selection on the Search page to find lists reaching specific regions of the world.

19.What is undeliverable mail and how should it be interpreted?

Undeliverable mail, also called nixies or gone-aways, is mail which can not be delivered by the postal service due to incorrect, illegible or insufficient address. Such mail may be forwarded (if possible), discarded or returned to the sender.

There is only a tenuous relationship between the amount of undeliverable mail produced by a rented list and its response performance.

For example, while an entirely undeliverable list will produce zero response, a deliverable, but poorly targeted, list may also produce zero (or very little) response. Conversely, a list that returns many nixies (20%+) may also produce acceptable response if it is properly targeted.

The savvy direct marketer will normally measure a list's performance by its response and not by the quantity of nixies. Most mailing lists, even the cleanest, produce undeliverable mail at the rate of 2% to 10%. Any quantity over 10% to 15% may be a cause for concern, but only if the list appears properly targeted and the response rate falls well below expectations.

20.What is a list broker?

In the marketing list trade, there are a number of middlemen standing between the owner of a list and the marketer who wishes to use it. One of these is called the list broker. The list broker, like a travel agent, has specialized knowledge of lists -- their profiles, quantities, costs, sources, etc. -- and uses it to advise list users.

This knowledge is shared with the list user free of charge with the understanding that the user will order the lists through the broker. The broker earns a commission on this transaction, typically paid by the owner of the list. List users cannot obtain lower prices by ordering directly from list owners.


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