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It’s the New Year and everyone knows what that means — time start looking for a new direct marketing list!

Whether you’re using a mailing list, a telemarketing list or an email list, it’s always amazing when you finally find the perfect well-targeted, high-quality direct marketing list. The list that is finally giving you the results you deserve. You continue to work the list until you start to notice a decrease in responses. What’s going on? Nothing lasts forever, not even the perfect direct marketing list.

When you purchase a marketing list from a list broker, they will usually let you know how often you can use it. Some direct marketing lists are one use only, some allow you to use the lists 2 or three times, while some list owners will allow you to use the list multiple times within a certain time frame. The standard is normally multiple uses within a year.

The direct marketing lists begin to decline in quality the moment they are produced. As the consumers or businesses represented on the list change, the accuracy of the list declines. This is referred to as list decay.

If you have found a direct marketing list that allows unlimited uses, be cautious. List owners put usage restrictions on their lists for a reason, and it’s not always about trying to get your money.

Marketing lists are at their best when you first receive them from your list broker. It is estimated that consumer lists decay at a rate of 1 – 2% monthly, business lists decay at a significantly higher rate of 3 – 4% monthly.

What causes this decay? Consumers move, they change their name (mostly women who change their name upon marriage/divorce) and they pass away. Businesses also move locations and change their names, but the main reason behind business lists decay is the high rate that contacts within the business change. Job turn over (contacts leave, new contacts get hired), title change (promotion or reorganization) and job function change (changed job in the same firm) are the main causes.

Contact your list broker and ask for an updated list. The new marketing list will be based on the same perfectly targeted market that you used before, but without any of the contacts that have moved on. You will also get new contacts within the same target range to replace the ones you may have lost. 

Sometimes an updated list isn’t the answer. Direct marketing lists get tired! This is called list fatigue. The performance of your perfect list may have been outstanding at first but with continued contact, recipients may become desensitized to your offer. Your responses and conversions will start to decline with time.

The New Year is the perfect time to start thinking about testing new mailing lists. Changing or simply updating your target market will breathe life into your stagnant direct marketing campaign. Try using the intelligence within your current client list to create a description your best customers which you can use to help to identify your ideal prospects. This process will not only provide you with a highly-targeted group of prospects, but also will help you glean valuable insight into the demographic make-up of your current clientele, which is always helpful to know.