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The Secret Of Good Lists

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We're often asked if we can provide lists for our clients and what sort of considerations to take into account when looking for lists to rent.   Mailing a bad list can lead you to assume (incorrectly) that cold lists don't work.  Remember: the list is THE most important factor in any email campaign - far more than the creative or the timing.  Get your list wrong and you can forget the rest.

How To find a good List


A good reputable list broker is the best starting point. Look for a company with a long track record with traditional direct mailing lists and affiliation to the DMA or another recognised official marketing body.   Check the list broker is on the DMA List Warranty Register - a central database of list owner and list users. There are four types of warranties: consumer list owner, consumer list user, business list owner and business list user. Warranties are renewed every year. 

By signing a warranty, the signee agrees to comply with the Direct Marketing Association's Code of Practice and, in case of a complaint, to be bound by the decisions of the Direct Marketing Authority 

If you would like to check whether a company has an up- to- date warranty, you can email your query to

Beware Of Cheap Imitations 

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If a list is too cheap you should start asking some serious questions. Good lists are more expensive because they are opt-in, high quality and obtained legally. 

List Origins 

Check before you rent where the names on any list have come from. Active or passive buyers will be far more responsive than competition entrants, so be sure you know what you're getting and how the names on the list were gathered.

Fatigue And Over-Use 

Ask when the list was last rented out and how often it has been used in the past year. Over-mailed lists wear out quickly and cause the responsiveness of the names to dip rapidly. 

Refreshing The Parts 

Similarly, if the names on a list were collected more than a year ago and haven't been updated, it's not going to be much use. You're likely to get a high percentage of bounces or undeliverables. Ask how often new names are added, and ask for a split by age bands,  i.e. how many names are between zero and six months old, how many are six to twelve months etc: 

Opted-In Lists 

Crucially important with the EU directive is the opt-in. It is vital to be sure that you are renting a list of names who have agreed to receive third-party offers, otherwise your offer will be less than welcome, and treated as spam. You run the risk of alienating potential customers and damaging your brand name. Insist on opt-in-only lists. 

Can You Repeat That?

If you want to mail a list twice - for example, to allow a follow-up reminder email - then you need to confirm your agreement and pricing cover multiple mailings. 

Look Who's Sending 

Many list owners will insist on sending your email using their software. Check that the "from" field contains your company name and not theirs. The "from" is the most likely way for receivers to detect spam, so if yours is filled with junk you can guarantee your email will go straight to the cyber bin. Make sure you're also happy when your mail is being sent and that it's been thoroughly tested before you let it go out. 

For more information, please contact

MailAgent Ltd
John Dickinson Enterprise Centre
London Road Herts. HP3 9QU
Tel: 0333 577 0153
Fax: 01442 242 484

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