10 things to check when buying marketing lists

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1. Where does the data come from?

When purchasing a list of contacts, you want to know the source of the data. The more detail the supplier offers you the better, including how it’s collated initially and how it’s subsequently kept clean and up-to-date.

Reputable data suppliers will not be vague on this point; they will be happy to tell you exactly how and from where the list you are considering was sourced.

2. Is the list compliant with the law and industry regulations?

You need to be confident that the list you are buying is compliant; this is your responsibility, so be mindful of this when selecting your marketing list.

To give you an idea of the many laws and regulations around data collection and storage, they include:
- Data must be fairly and lawfully processed
- Specific consent must be held for the type of marketing
- Data must be accurate and up-to-date
- Organisations must be able to demonstrate that they have valid consent
- Data must be processed in line with the data subject’s rights
- If a consumer asks you for the source of their data, you are obliged to let them know
- Consumer data must legally be checked against the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Some of our past blogs explore these legalities and regulations further:
Data Protection Act - Stay Legal - ICO Guidance on sourcing data - Consumer Data Restrictions

3. Do you get specific answers to your questions?

Working with a reputable list provider will help ensure the answers to the above are both easy to obtain and those you want to hear.

In addition, make sure your receive clear and specific answers to any of your own queries around the criteria, use and channels you need.

Avoid / be wary of vagueness from the supplier.

4. Can you select your list using your own criteria?

You should be able to purchase your list based on criteria that drills down to your target audience.

For Consumer (B2C) data this may be as simple as age, gender and where someone lives. Additionally, you may refine by hobbies, interests, family size and other lifestyle elements.

For Business (B2B) data you should be able to select by Company Size, Turnover, Department, Job Title and more.

If the list you are considering cannot be targeted in this way you should question if the data is accurate, targeted and relevant to your needs.

5. Understanding your business

You want the person who is recommending the mailing list for your campaigns to understand your business, services, products and objectives.

If they do not show an active interest in gaining this understanding, then you should consider how they are going to match the most targeted and relevant contacts.

6. Channel usage

Mailing lists that are up-to-date and maintained to be effective will always be sold based on the channel usage. So if the list you are looking to purchase is not sold in this way, it may raise questions about its quality and therefore suitability.

7. Industry accreditations

Another way to identify a quality marketing list is to ensure the organisation selling it has the appropriate industry accreditations for supplying marketing data:

Are they a member of the DMA? The Direct Marketing Association sets the standard for agencies, list brokers, mailing houses and companies. They drive the values, policies and practices for direct marketing.

Are they authorised through the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)? As an independent authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office works in the public interest to protect data privacy and to uphold information rights in the UK.

8. Can the supplier add value to your campaign?

The mark of a good list provider, and therefore a good source for your lists, is their ability to provide more in-depth data marketing and insight services. Their capacity to offer these additional services will be a sure sign of their industry knowledge and experience, as well as confirming they are not just sourcing poor quality data cheaply to sell on for a fast profit.

9. Price too good to be true

Does the price they are offering seem too good to be true? Then it probably is!

As we have said before in our articles - you generally get what you pay for in the data industry - as with any other industry.

So if you receive a few quotes and one is distinctly lower than the others, before jumping at the bargain, consider why it is so far out of line with all the other prices you have received.

10. Success stories

Another way of being sure the list you are planning to buy is of good quality is to check testimonials and case studies. Published success stories around the effective use of the data in other companies’ campaigns are very good indicators.

Case studies and testimonials do not need to be overly detailed; consider how much detail you would reveal about your own marketing activities; but they should at least give the company name and not just be anonymous.

  • Are there other checks you would add to this list?
  • Have you been caught out when buying a list in the past?
  • Have a question about any of the above? Just call us