Selecting the right criteria for your campaign or mailing list

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Selecting the right data for your campaign or for your general prospecting lists can sometimes feel daunting when you start to consider it in depth.

Making sure you consider various key questions will help not only to simplify the selection process, but also to ensure you cover everything you should for the best results.

Who is the target audience?

This is where most people start when looking for data. Which seems fair.

But make sure you have also considered ‘What you are looking to achieve’. This may seem simple, but for acquisition campaigns quality will win out over quantity, whereas with brand awareness exercises a wider audience may be more appropriate.

From this starting point, the target audience can be drilled into by various criteria, the most common of which include:

Business / B2B Marketing

Consumer / B2C Marketing


Age / Gender



Company Size

Household Income

Contact Type / Department / Job Title

Marital Status / Family Lifecycle

Location Type - Branch, Head Office

Hobbies / Areas of Interest

There are other criteria that can be used for both Business and Consumer marketing; your data provider will be able to tell you what additional criteria they have access to for refining your list.

Using highly targeted criteria provides the best possible results.

Recently, we worked with a leading restaurant and pub operator to put together a campaign which targeted recipients by precise geography to promote the establishments close to them.

When also sent at the optimal time, this saw a 20% open rate for the email which is a 400% increase on a typical B2C open rate. So selecting the right criteria here proved to be vital to the campaign's success.

When do you plan to use the list?

Being organised is vital, but sourcing your data too early then sitting on it for too long may have negative effects on your campaign.

If you sit on data for too long before its first use it may start to become out of date before you have even used it.

Data decays by up to 40% per annum.

That said, try not to make a rushed purchase of data where you do not have time to consider and refine the best possible list for your needs.

How many channels and uses do you need?

Reputable data suppliers license lists for use depending on what channels will be used to communicate via and how many times the list will be used:

  • Channels - a channel is simply postal, telephone, email or combinations of these.
  • Uses - a use for email or postal is simply a ‘send’, for telephone a use counts once you speak to someone (so if you don't get through initially you are permitted to keep trying until you do.

The best campaigns utilise multiple channels to really drive home the message without over-communicating via a single channel.

Getting the right balance of uses for your campaign is important to make sure you maximise the results of the campaign.

What are you looking for in your data (Quality, Quantity, Price)?

Obvious things to consider when choosing a mailing list and the supplier of it include:

  • Volume
  • Quality
  • Price
  • Recency

As in life it is often a case of compromise. You will not obtain the highest volume, with the best quality and recency for the lowest price. So decide which element/s is/are most important to you and this will help you define the best supplier and list for your campaign or general prospecting list.

For the various types of marketing, Data HQ have prepared Guides to data selection which explore these and additional questions in more detail:

Guide to Business Data Selection

Guide to Corporate Data Selection

Guide to Consumer Data Selection

  • What other questions do you ask when selecting your data?
  • How do you select your criteria?
  • How you found expert advice useful for selecting the best data?