Deciding Between Compiled and Response Lists

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It's an age old question for marketers: When is it appropriate to use compiled data or response data?

Compiled data is just that—it is data amassed from various resources, mixed together, and then segmented according to self-reported or public information on interest, habits, demographics, etc. This is absolutely the correct resource to select if you are looking to reach a broad audience.

Response data comes from one specific source and is comprised of customers or subscribers to that particular company, publication, website or entity. The information contained is what's captured during the customer process but lacks the promise of a current hotline. Response data is absolutely the best source for specific data.

Let's put this into a real life scenario. I recently received a count request for pet owners who have sharks, koi fish and/or reptiles. While some compiled data sources may have this much depth in their segmentation, this would be better suited to subscribers to a specific magazine or buyers of specific products on a pet website. You don't just want pet owners, you want a very specific type of pet owner.

Aside from targeting options, cost is also something to keep in mind. If you are going after a very narrow group you want to be sure you have a large enough audience to net a respectable profit.

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While compiled data is cost effective, your actual universe could be very low because of the number of selects requested. On a response list your initial financial outlay may be quite high, but you have to determine if you'll actually be reaching a more appropriate audience for your money. Is a wider net at a higher price actually a better value than a tiny spoon at a low cost? Do your complete math, not just face value pricing.

On the flip side, you may be wasting money on a higher priced response list that reaches an audience you could easily target with some savvy selecting, thus saving yourself some upfront costs and opening the doors for added bottom line excitement.

Overall, it's crucial to understand what is available to you as a marketing tool. The more educated you become on what the tool is designed to do, the more effectively you'll enable your campaigns to function solidly and profitably.

Carol Lustig is CMO of Media1/Headstrong Media.

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