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Do List Rentals for Acquisition Work?

Direct Mail List Rentals for Acquisition Work?


Acquisition is super important … which means that a good list can be worth gold! It’s helpful for segment marketing and helps a direct mail campaign perform to the max. That said, renting a list and seeing results is not a simple, one-and-done strategy. There’s a lot to consider—and understand—before you pony up the money to rent one.


More Than Just Names


A list can come with more than names. The information you need to capture with those names also matters. This determines the type of list you purchase. List databases differ.


You can scale the data filters up and down. While a basic list rental might have only income and location of the people named on the list a more complex list might drill down to women, over-40, living in Manhattan, making over $100,000 and who bought running shoes in the past 6 months. 


How much information will work for you? Keep in mind, the more transactional your data, the better your response rates usually are. 


You Get What You Pay For


But more transactional data boosts your cost. Plus, the number of names you’re looking for also affects price. So does your projected campaign duration.


Generally, everything is based on segments of 1000 names, with 5,000 names typically the minimum. Whereas you’ll likely pay $25 dollars for 1000 names with a simple list (back to income and location again), the price increases as you require a more detailed list.


Also, list rentals can be on a per campaign basis or for the year. When yearly, you can use the list as many times as you want in 12 months and continue to refresh the data based on results. For example, a wellness type company that gathers a lot of transactional data may spend as much as $8500 on every mailing that comes out of 1 rental list. Another company, with simpler requirements, may spend as little as $2250. That’s exclusively list rental, not the additional costs of the direct mail media used to reach the names on the list. And these are also just rough figures to help paint a better picture.


In the Know 

Knowing your customer is an important mantra when considering whether to rent a list. How do you historically acquire new customers: Direct mail. Email. Events. Newsletters. Facebook ads. Know where your customers hang out … know what methods have worked best for reaching them and getting their business in the past. That’s when you’re best equipped to make go not go decisions about list rental. 


Plus, the list itself is likely not the whole story. If your customers respond well to email, lists and emails make for a super digital marketing combination. Access to a list of names provides a great opportunity to amplify a campaign. You can upload a list to Facebook and run ads a week before and/or after an email campaign. This often increases the response rate.


A Long Game


Still, you must understand that success from renting lists is a long game. You need to test various lists for at least 2 years to find the ones that work best for you. And it could take longer or shorter depending on how many direct mail campaigns you send out annually. 


At those way points, a 1% to 3% acquisition rate is normal.  Five percent (5%) is amazing and very rare. To achieve prime results, you must employ different strategies for mailing to the same list more than once to succeed in acquisition. In reality, over the long haul, it can be a big investment.


The Perfect World for Acquisition Strategy


Working with an agency like Ballantine also helps. An agency familiar with marketing techniques can more readily come up with different formats that work best. What’s more, an agency with connections to list providers can negotiate better rates with preferred providers. You drive acquisition prices down and get more people funneling and more people in your database, so your business grows. 


Your To-dos: Data Modeling Follow-up


The other important consideration is data modeling. If you’re willing to spend money on acquisition list rental, it’s important to take care of your internal data. Build a model that assesses customer behavior that will enable strategy and tactics going forward. That’s how you get the maximum bang for your buck. In reality, it doesn’t make sense to do acquisition, if you’re not going to do a match back measuring performance. 


At Ballantine, we can be your partner … be your boots-on-ground to help you maximize rental list acquisition. With the right objectives and ample time frame, and budget, acquisition list rental can enable you to level up your business. 


The important consideration is that you do your homework to understand all the benefits and potential outcomes. 


Whether you want a partner or a better understanding of the list acquisition process, reach out. We’re here to answer your questions or to help you move forward with a list acquisition strategy to grow your business.


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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!