Oct. 18, 2005
By Dina Fanelli
A list exchange is the trading of names on a one-to-one basis, usually for the same recency and dollar value.
Is exchanging right for you? There are many questions that need to be answered before delving into the realm of exchanges. Analyze your donor file. Most organizations exchange in a range of 12 through 24 months, $5 to $24.99, $5 to $49.99, or $5 to $99.99 active donors. Some mailers might choose to also exchange their former donors, subscribers, mail-order buyers or whatever file they have at their disposal.
How large is your file? If you're only working with a few thousand names, it might not be worth exchanging your active names. Your donor file would have to be turned completely several times a year in order to pay back names owed. For each turn, 100 percent of your donor file has been exchanged with other organizations. This might fatigue your file much quicker. On the other hand, if you're working within a very tight niche, it might be worthwhile to exchange with a handful of similar type mailers to gain access to a pool of great prospects.
One aspect for you to consider if you are a large-volume mailer is your exchange partners. If you have a file of more than 100,000 names, do you want to exchange with someone who only has 5,000 names in return? After merge-purge you will probably be left with only a couple thousand records and no potential for roll out.
Who should you exchange with? The best exchanges are your competitors. It might be scary for some to exchange names from a direct rival, but they'll prove to be your best prospects. Be sure to thoroughly read through all mail pieces from organizations that are requesting to use your file. This will enable a good fit for both.