Focus On: Lists: Get Serious About Your ROI
Renting lists for your mailing campaigns is a necessary — but inherently risky — expense. You’re spending money for an uncertain outcome because you can’t gauge exactly how names on a given list will respond at any particular moment.
So your priority in any list-rental situation should be to maximize return on investment. Here are five strategies for getting the most value out of your list-rental dollars:
- Identify and mail the very best lists.
- Uncover hidden list sources that might not have been tapped by everyone else.
- Use selections, modeling and other tools to make those lists work optimally.
- Demand the best pricing and deals from the lists’ owners/managers.
- Avoid mailing at undesirable times.
Fundraising agency Craver, Mathews, Smith and Co., in Arlington, VA, works with major nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity International, and uses these strategies for all of its clients. Ellen Cobb Church, fundraising group director, explains how the list-selection and optimization process works for her nonprofit mailers.
“The first thing we do is look at historical data for each list and category. [Once the winning lists are chosen], we pursue other lists in those categories,” she explains.
Church works closely with her list broker, using a competitive analysis report to determine which lists similar-minded organizations are mailing as continuations.
“We also look at who is successfully mailing our clients’ files,” she adds.
Mail your ‘A’ lists first
The North Shore Animal League Association in Port Washington, NY, also first turns to donor lists that come from organizations that are as close to its mission as possible. These are the nonprofit’s “A” lists, or those prospect files that it tests and rolls out to most often because they have the greatest chance for success in bringing in new donors.
Lisa Wilson, director of development at NSALA, says she uses back-end analysis to identify the best lists to test.