Focus On: Lists: Prospecting Lists that Work
The more aggressive your program, the more likely you’ll be to look into testing deeper into the non-donor names.
Even compiled lists are now performing better and might be worth another look, experts say. Mimi Natz, director of media for The Domain Group, a Seattle-based direct mail agency that works with nonprofits, says she’s constantly looking to databases for information to use for modeling lists.
“When it comes to profile analysis, straight demographics is just too broad a measure,” says Natz, who argues that psychographic data sources are much more useful. “We look at not just who they are in terms of age and household income, but also what are their lifestyles and their interests.”
Testing outside the core
Finding key indicators for great non-core lists isn’t that difficult, Hubbard says. But it does take some digging. One logical place to look for information is data cards.
“If the nonprofit has their list on the market, this proves to be a great idea generator for list-test ideas. Reviewing usage of lists is always a great source,” she explains, adding that organizations need to look at lists from similar nonprofits.
Here are some other questions to consider as you examine those lists:
- Look at the continuation usage of the list. Has a competitive organization used the file?
- Is the editorial content of the publication or the product offerings parallel to the organization’s mission? The closer the tie, the better the results.
- Are the demographics comparable to the current donors?
- What is the source of the names? Direct mail-generated names will be better performers than a controlled circulation file, all other things being equal.
The mantra of direct marketing professionals everywhere is test, test, test, and that, Hubbard says, is the road to successful prospecting.
“Finding the right balance [of non-core lists] for a nonprofit is all in the testing — reading results, drawing hypotheses and retesting,” she says.