Top 10 ways to choose a good list broker

direct mailing lists
We have access to a variety of data and will work with you to reach your direct marketing goals.

Most people don’t know where to even begin with their direct mail or email marketing campaigns.  The idea is there and it sounds good, but what is the first step?

Choosing a good list broker for the mailing list or the email campaign that not only is trustworthy but has excellent data.

That is a tough choice.  There are so many list brokers, list owners, vendors that it becomes mind-boggling as to who is going to be the best choice.  Small business owners to large advertising or marketing firms can be stymied by this.

Here are a few tips that can make the decision easier.

  1. Call on the phone.  This is the best way to begin gathering information and becoming knowledgeable with the person you will be working directly with.  Even though email is ever-prevalent today, it is highly advisable to speak with the individual to get a feel for their personality and knowledge.  Good list brokers will ask you questions regarding your direct marketing campaign.  They should be asking what the offer is even if you tell them your criteria up front.  Brokers can make excellent recommendations that you may not have thought of to gain a better audience for you and your product.
  2. Are they insured?  Not just for general liability, but what about professional liability.  Errors and omissions.  It can happen.  You request a specific demographic like married females and then end up with single females.  This can be imperative to your campaign.  It doesn’t happen often, but a broker that has proper insurance is a broker that takes their business AND customers seriously.
  3. Is the broker accessible?  Do they call you back in a timely fashion?  Do they answer your emails in a timely fashion?  Do you feel they are trying to build a relationship for future business endeavors?  Good brokers realize that relationship building offers other opportunities down the road, even if you are a small business owner.  If the answer is no, then move on.
  4. What about the data quality?  You should ask how the data is compiled and how often it is updated.  Are the lists NCOA’d?  ECOA’d?  (national change of address and email change of address).  Whether you are launching a direct mail campaign or email broadcast, it is imperative to know how that data is compiled and ask about deliverability rates, too.
  5. Does your broker tackle any “problems” with timeliness and vigor?  There are times when things can get detailed and possibly certain things are overlooked on your end or the broker.  A broker that takes responsibility and/or points out something on your end that needs attention is your best choice.
  6. Look at pricing.  Good data comes with a cost.  Bad data is generally very inexpensive.  Asking all the questions above will help you make sense of cost in a natural way.  Additionally, it is good to ask about price breaks based on quantity and/or how many times you will be doing the campaign.  Ideally, it is a good idea to mail and email more than one time to obtain optimum results depending on the project.  Also, give your budget for the campaign up front so the broker will know if he can accommodate you and your needs.
  7. On email marketing, beware of brokers that are willing to actually give you the email addresses.  True for both consumer and business emails.  The CAN-SPAM law of 2004 is very tight on spamming and the cost of each violation can be overwhelming.  Most brokers will not release emails and will do the broadcast portion for you.  This is included in the cost estimate you should be receiving prior to your campaign.
  8. On direct mail lists, you need to beware that most are for a one time mailing.  Does the broker offer multiple mailings or even unlimited mailings on the list?  They should be asking you that question.
  9. List sourcing.  Most list brokers have access to a large variety and array of lists.  From your general consumer to specialty files, they should know where to go to get your list and know the quality of the file.  Brokers that work for one company that compile their own data will try to keep you within that data.  That is OK sometimes, but not ok if you have a more specific project that requires a list that is more targeted to your campaign.
  10. Lastly, list brokers, of course, love large orders.  However, small business owners also offer a good source of business for brokers.  Make sure the list broker you choose will work with you on your needs, whether they are great or small.  Small orders add up and can become frequent sources of revenue for the broker.

If you have any questions, feel to contact me at 505-332-0339 or you can email me at