Auto Data vs. Consumer Demographic Data – Beware of “stale” auto lists!

When you buy or rent a consumer demographic mailing list, you can usually safely assume that the names and addresses on that list won’t change very much over the course of the year.

When you buy or rent a consumer demographic mailing list, you can usually safely assume that the names and addresses on that list won’t change very much over the course of the year.

Of course, prior to mailing ANY list, it is important to run the list through the US Post Office’s NCOA (National Change Of Address” system. Most mailing list providers and many printers will do this for you just prior to printing your labels or mail pieces, so if someone has moved, you will still reach them at their new address, even if you purchased the list a while ago.

But, here, we are not talking about the address and whether or not it has changed.

We are talking about the actual criteria by which you specified your list.

If you’re purchasing a consumer demographic list, you likely specified the geography, perhaps homeowners vs. renters, income, number of children in the home, profession, hobbies, political affiliations, ethnicity, etc.  Those things tend not to change very much, as you can well imagine.

Automotive lists, on the other hand, DO change rapidly.  Sometimes, to those of us who specialize in auto lists, it seems as if people change cars almost as often as they change their socks. More frequently if we’re talking about college kids.  J

When you purchase or rent an automotive list, if you plan to use it several times (and that is part of your agreement with the supplier of the list), you need to be aware that, over the course of a few months, your list might be significantly “stale”. Depending on the geography, model years selected, what specials dealers in that area are running, government programs (a la “Cash for Clunkers”), and other factors, many people may no longer have the vehicles they had when you bought your list.

When you then use that “stale” list, you are mailing, at significant cost, to people who may no longer meet your targeted criteria.

We find that frequently, you are better off purchasing a new list, even though it may appear more expensive initially. 

Only you can effectively decide where your break-even point might be between spending the money on a mailing that might end up in the garbage or spending a bit extra on an up to date, fresh list.

 

It is important to understand that this is an issue when buying automotive lists, and to act accordingly!