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The Best List Broker Services of 2020

Andrew Martins
, writer
Oct 11, 2019
> Marketing

List Broker Service Comparisons

A strong marketing campaign relies on multiple points of data. With the right information, your small business can make sure it lands in front of your ideal audience, whether you're planning to run an online campaign or send promotions through direct mail. With the help of a good list broker service, you can target your ideal audience through the use of demographical data and up-to-date lists.

Based on our examination of the list broker industry, we've chosen the best services for different business needs.

Best Picks

Editor's note: Looking for the right mailing list broker for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Overview of List Broker Services

Direct marketing efforts live and die by the mailing lists they're based on. Through the use of a good list broker, your small business can get a tailored list of names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other contact information that can ensure your message gets in front of the right people.

While obtaining a person's contact information from a third party may feel like you're capitalizing on a recent data breach or digital intrusion, the information sold by brokers comes from several legitimate sources. Professional list brokers get their information through extensive databases that have compiled consumer and business contacts from phone books, public records, and surveys.

With a list broker's help, you can take this raw data and narrow the list down to the households or businesses you want to target based on demographics. Listings can get down to very specific details, so you can maximize your business's return on investment by only reaching out to the parties you know will respond well to your brand.

A mailing list provided by a good list broker can boost your public awareness of your business and get new customers through the door, whether you're looking to sell directly to businesses or to households.


List Broker Service Pricing

Since list brokers take a custom approach to each order based on a company's needs, it's rare for them to post their pricing structures online. That may be frustrating if you're trying to determine how much a service will cost your company, but it's the nature of a business where no two orders are the same.

When coming up with a new list order, you will have to decide on a number of factors. Chief among them is where you want to begin your search. Most brokers will ask you to set a search radius around an address or select a specific area like a state, county, or city before they ask for specifics about the demographics you want to hit.

When you draw up lists for consumers, data points like the number of people in a household, residents' ages and occupations could help you hone your targets. For a business list, however, you may want to only get listings for businesses with a certain number of employees or within a certain industry. In this instance, most searches will be through the use of a government-defined Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

Based on your selected criteria, the broker will be able to draw up a list that meets your needs. Prices will vary by the number of business or consumer listings you manage to draw up.

In our research, we identified similarities between list brokers in how each one quoted us. While the specific prices varied, we found that most companies charge on a per-entry basis,  usually 6 to 36 cents per list entry. The more entries we requested in a list, the lower the individual cost would go. Prices also depended on whether the entries were email or postal addresses and if they were for a business or consumer list. In every instance, email lists and business lists cost more per entry than postal and consumer lists. We saw prices as low as $75 for 1,000 entries and as high as $3,600 for 10,000 entries.

Our Methodology

To properly evaluate list brokers, we dedicated significant time to learning about the industry, including what features, options and prices make for a good service. To start off, we compiled a list of 18 vendors. This list was largely based on independent research, but we also considered vendor lists and reviews from other sources, as well as companies that requested to be added to our list.

Once this list was complete, we visited each company's website to note its services and pricing models, if available. In addition to information the companies provided, we also sought out customer testimonials and reviews on third-party sites.

Once we were satisfied with the information we'd gathered on each company, we compared services and came up with a shortlist for each use case based on the criteria below. We then reached out to speak with a customer service or sales representative for each of those companies to get a more in-depth look at their services and pricing. These calls were also necessary for us to get a feel for how they treat their customers.

During our calls, we posed as a small business owner in need of list broker services. We gave each company representative the same quote request and the same batch of questions. We took notes on our interactions with them, and after comparing pricing, features and our customer service experiences, we determined our best picks.

Here are some of the more important criteria and questions we considered when evaluating each list broker:

  • Does the company specialize in consumer or business lists? Consumer lists are useful if you're trying to generate more foot traffic or general interest, while business lists are more precise data sets that target businesses in particular industries. In both instances, a good list broker can create a targeted list based on specific geographical and demographical data points.

  • How current are the lists? The best list brokers commit to updating their databases regularly. Most run their postal list information through the U.S. Postal Service's National Change of Address file, while email addresses are checked electronically. Most services check their lists every 30 days, though you can often request another check to be run before you commit to a list.

  • Is the available data categorized as compiled or responsive? Compiled data is largely gathered through open records, including phone books, government records and credit files. The household or business contacts on these lists can be further sorted by geographic location, gender, ethnicity, income and age. Responsive lists are based on contact information that was volunteered in some way. They are usually gathered through sources like magazine subscriptions, catalogs and previous direct marketing responses. List broker sites often state these are "opt-in" lists, meaning the contacts may be more receptive to your message, but they're usually more expensive and harder to come by.

  • Do the lists come with any guarantees? Addresses and contact info on large lists are always in flux, so there are bound to be delivery errors and bounced mailers. List brokers usually offer a deliverability guarantee and will give refunds for items that the Postal Service returns. A broker is not responsible if your campaign fails to attract new customers, of course.

  • Are the lists sold or rented out? When you buy a list, it's yours to keep and add to your own database. Broker companies sometimes rent out lists for temporary use. When you rent a list, you get a set number of times that you can use the list. You enter into an agreement with the list broker that you will only use the list for the agreed number of uses. Often, the rented list contains seed addresses that alert the broker if you use the list in violation of the rental agreement, which can result in fees and penalties.

  • Can you get direct marketing assistance from the broker? After compiling your list, some list services design your mailers or emails and send them for you. Of course, you can always use your lists from the broker but design your direct mailing campaign with another service. If you are renting an email list for one-time use, this is typically the method brokers use, which ensures their list stays private. List broker services can help you find customers to boost your business's sales or visibility. With the help of a list broker, you can easily connect to a larger audience.

List Broker Service FAQs

Q: What are the benefits of using list broker services?

A: Direct marketing is a method businesses have used to reach new audiences for decades. It involves reaching out to a specific target audience by mail, email or phone in hopes of converting them into customers or clients.

A successful direct marketing campaign can boost your base of customers, whether they are consumers or businesses. The success of your marketing efforts depends on several factors, including your message and call to action, but to get your message to these people in the first place, you need to obtain lists of contacts. A big factor in the success of your campaign is the quality of those lists. Not only do list brokers provide you these lists, they can help you determine the right contacts for your campaigns, with the right demographics for you to reach the audience that will be most receptive to your message.

Q: How do list brokers work?

A: A list broker connects you to extensive databases with the contact information for consumers and businesses. These databases are assembled from various sources, including phone books, public records and surveys. Records can include names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of people or businesses you're trying to market your products or services to.

List brokers help you narrow your list of consumers or businesses to those likely to be the most responsive to your mailers, emails or telemarketing calls.

Q: What is the difference between a list broker, list manager and list compiler?

A: In the mailing list industry, there are two types of vendors: list brokers and list managers. The differences between the two are easy to recognize when determining which company you're going to use.

List brokers are people who stand between you and the list owner. They can recommend the best lists for your marketing campaign, handle mailing dates and order the lists. Brokers also negotiate the best lists and deals for your campaign, working on your behalf to maximize your return on investment.

List managers work to generate the most revenue possible for a list owner. They do this by promoting their lists to brokers and marketers for future campaigns. Managers are usually also responsible for maintaining and updating lists while ensuring the lists are attractive to potential buyers or renters.

List compilers produce the lists. They are familiar with the sources they get their data from and generally deal in bulk listings of hundreds of thousands of entries. If dealing with a broker is like getting your water from a faucet, list compilers are more akin to a fire hose.

Common List Broker Service Questions & Answers

Have a list broker service question of your own?
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Is it worth buying a list of potential users to get a new product exposure?

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There are TWO critical factors: One is having a good list that is current, not old. The second factor, equally critical, is having a strong, audience-relevant offer/message that is well conveyed and professionally implemented. If you don't have BOTH factors, nothing is going to happen.

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