Definition of “Vertical” Mailing Lists

April 11, 2008 at 7:42 pm 10 comments

Q: I’ve heard direct marketing types refer to “Vertical” Lists. Do you know what they mean by this term?

A: Yes, indeed, we do! Vertical lists refer simply to lists that target a vertical, or very specific, and highly specialized market. Did you know that there are literally tens of thousands of lists available on the marketplace?

Some of the types of companies that make their data available as mailing lists include:

  • Magazine publishers
  • Cataloguers
  • Organizations
  • Fundraisers/Non-Profits
  • Professional Associations
  • On-line merchants

Think about it, you can rent (yes, that’s the term here) lists of people who’ve recently purchased a high-ticket item from Williams Sonoma. Or, you can market to people who subscribe to Field and Stream. Or, how about reaching those folks who donated to the Sierra Club?

Are you getting the feeling for how you can target your audience by the types of activities that they participate in? Think about the possibilities. We guarantee that there is a vertical list that covers just about any imaginable market.

Buying vertical lists is a bit different than purchasing compiled or occupant files. When you purchase compiled lists, you’ll contact a handful of large companies who are the original compilers of the data. Conversely, for vertical lists, you typically don’t go directly to the list owner for the data. Think about it, if you’re a cataloguer, your business is to sell your products. You don’t have time to also sell your customer list. Therefore, list owners hire list managers who represent their data to the marketplace.

Some of the responsibilities of list managers:

  • Advertising the data to the direct marketing industry.
  • Fielding requests for counts and other list information.
  • Obtaining approval from the list owner that a specific mailer can use their data. Note that typically list owners will not let their direct competitors market to their customer list (duh!).
  • Producing the data (they either do this in-house or use a chosen data processing firm).
  • Invoicing and collecting the list revenue.

So, when should you use a vertical file?

  • When your market is highly specialized, and hard to target with more basic selects.
  • When you need the highest response rate possible. Since most of these vertical files were generated from other mailing cam-paigns, they typically include people who like to shop via the mail. Vertical files tend to be more mail responsive than compiled lists.

On the negative side, these types of lists can be pricy and the ordering process can be arduous. Quantities can be small, so if you’re planning a high-volume campaign, you may need to use several vertical files. Just know that many of the large cataloguers actually rent hundreds of vertical files, for each campaign.

Plus, it can often be hard to find the list manager for the data you’re interested in. But, if you get all the components right, vertical lists can be a key component to winning campaign.


Entry filed under: Mailing Lists and Data. Tags: .

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