Staring Into the List-Buying Abyss

958035425_abb70e79b1.jpgEver flown through an online questionnaire to secure your free subscription to an industry publication? Ever wondered how few of the overall population that fills those out actually puts much time into honestly / accurately supplying their info about their personal purchasing power w/in their organization? I personally have very low confidence in the integrity of the data gathered by those questionnaires.

If you've never purchased a list from an industry publication (or event) before, typically their attempts to lure you in focus on the strong demographics of said list. "85% of our readers are senior-level IT purchasing decision-makers." "92% have direct influence on the IT budget." Those types of boasts.

Then when you buy the list, you're not actually buying it outright, of course -- you're buying *access* to it. So you pay your thousands to basically blast email that list through a sponsored advertisement by said publication ( i.e., the type of unread email that's in my deleted folder by the thousands).

List buying is never a terribly confidence-inspiring scenario. You know that the data is inherently flawed to begin with. You know how low the percentages are on direct marketing response rates. But when you look beyond your organization's own ongoing efforts to harvest leads organically -- and you need additional ways to capture additional targets and their contact info -- there aren't a whole lot of alternatives.

Maybe that's just my jaded view. Anybody out there having good experiences with list buying and have any tips to share?

Photo courtesy of jurvetson's photostream on flickr creative commons.