By Ari Ginsberg
Finding a new source that carries the qualities that makes a mailing successful, namely, transactional data of recent responders to direct mail, is very hard to come by. Even the abundance of online generated leads that has been flooding the market does not give a sufficient answer to the industry’s needs. 
Many catalogers have found their way to the co-op databases. These efforts have driven down costs, enabling the member catalogers to drop more catalogs and increase response rates. 
But the co-ops are not necessarily available to all mailers, and many do not want to join since they are required to give up their control over their own house file. Those who are not willing to should consider multi-sourced lists. 
What is a multi-sourced list? It’s a compilation of mail order transactional data, similar to the likes of the co-ops, with the following advantages: 
1. It is available to all mailers large and small with no membership required. 
2. There is no requirement to expose one’s own house-file to other users.
3. No need to compromise on the qualities of the traditional response lists. The multi-Sourced list is made up of transactional response data which in most cases include RFM (recencey, frequency, monetary) information as well. 
4. It has considerable quantities across all categories.
5. The individual participating sources are deduped one from another, so there is no need for tedious net arrangement negotiation with each source individually.
6. Multi-buyers across all sources are available for a boosted response.
Most multi-sourced lists are either gathered and owned by some of the larger compilers in the industry or overlaid by them. Either way, mailers enjoy unlimited possibilities of demographic and psychographic enhancements and selects available to them. This brings me to the three major benefits of these lists: 
7. No guessing as to what list bares the same characteristics as your target market. Select buyers within your mailer’s category and use the available enhancements to create a customized list that fit your target market. 
8. This is not a dead-end list. Need better performance? Just tighten the target market using more and better selects.
9. The abundance of information that these lists have and the size of the lists allows your mailer to apply a statistical model and reach a broad market of like names to their existing buyers.
I was hesitant at first to offer my own managed multi-sourced lists in my mailers’ list recommendations. Not that I doubted that these are good lists but I was asking myself how these lists compare to the first tier of traditional response lists available.
I have since tested the list selecting buyers within the appropriate category and adding other available enhancements, such as age and income. 
Sure enough, the multi-sourced list, the one that does not have an individual sample mail piece or website attached to it, became one of my mailer’s leading lists in performance and consistency
—Source: Multichannel Merchant List & Data Strategies July 28, 2008 newsletter ( Ari Ginsberg is president of Contact Marketing LLC.)